Monday, July 20, 2009 5:05 PM

Cat (and Dog) People


Have you ever wondered why some of us are "cat people" and others are "dog people"? Obviously, I have! Is it one of those nature v. nurture things, whereby we just naturally gravitate toward one or the other, or does it depend more on whether we grew up in a "cat" or "dog" household? Or does it depend on other factors entirely?

In my case, my mother always had a cat and made no bones (ha ha) of the fact that she disliked dogs (my father didn't seem to have an opinion on this). We were given a poodle mix pup by a relative, but the poor thing never seemed to fit in and was given to a more appreciative owner in short order. While I never actively disliked dogs, I was not given enough time to bond with this particular one, either. So, we remained a "cat only" household.

After college, I worked for veterinarians and was exposed to more dogs than cats, since dogs visit the vet more often. Some dogs I liked more than others, of course, but was never tempted to take any of them home. I can't say the same of the cats--I took a couple home overnight for special treatments (eye drops every four hours, or something similar) and even adopted one that the owners didn't want. My preference was quite set by this time in my life, apparently.

Did I inherit my mother's love of cats? Maybe. Not her dislike of dogs, though, so maybe that's not the whole story. Even though I had grown up around cats, I certainly had an opportunity later to acquaint myself with canines, but still preferred cats. So, it clearly wasn't purely an environmental effect, either. I also had friends with dogs, large ones, who always insisted on jumping on me whenever I saw them (the dogs, I mean). These were the times when I would most often hear the comment, "You're a cat person, so you just don't like dogs". While I am certainly a cat person, I didn't dislike any dog, particularly theirs. They were very nice dogs--I just happen to be a small person and a big dog can knock me over. So, naturally I would complain, and that was my answer. I guess it depends on your perspective!

As for "other factors" other than nature and environment, I have to say that all my life cats have almost literally dropped into my lap. The cat I took home from the vet was going to be put to sleep if I did not take it. A beautiful cat I named Handsome simply showed up on my roommate's and my doorstep one day and wouldn't leave. What could we do? J. insisted that we stop and look at kittens that fateful day that I wound up with Sweet Pea. He brought Min home from the factory at which he worked, since he was sick with an abscess and needed care. The three I have now were born right outside of my work place window--do you see a pattern here?

So what's the verdict? It seems it must be a combination of nature, nurture and fate. Also, as we all know, there are people who have cats and dogs, and often other animals as well. Then there are those who have no pets at all. Try to explain that one! In pet ownership, as in most things in life, there are no hard and fast answers. That winds up our philosophical discussion for today.
Chat later!

Above is Punkin, a member of Miss P.'s multi-species household!

1 comments:

July 23, 2009 at 6:36 AM

I grew up with a mother who insisted that our female cat simply had to beg for her dish of milk - I hated this really. Why should she have to beg I constantly asked. When after many years later, and children teenaged, we started racing pigeons, it was more or less standard practice to keep a dog in the same garden to deter cats. So for 20 years, dogs and pigeons ruled the household. Inevitably time passed, older and less able to keep up with the vigorous almost athletic, daily routine, sadly the birds had to go. After the last dog was taken from us due to an unseen ulcer bursting and flooding his lungs, the house seemed empty - family also flown the nest. Until Candy - a 9year female tortoiseshell cat was evicted from the house next door - for making a mess on her owners kitchen mat. She camped under the wheel arch of my husband's van parked in our garden for 18 months which included 2 severe winters. She gratefully ate the food we provided but could not be tempted to cross our threshold, there was a 20 odd year smell of dogs who had constantly barked at her through the fence and she was taking no chances. We were ecstatic when one day she took the plunge and finally settled down in our living room.
She fit the bill in every way, no having to take for walkies, no having to go out with shovel. No having to take for training tosses like the pigeons. And would settle down on anyones knee for a kip. Then of course she delighted all the Grand children, loving the attention. Since then, cats and more cats, Now a widow I have 5 cats brought up from kittens, all very different characters, using litter trays, going off on their adventures, returning home when hungry, giving me love and as a bonus, often bringing me gifts - dead mice and birds.
A special bonus for me, they act as guards, turning heads and pointing ears whenever they hear strangers approaching the house.

What more can anyone wish for in a companion?

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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