It’s hard to believe, but there are some people out there who just don’t like cats.
“Too independent,” they sniff, as if being independent were such a bad thing.
Frankly, if you’re looking for something that will sit in your lap and adore you, a shivering, shaking, quakey, insecure Chihuahua fits the bill. Our College Girl’s Ruby, which unfortunately is not allowed in any housing anyplace in any college town, has adopted me as her surrogate owner, and my derriere barely brushes the cushions before the four-pound blunder is up and burrowing beneath my shirt. Plus, she smells.
If I deposit her on the floor and head to the porch for a cat — any one from our collection; I don’t care — I am greeted by a baleful stare and measured consideration: “Yes, I would enjoy being inside the house as opposed to outside, but not if that means that I have to sit on a human lap.”
Admittedly, that attitude does grate. But then I turn and meet the supplicating and subjugated liquidy brown eyes of the Chihuahua thing. That grates too.
It goes without saying that the world needs both cats and dogs, and some people will like one better than the other. Personally, I fall at my kitties’ litterbox paws and thank them for their mouse hunting prowess.
I also like that independent streak, probably because I wear a huge swathe of it like a banner draped over my torso, as does the Norwegian Artist and our four progeny. Let”s put it this way: none of us were hugely popular in junior high, the Alpha Dog around which a couple of Betas swarmed, maintaining order and adoration among the orbiting Gammas and Deltas.
Detatched Omicrons and Upsilons in an orbit of our own, we were the felines watching, balefully, from the sidelines.
We didn’t fit in, but that was okay, we told ourselves, because junior high doesn’t last forever. And quite frankly, we had no desire to be Gammas and Deltas. At some point, we reasoned, people grow up and think for themselves, finding a security and confidence in their own abilities and judgments as opposed to the collective reasoning of the Alpha-dominated group.
The odd thing about our society, however, is that in some segments of it, junior high does, indeed, last far beyond 7th and 8th grade. In more than one social environment we have found ourselves on the outiside looking in at Deltas and Gammas thronging around the Alpha, but the parties involved were adults, supposedly.
At work, in church, within clubs, the Betas sent the message: “You don’t work well in a Team environment. You need to learn how to work under appropriate Leadership.”
In our contemporary climate of team Team TEAMwork, we are suspicious of anyone who does not slot into the group, and our favorite sports are football, basketball, baseball as opposed to cross-country track, swimming, and yoga. Today’s mantra calls for us all to work together, similar to the children’s Sunday School ditty that is best left to its well-earned obscurity, as opposed to being the person who observes and sizes up the atmosphere before grabbing a drink off the tray and circulating into the room.
It is especially confusing in the World of Work, which vacillates between using Group Game TeamTeam talk and Fun Fresh Family Fare.
“We’re all part of the Family Team,” they sing.
Until the pink slip comes.
Then, suddenly, you are on your own, outside and Omicronned, genetically altered from a Labrador Retriever to an alley cat.
And at that point, oddly, you find yourself surrounded by other cats. Not snuggled up next to you necessarily, but close enough that you can feel their breath and their presence.
Yesterday I found Archie, our enormous neutered white cat with the black toilet-plunger tail, in a field a half-mile away from our home. The Cat of the Baskervilles, we call him, run off to an environment far from the Vile Eddie, our black cat who chased him to the neighbors’.
Feeling like a thief, I bundled Archie into our car and brought him back “Home,” where he promptly hid under the car. A few feet away he was joined by his Mamma, Mia and brother, Jasper, in silent support. They flanked him and protected him from the Vile Eddie, but not at the expense of requiring him to turn canine and romp around with the Pack. Quite seriously, you can’t turn a cat into a dog.
Cats don’t travel in packs. They work best independently, but always remember their litter mates; they are there to fight for one another and sit in companionable proximity.
In the world of cats and dogs, I really prefer the cats.