People tend to fall into two camps as far as their pets go – there are cat people and dog people. Some have both, but most have a definite opinion. In the past, cats and dogs, especially in rural areas, had practical working duties to earn their keep, but today most are kept as companions. I think the distinction in preference between these two species may be due to the radical difference in their inherent personalities.
Dogs are considered to be man’s “best friend.” They can be intensely loyal and protective of their owners and enthusiastically affectionate to the point of knocking you down and licking all over your face. There are professional obedience schools for dogs. Owners expect certain desirable behaviors. If you call a well-trained dog, it obeys, responding with a look that says, “Oh, master, what do you desire?” If you speak with a disapproving tone, perhaps it’s, “Uh-oh. What did I do wrong?” or sheepishly, “Oh yeah, I was bad.”
Cats are certain they are the master and that you are the trainee who is to accede to their every whim. If they are affectionate, they want something, even if it is just petting and scratching their chin in shared bliss. There are apparently no obedience schools for cats. If you call a cat, and it comes at all, its look will be “What do you have for me?” Any attempt to chastise a cat will get you a disapproving look as if to say, “Are you being stupid again?”
To my parents, on our farm, cat, and dogs were not pets but working animals. Dogs guarded the property and alerted us to potential threats. Cats controlled the rodent population. To me, they were all pets. Even at an early age, I felt a preference for cats. Over time, I kept a number of other species as well, including a large snake, a baby skunk named “Stinky” (that didn’t stink), a guinea pig named “Pinky,” a chicken named “Speckles” and a pig named “Runt Baby.”
After leaving the farm, I was in the service overseas for a few years and afterward spent a few more wandering from place to place, but I had no pets. Then I met my Patty. When we married, a cat named Charlie (who was of questionable intelligence) was part of the package. Charlie was a screaming, curtain-climbing, cross-eyed Siamese, but he turned out to be a joy. My wife and I since then have had a few more cats in our life, and each has been, at the time, the best cat that had ever “owned us.”
Oh, the entertainment and joy given by a small beastie that seems so self-centered and taciturn. The comfort of stroking that smooth length of soft fur while hearing the gentle satisfied rumble of purring. The delight of watching the grace as he walks through the room, gently waving his tail. The soft chatter he makes while posed to jump through a pane of glass, a bird taunting him. Who in their right mind would build a cat patio, a “catio,” for a single cat to keep him safe from coyotes and more? Who else would follow a vet’s advice on providing the most natural ground raw chicken diet with salmon, eggs, probiotics, and more to promote the best possible health? You guessed it. Me, the devoted slave to a cat.