IN LIFE, change happens in small boring steps. Like pushing a cart up a hill: it is hard to gain momentum and even harder to change course.
Only once you’ve beaten inertia, can you steer the wheel.
There are other times though.
Times, when small decisions can bring a whole lot of quick change, when you tip over the edge and start a rapid descent, and stopping would be great, but it’s not possible.
This kind of change can be uncomfortable, even confusing. It makes you question the difference between who you are and what you do.
Like, when I got a cat.
How you spend your days is how you spend your life
A few months ago, we adopted a cat. A “British short hair”, and I’ll start by declaring my love for this animal.
It has the cutest and roundest possible face. Beautiful eyes. Grey fur, soft and fluffy, through which the sun shines during her afternoon naps when she stretches across the living room floor in springtime.
This pet is part of our home: she wakes with us and awaits us at the door, plays and entertains us all day.
When I leave the house, I look into her sad eyes and then I think about them when I go out for a walk.
“I think of her so often, this must be love…”
Just the other day I thought:
“Oh, it’s such a shame that my cat cannot come with me for this walk.”
And with this yearning for a walking pet, at that moment, from the back of my mind, a thought have risen:
“Wait a minute… a cat cannot, but a dog can walk! …and it even listens to its name! Oh, bejeezus, I was blinded by this cat-love! But now, out of the house I start to remember: I was a dog person once!”
“Meow… people can change! You have nothing to loose, but your dog leashes! Just separate your identity from the things you like!”, haunts the spectre of my whiskered overlord.
“Maybe, or… Wait a minute, no! Morals of an alley cat! But we have another saying where I come from: a dog will never become bacon!”
Growing up in Cat Town
I am a dog owner. Well, not now, but ever since I remember I had dogs. (Okay, my family did.)
Cat Town: named not because of the stature of the cat holders, but by virtue of quantity.
Cats were dime a dozen there. And the cat-people were the lazy ones. They had an animal just for the sake of having one, out of pure selfishness!
“Just lock it inside the house, or let it out to the garden, or to the street! It’ll surely survive the day, even drop some kittens at the neighbours garage. Not your problem, eh?”
But we were different!
My family and friends had dogs. Owning a dog represented honesty and virtue: a well-kept dog meant a well-kept conscience.
An incomplete list of eulogies:
- my last dog, Benjamin died 5 years ago while I was in university (lovely Golden Retriever, a true friend, loved it with all my heart for 14 years).
- his clumsy friend Vincent (lovely dog, loved it for 10 years, poor thing had epilepsy).
- Roarky (a terrible dog, but we loved him. He ran away after just one year, disappeared, phoof… He might’ve not loved us).
- Lennie (a Hungarian Puli, damn protective. He loved the children, but did not like people approaching the children.)
- my grandmothers violent and white poodle, Hanky (The grandma was the farming and animal breeding kind; the poodle was the super clean and fussy kind, and cows made him nervous. He bit me many times.)
- etc. many others
So during my childhood in the village, having a dog meant something. You were a straight up person: a caretaker, an evening walker, a social talker, a garden owner and a responsible part of the community.
While having a cat meant…
Let’s be honest, it meant you decided not to fight the feline infestation.
A Path to Happiness
It is hard for my enthusiasm for dogs to be put into words. I don’t just love them, I think they are an exemplary way of living:
- laying in the garden
- running around
- being cheerful for others
- taking nothing personally
- loving without questions
- not losing enthusiasm when rejected
I mean, would anyone not want a friend like this? Or a relative, a child, a parent like this?
To put it simply, there is no such thing as a sarcastic dog or a judgemental dog.
No dog says:
Are you really gonna walk with me this way? Okay… I guess. 😒
Dogs embrace love and vulnerability and this can only mean that dogs lead the way towards an authentic and happy life.
A Doggy Dog World
As a thought experiment, I would even say that a social system based on the values and behaviour of dogs would be quite a fair and successful one:
- not wasting food
- accepting the social order with a smile
- always being interesting in peers (aka smelling each other’s butt)
- taking part in group activities (aka howling at the moon en masse)
- being a good boy (aka not sharing hateful stuff on social media)
THUS it is evident that on all levels thinkable, dogs triumph over most (if not all) other mammal lifeform.
And half a year of a cat is hardly going to change this.
A Depressed Review of Cat:
If you are lucky and find one with a good personality, it will be fun — it is a good pet. Low maintenance. It is genuinely a solid choice for a pet and a great upgrade to your ficus.
But if you had a dog before… it will not compare. Not because cats are less cute, playful or curious, but because they have a life of their own. Cats are like your university boyfriend or girlfriend: loving you in every way, but wary of commitment. Dogs on the other hand: dogs are for life.
Times, they are a’changing
Writing all this down, I see that I could’ve been born to a cat family, and the stories would’ve been different.
So, let me be a bit more fair, and summarise my cat story.
In one late November evening, Luna arrived at our doorsteps. Not unplanned, but surprisingly fast.
Luna has her opinions and stubbornly pursues them. (They are usually about things standing on the table while they shouldn’t be.)
She is curious to a fault. Soft and friendly, like no village cat I have ever met. Comes and sits in one’s lap, purrs lovingly.
So come gather ‘round people, wherever you walk your canine! Here’s it is: having a cat is a quarter of the labour but still gives you plenty of joy in return.
Plus, you can still get a dog next to it, achieving some form of synthesis to the cat-dog antis.