In This Cat and Dog World, Are You a Kitty or a Pooch?

Archie Goodwin

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.

Ruby, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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’.

Garden Gatherings, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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.


About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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6 Responses to In This Cat and Dog World, Are You a Kitty or a Pooch?

  1. Your depication of the Chihuahua is sublime. Our family is definitely of the feline persuasion. My Dad especially loves our two cats. Oftentimes when he returns from a long day at work, he catches a glimpse of our calmly independent and patient red tabby cat, grabs him and begins, “so you mangy flea bag…so you think you’re king of the world now, huh? What if I take you to Siberia? Want to cool down a bit? Bet you won’t be self-assured after Siberia…”, and proceeds to stick the poor victim into the freezer. Good times.

  2. Kelly Hay says:

    I am so glad to have stumbled across your blog. Your writing is sublime! I actually own one of those shivering, insecure Chihuahuas … mine is incontinent to boot. He spends a lot of time sunning himself on our back porch – but when inside the house, I’ve had to relent to putting doggy diapers on him. Oh the horror … he used to be litter box trained like a cat. I miss those “cat-like” days.

    • Why on earth are they so insecure? The entire household revolves around them!

      To their credit, though, they’re smart — and I could see where they could be litterbox trained, although the image is most amusing.

  3. stewartry says:

    Oh, but – no offense to your College Girl, or even Ruby – chihuahuas aren’t dogs! They’re rats with a good PR firm.

    A proper dog is a creature who will willingly risk spraining her tail greeting you at the door (as our beagle has – three times over the years); who will when you cry either walk away after giving you a dirty look (as our first dog did – “again??“) or come sit on you till you laugh (as you will if you have enough breath – our second dog, who did this, was about 90 pounds. The current beagle’s easier on one’s anatomy). A proper dog is neither supplicating nor subjugated, but supportive and unselfish and funny, which doesn’t start with S but is something all our dogs have been.

    I like cats well enough – but I will never be without a dog.

    I don’t feel the World of Work treats us like a pack … I’ve always felt it’s more like a combination insane asylum and regimented kindergarten. “No, it doesn’t make sense, but do it anyway because we tell you to.” “Dress this way; behave this way; think this way; drink the Kool-Aid and if you have a quirky sense of humor then for the love of Warren Buffett don’t show it or you’ll be called on the carpet” … and then the pink slip, sometimes whether you’ve behaved or not.

    Which is when you need a dog to come sit on your lap.

    • For all that I adore cats, the darn things will not sit in my lap — out of 6 right now, not one of them, unless, of course, I am reading the newspaper and they curl up on that.

      What does sit on my lap is the wretched quakey shaky Chihuahua, the minute I sit anywhere.

      Ah well, I can be happy for what I have. Your dogs sound like true furry friends.

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