Friday, March 8, 2013

Cats vs Dogs - Let's Call It A Draw

I am neither a cat person nor a dog person. I'm a cog person. Or a dat person, if you prefer.

What I'm trying to say is, I like them both. I grew up with dogs, now I own cats. Four cats, to be exact. I thought we had capped the number at three, but a month or two ago, along came Bert.

Bert is an angry-looking gray cat that is actually about the sweetest little guy you'll ever hope to meet. He was rescued from near-death in a combined effort by Elissa, Terry and Chloe.

Elissa was driving near our house on a cold and snowy night when she saw this bedraggled cat sitting essentially in the middle of Eddy Road, which is one of those dark, narrow and hilly streets on which animals of all sorts are regularly run down.

Being Elissa, she stopped her car and got out to try and save the cat from being squashed by a Buick and/or from losing some key paws to frostbite. Scared by another passing car, the cat ran under Elissa's car and stayed there. Elissa called her mother to come and help, and Terry managed to get the cat out from under the car and safely back to our house, where he enjoyed warmth and abundant food for probably the first time in weeks.

As soon as he came home, I knew he was there to stay. Elissa had to go back to school, so Chloe immediately took charge of his care. The first thing she did was to dub the cat "Bert."

This caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the family partly because "Bert" is, by almost any standard, a strange name for a cat, but mostly because it's not a name that appears in the Harry Potter books.

The policy we've adopted in recent years is to name pets, particularly cats, after Harry Potter characters. And specifically members of the Weasley family. Our pre-existing cats − Fred, George and Charlie − all followed this useful convention.

But because Chloe devoted so much time and energy to nursing Bert back to health in his early days with us, the grudging consensus was that she should have naming rights. And so "Bert" it is.

Anyway, as I was saying, I don't count myself a member of either the dog camp or the cat camp. I just like animals in general, which is good in a house with four cats, two chinchillas, a guinea pig, a gecko lizard and a fish. Or at least I think we have a fish. There are pets that will live here for months at a time without my knowledge of their existence.

There are lots of reasons to love dogs. Off the top of my head:

- They're insanely loyal and devoted to you.
- They do tricks.
- They generally aim to please.
- They take care of their bodily functions outside.

That last point is key for me. I am the designated cat litter box cleaner in our house. I do this job every day. Every. Single. Day. Without fail. It's one of the first things I do when I get out of bed. And while not a particularly arduous job, I can never get away from it.

This is why I was the only one who raised any real objections to the idea of keeping Bert. His presence wasn't going to affect anyone else in the family like it would affect me. Needless to say, my opinions were officially registered for the record and summarily dismissed.

Still, I really have come to love cats over the years. They do, as a species, tend to believe they're superior to you in every way. But they're also much more affectionate than they're generally given credit for. And they're great for entertainment when they interact in little cat herds. There's always an alpha male who establishes himself as head cat honcho.

The title of alpha male is currently up for grabs among our cats. Before Bert, Charlie was the clear-cut Big Guy. He ruled the roost, and he did so in a comical way, keeping Fred and George on their toes by constantly jumping on them, biting them when they weren't looking, swatting at them as they passed by, etc.

Bert has submitted his application for the position, though. And Charlie is not happy about it. The two of them have fought a couple of times, but it has been pretty low-key. Almost like they're feeling each other out. Superior size and an "I don't sweat guys like you" attitude will probably mean Bert eventually comes away the victor.

Speaking of dominance, what I don't get is why dog owners and cat people feel the need to establish their choice as the "right" one. This is an ongoing, eternal battle in which everyone involved comes away looking a little...obsessed. And maybe a tad psychotic.

Can we just agree that whatever pet you choose to own (dog, cat, fish, elk, spider monkey, etc.), it does nothing to enhance or diminish your status as a good person and respectable citizen? Is that OK? Good. I'm glad that's settled. I was afraid you crazy dog people would be your usual weird, obstinate selves and mess the whole thing up.


  1. Eddie is still alive! He is an awesome fish because I won him

  2. I feel your pain with the litter box cleaning. Although it is nice that the dogs take care of that outside, it eventually needs to be cleaned up. Having it all contained within a box is so much easier, trust me! And I can't help but wonder every time I'm out in the yard on clean up duty (get it, "duty" ?? I crack myself up!!) how the first pets came to be. Aren't humans supposed to be the superior being? And there I am, cleaning up their after them, feeding them, doing all that can be done to give them great lives. Who is really the superior here?!

    I too, am a cog. Actually, I'm a cerrishog (or any other combo of cat, ferret, fish, and dog), and I wouldn't trade that (or them) for anything.

    Congrats on your new addition! Loved reading of his rescue! Best of luck to Bert in his pursuit of alpha male. And best of luck to Eddie in living with all those kitties!