Saturday, April 18, 2009

Speciesism and puddy tats

I've had cats nearly all my life. I've written about my current cat, Oliver, on this blog before - mainly about getting him and trying to get him to play nicely with the dog. I haven't written about him too much since then because...well, what really is there to write? He does the usual cat stuff along with a few idiosyncrasies that are unique to him but hardly special enough to blog about. Besides, I don't want to be like one of those people who writes about any of his pets as though they're people. I'm fully aware that neither my cat nor my dogs think that they're human. The dogs think I'm a dog and the cat doesn't care one way or another so long as I feed him and provide a warm lap for him to sit on.

So, this isn't a blog about him, but it's a blog about cats. Actually, it's more about the irrational hatred of cats that some people have. Generally speaking, it seems to be men who'll say that they hate them, but I've known a few women who have as well. To me, that's just strange. Now, I once hated a particular cat. That one was my aunt's, and the bastard would attack me as I went by - not a playful attack, mind you, but a claws-out, hiss and growl assault. So, I can understand people not liking certain cats, but the entire species?

I guess the first part that's hard for me to work around is due to the fact that I pretty much like all animals in general. If I had the time, money, and space, I'd probably have a virtual Noah's Ark of animals at my place with everything from dogs and cats to chickens, snakes, tortoises, fish, rabbits, you name it. The second part is that I think of all the cats that I've had. Some of them have been more personable than others, but I can't imagine how any of their behaviors would elicit a person's HATRED. My current cat, Oliver, greets people at the door and likes to hang out in the living room when we have company. Sometimes he will jump up, uninvited, into a person's lap, but he does it out of affection. I guess I can see a person not preferring that (especially if they're allergic) but HATING it? As for the cats of my friends, most of them just stay away while I'm over at their places. Some of them come out for a bit for a short meet and greet, but none of them do anything even remotely objectionable.

Don't get me wrong. I can understand it when a person says that he or she is "not a cat person". I'm not really a horse person myself. (They're too big and I don't really trust them to give me a ride.) Not all animals are for everyone. Of course, I can also understand somebody simply preferring dogs or some other animal to cats. Shoot, my wife fits both of those categories, but she's been pretty attached to both of our cats.

I'm not going to go on and on about a cat's good qualities. I'll just say that Oliver is as good of a companion to me as either of my dogs are. He's always there to greet me in the morning and when I come home from work, and he's always keeping me company when I watch television (or playing video games). Both he and Willy, my indoor dog, are lying down on the floor in the room where I'm writing this very entry. I'm just pointing this out because some people point to a cat's independent nature as a reason for not liking them, but in my experience they've always quickly bonded and become part of the family.

Personally, I think that in the case of a lot of men, their cat hatred is just one more of those macho B.S. things that I never could understand. I once even had somebody assume that Tyson, my last cat, was my wife's and that us having a cat must have been somehow against my wishes. (Tyson was mine from when I was a kid, and we took her in when we got our first house.) Honestly though, this is doubly strange, as I know plenty of men who like cats just fine. Shoot, when we adopted Oliver, there was a big, burly guy in front of us in line who was adopting a little kitten. The way he was cuddling her, it was pretty obvious that he wasn't just doing a favor for the women in his life.

Am I trying to say that everybody should love cats? That everybody should own one? Of course not. I'm just trying to say that it's weird to hate a species of animal. They don't conspire, plot, or deceive. They just do what they do. Besides, if another plague ever hits that's spread by fleas who ride on rats and mice, kitties are suddenly going to get even more popular.

One last note though - I will say that I sympathize with people who get annoyed with their neighbor's cats who poop in their gardens, etcetera. I keep my cat indoors, and I personally think that it's wrong to let ANY pet to have free reign of the neighborhood.

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