Dogs have been featured in several columns, so it’s not surprising a few readers noticed cats have been ignored. I’ll try to rectify that to some extent today but should disclose a substantial bias. I believe, without any reservation, dogs are rightfully designated as man’s best friend.
I once read of a simple test to determine whether your wife or dog loves you more. It suggested putting them in the car trunk for a short ride, then letting them out. “Who,” the writer asked, “do you think will be happiest to see you?”
That seemed like a valid exercise, but my truck doesn’t have a trunk. Besides, there’s no room for debate about who would wag their tails and jump into our arms.
Cats, unlike dogs, are quite unpredictable. The initial hurdle in using that same assessment would be getting a cat into a trunk, unless it’s their idea. A case in point is my wife’s admirable attempt to save our feline friend, Tabs, from a monstrous snake. Based on her description it was either a boa constrictor or Burmese python.
Tabatha McGee Joiner was behaving rather strangely, so Jane took a closer look. Rather than stalking her usual prey of lizards and birds, she had crept within an arm’s length of an oversized foe. Jane feared our cat might be biting off more than she could chew.
Four out of ten men would have blasted the snake into eternity. One would have gently relocated it to a new home. The other five would have wished the cat good luck, even if it was halftime during a lopsided game. Women, however, have a strong protective gene and incomparable courage. That works great taking care of children but not always with cats.
Urgent pleas could not distract Tabs from the fascinating buffet. Although Jane is afraid of gigantic snakes of any persuasion, she made a rescue grab that came with a painful lesson. Our cat doesn’t adhere to the adage, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
Jane’s hand was sore for two weeks. Thankfully, it didn’t get infected, but twice I found her curled up in a sunny spot making purring sounds. That made me a bit nervous at bedtime, but she keeps her nails cut short and the symptoms diminished as the punctures healed.
Assuming that a man was able to get his spouse and cat into a trunk together, we can’t know what might happen when the lid is popped. The cat may be glad to see him, or it could scamper off and hide for a while. The third outcome might be menacing hisses as it dares him to touch it. Cats make their own rules. They aren’t prone to take orders.
The thing that bothers me most with cats is that it’s hard to tell what they’re thinking. Dogs have telling facial expressions including disarming smiles. Even when they aren’t grinning their tails wag in appreciation of the tiniest show of kindness. Cats, however, have an aloofness that leaves me wondering if they are up to some mischief, like pouncing on an unsuspecting target.
Feline affection also comes in odd forms. Tabs brings mice, lizards, and birds to our doorsteps. We’d rather she didn’t, but I guess she wants us to know she’s earning her keep. I wish we could train her to leave the birds alone, but I can tell by her yawns she never pays attention to my lectures.
If you see me running in our side yard at full speed, which is about three miles per hour, I’m chasing rabbits. Tabs has regrettably caught a few that were too slow or naive. Bunnies don’t stand a chance against her sharp claws, so I encourage them to move on. My wife’s flower garden, however, keeps them coming back. Maybe that’s why our precocious pet is partial to her.
Tabs has some behaviors we’d like to change but also some endearing qualities. When I sit in our garage to put on my work shoes, she faithfully joins me on the bench. She rubs up against me and meows softly, making it impossible not to scratch behind her soft ears. At night I caution her about rambling in the woods where the bobcats and coyotes prowl, but she doesn’t listen and has no idea we worry about her.
The title of man’s best friend belongs to the dogs, but if you’ve never held a purring cat in your lap you might want to give it a try. In a contest for second place, that’s where my vote would go.