I challenge anyone to challenge me of what I know to be absolute fact … cats are grudge-holding creatures. You get a cat for you to love something. You get a dog if you want something to love you. I’m not saying cats don’t love you, they do, but they’re a little narcissistic and love themselves better. There is a saying by Terry Pratchett: “In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” Sometimes when we are gone for any length of time our cats do not agree with, or we haven’t been paying enough attention to them, they vindicate themselves to all sorts of naughty behavior. I swear my cats can hairball on demand. And can said hairball ever be deposited on a hard surface? Absolutely not. Instead it will land three inches from the tile on the carpet!
Cats also have an warped view of relationships. Basically if they want one you’ll have one and if they don’t you won’t. This is true whether the relationship is between you and your cat, or your cat and other creatures. My cat, Piper, has what I would call a demographic tolerance for our dog Afton. Basically, if Afton is on the other side of the house she’s okay with her but the moment she creeps into what my cat considers “her domain,” the hissing and swatting begins. Pathetically Afton, (a gentle giant of a Burnese Mountain dog) has somehow misinterpreted this abusive dose of attention for affection, and lovingly continues to stand there and take it. There was one time where I felt that Piper actually liked Afton. We had been gone for a week vacation and when we came back she allowed their noses to touch and I almost thought that she would cuddle up. But like the flick of a switch, Piper suddenly remembered her grudge, hissed and ran away. Once again reminding the dog that she was the queen bee in the relationship.
Our other cat, Tucker, is much more tolerant. He simply stays out of it and stares at us with wide eyes, silently judging our next moves and calculating when it is “safe” to enter. Cautious and smart, he is the epitome of a “cool cat,” slinking in and out of a room with silent grace. Unfortunately, that grace is interrupted about fifty times a day, when he sneezes. Yes. Dramatic irony number one … my cat has allergies. Ever since he was a kitten he’s had them, and even more ironically – I think he might have a slight allergy toward dogs. Whenever he and Afton get close, the snot-fest begins. This is not to mention his affinity for using the litter box at the most in-opportune times. He always tends to drop a noxious little gift in there right before we have company!
So why do we do cats? It’s a logical question. Sigmund Freud believed, “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” And though I don’t make it a habit to agree with Freud on many things (You probably wouldn’t either if you read his studies!) I do agree on this one. Because even when there are messes and accidents and allergies, there are also snuggles, and gentle purrs, and patience. Whenever we go away, the first thing we say as we drive into our driveway is I wonder how the cats and dog are? I wonder if they missed us? All in all, home isn’t quite home without the fur and the mess, and the love. There are little paws that reach out to touch my children’s arms while they sleep. There are tiny cold noses that nuzzle in after we’ve been gone for a time. There is a small, warm lump under the covers that meows a “Welcome home,” each day … and those small things, somehow, are enough.