Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cats and Cardio
"There is something about the presence of a cat...that seems to take the bite out of being alone." Louis Camuti

At your next dinner party, forget politics, sex or religion. Just bring up the subject of cats and dogs and the fur will start to fly. Most pet owners have extreme, passionate opinions when it comes to the canine-feline debate.

If you don't have a pet, you may think you're smart but are probably a little lonely. Possibly a tiny bit misogynistic, truth be told. Pets require more communication and commitment than children. Or a spouse. And frankly, the return on investment is much better, unconditional-love-wise.

But back to the debate. Dog lovers tend to be loud, pedantic and well, often insufferable in defense of their various hairy breeds. They make disdainful faces at cat owners (you know the look), as if a cat isn't a "real" pet.

Ignorant philistines.

Cat owners never put dogs down. We just smile pleasantly and say, "How nice for you, I bet it's tiring to walk Bruiser late at night." We're a little smug because we know the magical, practical secret of cat ownership: big love, very little maintenance.

Plus, dog owners don't understand the cat gestalt. Cats are genuine, card-carrying pets. They're only independent when they have to be ... or when you force them to be. Most pet cats act pretty much like dogs. They bond with you. Sometimes on your head even.

Sure, not many cats sit up or roll over, but not many cat owners care about dumb animal tricks. We go for the grace, the pace, the purr, the personality. Our cats have habits and tendencies and behaviors as varied as our own.

They don't attack strangers. They don't sniff Uncle Ned's crotch or hump Grandma's leg. They might hiss if somebody brings a dog to visit (ours camps out on top of the fridge when my sister brings her Lab, Lucy), but mostly they show polite indifference.

With their owners, a different story. Far from standoffish, they vie endlessly for your attention. Your lap. Your hand stroking their fur. And the always popular, I Want To Playyyyy..... usually in the middle of the night.

They're so cute. Running sprints up and down the hall. Slamming into the slider at that bird on the other side. Meowing in all manner of voices: I need food, you left me alone all day/for three days, my litter's dirty, I'm gonna hurl, stop typing and pet me!

Nobody has to throw cats tennis balls, they play with their toys on their own. That's the good kind of independence. Playing, staying, eating, sleeping, eliminating ... they don't need you for any of it. But they want you. Love you. And if you want to love them, they're on you in a flash.

Now a new study from the University of Minnesota says cat owners are less at risk for heart attack and stroke. Less than those with dogs. Or no pets. The study doesn't mention children.

Our kid's grown and gone. Our cat's reading this over my shoulder and nodding sagely. I'm calm as could be. Maybe we'll change her name to Lipitor.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Sally! And guess what? Our cat's name is Viagra because she's always up for anything any time! <-;)

12:27 PM  

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