There are three cats in our house; one per person. The youngest furry bundle of joy belongs to my father, who found her injured in the middle of the road two Augusts ago. The middle cat, a shaggy but adorable behemoth who thinks she’s a dog, adheres to my mother. And the oldest, a fluffy, arthritic faded beauty who purrs like a motorboat, is mine.
Cats aren’t dogs. I shouldn’t have to say this, but so many people expect cats to behave like dogs that I feel I should make this clarification. You see, it is possible to own a dog. They submit to that kind of treatment fairly well; in fact, they seem to enjoy being under a human’s control. Cats are made of sterner stuff, and will rarely consent to answer to anyone but themselves. Hence their whole mode of expression and communication is entirely different from that of a dog. Did I say superior? No. Just different.
Cats are, for the most part, quiet creatures. This is perhaps why they are the favorite companion of introverts, people who are often judged by the same ruthless criticism that cats are subjected to. Most people mistake quietness for shyness, shyness for aloofness, and aloofness for snobbery.
Cats prefer to keep to themselves and run on their own schedules. They do not enjoy performing, and are difficult to bribe into doing something they really don’t want to do. Cats are more prone to hold grudges than dogs, which seem to have memories as short as their attention spans and forget abuses far too readily. This is largely because a cat’s sense of self-preservation is much higher than that of a dog’s. Cats remember how individuals treat them, and, much like humans, treat each person according to the individual’s kindness or perceived lack thereof. Dogs, by some genetic quirk that prohibits them from seeing the treachery of human nature, will submit themselves to all kinds of abuses before either being killed or snapping and ripping a person’s throat out. Dogs trust when they have no reason to trust. Cats are, by nature, skeptical and untrusting. This is perhaps why people prefer dogs to cats. No one wants a pet that reminds them of themselves.
Granted, that was a paragraph of sweeping generalizations based more on one girl’s observations rather than proven fact. As far as the longstanding debate as to whether dogs are better than cats or vice versa, the best answer is “to each his own.” It’s a preference, not a religion. Although, because the two animals are so different in nature, it is safe to say that a person’s preference either way says a great deal about what kind of person he is, and it takes a very special sort of person to have room in his heart to accept both creatures for what they are.
Regardless as to whether one’s preference is dog, cat, parakeet, or capuchin monkey, there is an undeniable delight in owning or being owned by a pet.
My cat, like most octogenarians, spends most of her time sleeping. The location of her favorite napping place depends on her mood and how she’s feeling. The location will usually change every month or so. For a while, it was my parent’s closet. During the summer, it’s my mother’s chair in the front room by the picture window. Since November, her favorite place has been my bed, preferably while I’m in it. The minute she’s let in the house in the morning, she makes a dash for my door, where she will stare forlornly at the doorknob and meow until someone lets her in. This morning, my mother let her in my room, and she promptly made her way to wherever my face was, purring loudly. Then, in a tactical move uncharacteristic of my rather standoffish feline, the cat curled up in a ball on top of my chest, settling into a contented nap. Not only was I no longer obligated to get up, but I now had every reason to fall back asleep to the purring lullaby sung by my cat.
Back in the summer, when I had my wisdom teeth taken out (a painful ordeal that didn’t stop being painful until this month), the middle cat made her shaggy self at home on the couch where I had to camp for several days. She always seems to know when someone isn’t feeling well, and is the go-to nap cat for whoever has the sniffles. She is the family clown, who has not only the funniest facial expressions but will also talk back to you (by “talk,” I mean “chirpingly meow”) if you talk to her. She is the sociable cat, and she is the most likely to come downstairs when people are visiting and welcome them, and has been known to sit and watch movies with the people invited over for movie nights.
When I was sick over the weekend, the youngest of our feline trio—who normally avoids me for reasons inexplicable—seemed to know that something was wrong with me, and spent hours curled on top of my feet while I slept. Since my feet were warm, the rest of me was warm as well, and I felt much better with the cat keeping me company.
And that, in short, is why I love my cats.