Cats or Dogs?

Having a pet can be a challenge, especially with an active lifestyle. A person who decides to own a pet usually settles on a cat or a dog, becoming a “cat person” or a “dog person.” A common social belief is that pet ownership is divided into these factions, which are not to be crossed over. Once the path is chosen, rarely does a person change. But how many are crossovers, like me? I grew up a dog person, but my husband is a cat person, so when we got married, I converted. When my brother got married, rather than switching over, he blended cats and dogs, which I can’t understand. More than two pets seems overwhelming to me, but in his house, it’s the norm.

Growing up with dogs meant constant maintenance: feeding, grooming, exercising, and playing with them. Cats, however, are more self-maintained and self-motivated. Dogs press themselves on their owners, licking and nuzzling when their masters get home. Cats tolerate their master’s existence, and all contact is on the cat’s terms. Affection is earned by the dog from its human, but earned by the human from the cat. Dogs can hear “no” and stop; cats can hear “no” and ignore it, sometimes with a gleam in their eye. Having been both a dog person and a cat person, I realize the merits and responsibilities of both, but it seems like since I’ve become a cat person, I’m not allowed to cross back over. This conflict inspired in me the following poem:

Promised a friend I’d help him move last week,
Showed up early thinking to beat the heat.
Stepped through the door and wedged myself inside,
Saw two cats; the little black ran to hide.

Staring from the hiding place, green eyes just say no
But the big gray puffball rubs my leg hello
Never been a cat person; dogs I understand
Set boundaries early, and they’ll be a friend.

What is it with cats? Why the smug disdain?
Why do they judge before you even know their name?
Gulliver, the gray, thinks I’ve passed his test
He settles in my lap as if he plans to nest.

Moxie, on the other hand, silently stares me down
Waggling my fingers, I try to coax her around.
It’s no use, she won’t deign to be friendly
I withdraw in defeat; those claws are deadly.

Next time I promise to help out a friend,
I think I’ll make sure he’s the canine kind instead.

I’m not sure if I will ever choose to own a dog again. I’d have to fix my fence, which the cats ignore. I’d have to pick up after it, which I do weekly for my cats anyway. I’d have undying devotion when I got home, instead of aloof tolerance waiting for my lap to appear. I’d probably get a lot more exercise . . . so maybe I’ll think about it. Then again, maybe not.