As the entire world knows (because I can’t stop talking about it), I recently began fostering kittens for Orange County Animal Services. Since we began, I’ve learned a lot about cats (and I mean A LOT) and one thing has become abundantly clear.
They’ve been subjected to a massive, international conspiracy.
Personally, I suspect the dogs. They’ve campaigned hard for the “Man’s Best Friend” label. There are children’s movies where dogs are the heroes and cats are the villains. (See: Cats vs. Dogs) Endless memes about dogs having friends and cats having staff.
But I spend virtually twenty-four hours a day with cats and kittens now, and I have to tell you: it’s all shenanigans.
1) Cats aren’t as friendly or social as dogs.
Squeaker isn’t allowed to sleep in our bedroom because he’s a baby and plays all night, so this is how he greets us first thing in the morning:
He spends all day making sure he can see where we are, and from 11-3 naps on my lap while I work. In the evenings he curls up between us on the couch, making sure he can touch both of us at the same time.
And all of our fosters have been the same way! Even the shy ones want to be as close to us as possible, just at a distance their comfortable with. They like socializing and they love their people.
Fun fact! Cats in the wild actually live in colonies. They’re not loners at all. OCAS strongly recommends adopting two kittens or cats at the same time, if you don’t already have a fuzzy friend at home, because they do better in groups. Cats are just as social as dogs and want to be with you. You’re their colony! Their ohana!
2) Cats don’t care about wrecking your stuff.
This comes up more often than “dogs wrecking your stuff” because dogs don’t have the vertical access cats do. But I’m here to tell you that they do care!
Squeaker does like knocking small things onto the floor so he can play with them. But he doesn’t know they’re not toys! He’s a baby, and they’re shaped and sized like his toys, ergo: toys. But just like with dogs, if you let a cat know that it’s important to you, they’ll leave your stuff alone.
Squeaker, and now Nestle, have learned not to walk on my keyboard. They don’t know why, because to them it’s just another flat surface, but they know it’s important to me. Squeaker’s even figured out that I don’t like him messing with any of the stuff on my desk, so he won’t walk anywhere there isn’t a cleared path. How’s that for love?
3) Cats can’t be trained.
So far Squeaker knows how to play fetch, to come when he’s called, and to walk on a leash around the house. The outside is still scary, but we’re working on leash-walking outside too. And if you just check the internet, cats learn all sorts of amazing tricks! High five! Using the toilet! Agility training! Speak! Jackson Galaxy cautions against trying to turn your cat into a dog by training them too much, but there’s no reason your feline friend can’t learn to do everything your canine companion does.
So now I ask you, who benefits from cats getting this bad rap? The answer is obvious:
Because dogs are the “friendly!’ “fun!” “trainable!” ones, they get first crack at being adopted! At shelters dogs have a much higher rate of not only being adopted, but also being reunited if they get separated from their families. People are so used to thinking of cats as loner independent sorts that it doesn’t even occur to us that maybe that calico doesn’t want to be wandering the streets at night, he just can’t find his humans. Meanwhile, if you see a dog on the street your first instinct is to bundle it into your car for cuddles and finding its people.
I don’t know when or how dogs started this clever smear campaign, but I say it ends today! Cats are loving and great! There’s room for both in our human lives! Vive la feline!
Are you a crazy pet person? Do you have more evidence to support the canine conspiracy theory? Do you have cute pictures of your cats? Let me know!
P.S. My manuscript is at 72,000 words, which is nuts, and also being edited.