March 6, 1992

Cats and Dogs

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow.

Jeff Valdez

Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you.

Roy Blount, Jr.

My favorite columnist Mike Royko says that "Men don't like cats. Only women do. If you took an honest scientific survey, you would find that 97.3 percent of all men dislike and distrust cats. Probably more, but you know how some people lie to pollsters." He goes on to say that getting men to like cats is part of a conspiracy to turn "normal males into wimps."

If true, it indicates that men don't like anything that is independent, savage and loving. They prefer dogs, which are fawning, totally dependent on their masters, and don't know the difference between a stick and an edible animal. It should be obvious that any animal that is called man's best friend has no discernment whatever.

I actually like dogs and have owned several in my lifetime. Like other men, I like anything or anyone who thinks that I am the most wonderful person in the world. I like something that will do what I tell it with no argument and will lick my hand. When I came home, my dog was obviously delighted to see me, and would show it by having a jump-up-and-down ecstatic fit. What man can resist affection and subservience like that in a pet --or a woman.

If you know what you're doing, you can train a dog to do almost anything that a dog can do, on command!: sit, stay, beg, lie down, roll over, play dead, fetch, kill, maim, pant, bark, sniff --you name it. Try to do that with a cat and you're doomed to frustration. Marine World has a trained cat show. Now that takes skill. To train a cat, you have to do it in such a way that the cat thinks that it's her own idea.

Dogs may slobber over you as a sign of affection; cats never do. When a cat licks your hand it's because your hand either has something on it that tastes good to a cat, or because it thinks that you're dirty and need to be cleaned. Have you ever had the sole of your foot licked by a cat? If you can take more than two or three licks, you're a masochist. If your cat tries to bury you, you know that you've had it.

The words that we associate with dogs are kind, loyal, brave, bootlick, sycophant, flatterer, apple polisher, slavish, servile, obsequious, kowtowing, obeisant, whining, whimpering, sniveling, brown-noser, cringer, groveler.

For cats we have independent, free thinking, individualistic, natural, self-willed, self-reliant, free and affectionate. Cats are loyal, but it isn't the bootlicking type of loyalty. Cats are also practical; no cat would risk its life for you. When danger comes, a cat will take off like a big-assed bird.

The dog is the ultimate courtier. I find courtiers boring. After a few brief performances, a courtier is as interesting as a flower arrangement. Cats are much more interesting to me; at least my two cats are. They have been allowed to retain their original savagery, while being allowed to become attached to us. They have both lost their gonads, which keeps them from being preoccupied with sex; a perennial problem with mammals. My cats can be both wild and domestic animals. They spend most of the time out of doors and earn their keep by keeping the rodent population under control. There is more to their lives than just serving the master. They have a life at home and their own life as well. If people disappeared, my cats would probably still be able to survive.

What I like about my cats, besides the fact that they like me, is that they are as cussed and independent as I am; or as my wife is. Yes, I like the same traits in a woman: intelligence, resourcefulness, independence and lovingness.

Like Royko, I also took an honest scientific survey of both cats and dogs. I asked them how they liked people. Ninety five percent of the dogs said "Grrreat". Two pit bulls said "rare". Twenty percent of the cats interviewed said "Wow!" Twenty percent didn't like people at all, and 60% were undecided.

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