Dogs are like girlfriends; cats are like wives

I’m going to catch hell if I really use that for a title, so remind me to change it to: Dogs are obedient children; cats are thieves and vandals. The former eagerly intuits your feelings and lives in endless gratitude for your patronage. The latter coldly observes your actions and ponders your motives so he can more efficiently thwart your desires and demolish your property. This is the bad news about cats; the good news is that the sneaky little bastards are entertaining, and the fur on their bellies is delectably soft and fragrant and atones for numerous sins. Brewsky even prostitutes his belly in a cynical—yet successful—attempt to avoid punishment, but more about that later.

I bring greater intelligence to our contests, but he brings speed, agility, perseverance, and unrelenting focus—at least during the few hours of the day he’s actually awake. For it is then that his scheming little brain is working overtime to obtain some object that I don’t want him to have, or to con me into feeding him early, or to find a three second window of opportunity in which to sneak into the garage and thence to the attic where I have to lure him down with treats. Such dastardly behavior as he regularly exhibits (including the premeditated murder of a large peace lily that lived atop the refrigerator) would almost justify shooting a dog because even one such outrage—much less an hourly repetition of them—would violate the trust and integrity that makes a dog man’s best friend and distinguishes him from a rabid wolverine. But a cat, being a psychopathic felon at heart, requires that we show it endless mercy, or else there would be no cats.

And I do—show mercy. Just last night, I was chasing Brewsky with a towel when he suddenly rolled over on his back, stretched his front legs straight forward and his hind legs straight backwards, and began to squirm slowly from side to side, brazenly exposing every color and pattern on his wonderful belly. Humiliating as it was, I had no choice but to kneel and rub that belly, me laughing, and him looking at me with intense curiosity about what such a display could possibly mean. For the 15 months that I have known him, he has devoted scores of hours to understanding the human phenomenon of laugher but without the least indication of progress.

It was only this year that I could say an unreserved yes to having a cat, and I still feel treasonous at times for bringing home the worst enemy of the many generations of dogs that I have been privileged to love. I saw the movie Cool Hand Luke last month for the first time in 42 years, and I must give it some credit for my growing acceptance of life with a cat. As you might recall, “Luke” was a convict who was murdered by his guards because he was insubordinate and prone to escape. The escalating punishments that he brought upon himself combined with the fact that he was in prison for the ridiculous crime of vandalizing parking meters, made him look stupid. Yet, it soon became apparent that his problem wasn’t a deficit in intelligence but an inherent inability to accept authority. He himself chafed under this inability, and railed against God for having made him that way. Outwardly, the movie changed nothing about how I interact with Brewsky, but inwardly it gave me a greater sympathy for him.

People debate the imagined superiority of cats over dogs or dogs over cats, but the truth is that, like ourselves, they are simply what evolution made them. Dogs hunt in packs, and therefore regard love and cooperation as essential; cats are solitary hunters to whom love of family (except for a mother for her kittens) and cooperation for the common good just aren’t terribly important. Maybe this is why many dogs—and many people—hate cats. We humans can see ourselves in dogs, but cats are as disturbingly strange as space aliens.

Yet, there’s no sweeter time in my day than when Brewsky lies in my lap in bed while I’m reading. I’m sterner with that cat than I’ve ever been with any dog, yet when I go somewhere, he comes to see me off, and when I return, he’s there to greet me. When I get up in the morning, he’s standing joyfully outside my door, and many times throughout the day, he comes to me for a cuddle. Nothing impresses me more than the fact that’s he sees through my gruffness and trusts my love. I can’t hold a creature like that at a distance.

21 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Why do we polarise them into cats and dogs, either you love one or the other. Granted, Snow, they are quite different, I'm fond of them both, cats and dogs, but perhaps given that we have three of them and have had them for the past twenty five years or so, cats are my favourite. And your cat sounds magnificent, a classic example of feline dexterity, manipulation and control.

Thanks for an articulate and beautifully written post on such an important subject - to cat and dog lovers at least.

Rita said...

The biggest difference to me, and I was raised with both cats and dogs at the same time who got along, is that dogs are born to devotedly love us unconditionally and cats choose to love us if they find us worthy. Dogs are dependent, know it, accept it, and almost take joy in it. Cats believe they are totally independent even when they aren't. But somewhere they know that if they were suddenly alone in the world and you tossed them out on their ear, they'd have a darn good chance of survival.

Obviously, Brewsky deems you worthy. Cat trust just feels special. It's not automatically given. ;)

The Elephant's Child said...

Just beautiful Snow. Our two cats also love belly rubs. Their current joy is to both do limp falls on the carpet demanding belly rubs. They do it simultaneously, just far enough apart so they you cannot minister to both of them at once. If you rub his tummy, she mopes. If you rub hers he attacks - me or her.

The Elephant's Child said...

PS: You are wrong about cats' inability to love though. It sounds as if Brewsky loves you and we had a cat who, when his favourite human was hospitalised, cried. And cried. And cried some more. And could only be settled by giving him a dirty t shirt to lie on. I was seriously considering smuggling him in to the hospital.

Kerry said...

Cool Hand Luke is a great movie and I like your analogy. I am trying to think of a similar movie character for dogs. hmmmm.

We haven't replaced our cat since the ol' bastard vanished 2 years ago. He never once purred, which is kind of like never saying "thank you." I liked him despite his terrible personality.

The dogs on the other hand say "thank you" all the time, and I adore them.

That corgi :) said...

Seems like a perfect fit with you and Brewsky; they do have a way to get into our hearts and lives and provide us with some of the best love and loyalty and laughs! Never owned a cat, probably never will, but after reading of your and Brewsky's relationship, almost made me think of getting one......and then I looked at Koda......and then I said "nope, will never work here...."

hope all is well :)

betty

kylie said...

i think this is your very best ever, most beautiful post, snow! and mostly because it exposes you for the great big softy you are

The Blog Fodder said...

Brewsky is a smart cat!

Beau's Mom said...

I was raised with cats who disappeared suddenly and dogs who were worshipping me one night and mysteriously gone the next morning. It's only recently that I finally figured out what my mom meant whenever she said "they went home".

One cat in particular loved me dearly, and when I brought a second cat home, the first cat lovingly 'took him for a walk'.

I never saw the new cat again, but I'm pretty sure the old cat mimicked my mom and "took him home".

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Your Brewsky sounds like a sweetheart.

RNSANE said...

Cats will make me break out in hives, while dogs don't so I rarely pamper felines. Both species run wild in India...how they escape death is beyond me and litters, of course, are born daily. They seem so important to the masses.

Just 19 days more and my four months in India will be over. I cry daily at the thought of saying goodbye to so many friends. I am trying to figure out how I can get back here as soon as possible.

The Tusk said...

I wonder if the slight purr, while sitting in your lap sends a soft ohmmm through you that in some ways relieves some pain. Delivering a little meditation in return, for the cost of what the feline felon may have taken.

Tusk

Harmony? A melodic sharing.

Snowbrush said...

Actually, Tusk, someone sent me an article about the healing power of vibrations within the range of a purring cat. I have no idea how many cats it would take though.

Hey, RN, welcome home from exotic India!

Phoenix said...

As someone who's been both a cat and dog owner, I loved this post - there is such a difference between the two animals, for sure, but they both bless a household in different ways. I have one cat now, a total spaz who likes to throw up whenever we have company, and she's a furry little pain in my ass, but damned if I don't love every little furry, bratty inch of her.

Pets make a house a home.

Ed Pilolla said...

i love this. i'm a dog person but love the love for cats. dogs were with the very first modern humans. the link goes back further than cats. that's not a measuring stick of importance. it's an agreement that we see ourselves in dogs. we might be wired that way. the predator point is a great one i have never thought of. i love the cats i live with and enjoy watching them prowl all over the place.

julie said...

I've had many memorable cats...Back in the sixties my cat Walter would follow me to the local pub, about 2 blocks from home and wait until I emerged hours later to walk me home...he also learned to to hitchhike...he'd wait patiently beside me and jump in the open window of any car that pulled over...we traveled to Mexico where he stood down iguanas and lived with me in in tepee in the high country near Lake Tahoe...I love'd him big and he looked just like your Brewsky...Beautifully written..btw...thank you for sharing.

Marion said...

This post was delightful, Snow! Right now, I am cat-less, a strange way of living for me. I have always had a cat, thought I would forever have one.

But it's been twelve years since my last cat died. Brewsky looks soooo much like my cat! I love reading about him, especially when the writing is so superb, and done by someone who is so aware. Awesome, Snow! xx

Robin said...

Snow...I'm late....but I HAD to comment....you KNOW I have adored Brewsky since the day you brought him home.... he HAS has your number, my friend, since that day....why? Because no matter your gruff comments or glares at him...he KNOWS you love him....and love conquers all! A-ha-ha!

As for the title of your post.... whatever Peggy said about it - I echo!

LOVE to all 4,

♥ Robin ♥

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Our Ellie is just grateful to be alive. All the cunning was beat out of her by a previous owner. Wh got her from a shelter. Her contribution to our family life is to show up for a bit of loving, a brushing and a feeding and perhaps a playtime. She does not race around like many cats do. She is just glad to have space to be. And she comes when she's called.

kj said...

It only takes one cat, snow. Or a partner willing to purr

:-)

Barbara/myth maker said...

Your font is so small I have trouble reading here, but made my way through this post, and it was delightful. I couldn't do without my superior cats. :)