We have two cats that allow us to live with them. We feed them, clean their litter boxes, and generally cater to their every whim. They set the rules, and we abide by them. We think we have them trained, but that’s only because they have manipulated us into thinking we’re in charge. Thanks to our cats, our lives are not our own. Yes, cats make great pets!
Our cats, Oreo and Keeley, are just the latest in a long line of feline household rulers. Hell, I’ve had cats ruling my life since I was five years old!
The thing about having cats is, like dogs, they provide us with companionship, they help reduce our stress levels, and they make us laugh. But, unlike dogs, it’s pretty much always on their terms.
With a dog, you’re pretty much always going to be given unconditional love. The dog wants nothing more than to please you. Cats, not so much.
Who’s In Control
The cat in your life is in control of how much love it gives and receives. It wants nothing more than for you to provide for its every need. Every day, all day, you need to be there for your cute, furry feline. Because the moment you slip up, and forget who’s boss, you’re toast.
As caring and (relatively) intelligent cat caretakers, Heather and I decided years ago that we could get our cats to respond to the ringing of a bell. When we wanted to feed them, we rang a bell, and they’d come running. They learned that, with the sound of a bell, food would soon be provided. Aren’t we clever? Heather jokingly said we had Pavlov’s cats.
So now you can see that we’re not just a family of nerds, we’re also a family of cats…
The thing is, we simply played straight into our cat’s paws, as it were. We were being manipulated without even realizing it.
The cats came to realize that, by responding to the bell, and receiving food, they could increase their caloric intake. Over time, somehow, our bell ringing became a way to get the cats to come home for dinner. When they were outside, and we rang the bell, they came running and got a treat or their dinner.
The Master Manipulators
We just didn’t see how they were manipulating us. It got to the point where, just by them “choosing” to come in, without the bell ringing, we gave them a treat as a reward. Such fools! So easily manipulated!
Now they come and go 15 times a day so we’ll give them a treat every time they come in. So, do cats make great pets? Sometimes…
Back when I was a single guy in my thirties, I had a dog named Edge. He was a great dog, loyal and loving, just like a dog should be. But he wasn’t a fan of most other dogs, some people, and all cats. He viewed cats as a snack on four legs.
The “Edge” Factor
We lived in a little cottage on a wooded acreage outside of Vancouver. Edge had the run of the property. He loved to run in circles around our little house, up to the back of the property in the woods, and back to the house. He would often run this 2 acre loop three or four times before plopping down at my feet, panting happily.
While living on this property, Heather came into my life. After becoming best friends we started to date. The subject of living together came up, and we both thought it would be great if she moved in with Edge and I, out on our little acreage.
Now, I should mention that Heather had three cats. Yes, it’s true; Heather was a “Cat Lady”, though not a crazy one.
One day while we were hanging out at my place, Edge was out running around, and he came upon a cat. Unfortunately this didn’t go well for the cat. Edge chased the cat and caught it. He had the poor cat in his mouth, shaking it furiously from side to side. Heather and I ran after him, shouting for him to drop the cat, which he promptly did. The cat bolted, and took off in a blur through the woods, apparently unhurt.
But Heather was mortified. She was convinced that she would never be able to move in with me, for fear of what Edge would do to her three cats.
Cats Make Great Pets…
But that’s not what happened. Heather did move in with me. And her cats. All of us, together in my little 600 square foot home in the woods. How could it be that my dog could live with three of his favourite fast foods? Simple. He was terrified of them. And they were indifferent to him. Maybe that’s what makes cats great pets. They’re so damned indifferent!
Once they came into the house, they immediately set the ground rules for the rest of us. Edge learned quickly that they were the boss of him. I was a little slower on the uptake…
The Tasmanian Devil Masquerading As A Cat
One of Heather’s cats was Mika, a tiny little cutie that liked to sit on her shoulders and rub against her head. I sometimes caught Mika peering at me with a strange look in her eyes. Like she didn’t quite trust me. That was understandable, because I didn’t trust her.
One weekend Heather went away to a friend’s wedding, leaving me “in charge” of the animals. It was getting late, and I wanted to get the cats in for dinner. (This was before we had learned to use the bell.)
Mika was out on the grass in front of the house, but she didn’t want to come in. So I foolishly walked over and picked her up. Have you ever seen what a Tasmanian Devil does when provoked?
No, not that one!
Yeah, that was Mika. Turns out, Mika didn’t like being picked up, unless it was Heather doing it. She immediately started squirming, so, like an idiot, I held her even tighter.
Somehow, in an instant, she spun around and sunk her teeth into the web between my thumb and finger. Then she used my leg as a scratching post, puncturing and shredding the skin, through my jeans. At that point I let go, screaming like a little baby.
Mika took off somewhere, never to be seen for the next week. I wrapped my bleeding, mangled hand and headed to emergency for a tetanus shot and a few stitches. And all the while, my dog Edge stood at a safe distance (an acre) away, barking in sympathy. Don’t cats make great pets? Maybe not…
The Cats Just Keep Coming
We’ve had many cats over the years. At one point we had four cats and Edge Dog! What!!? Although that’s partly my fault…
One weekend, after we said we wouldn’t have any more cats, we visited the local mall. The SPCA were there, with a bunch of cats they were wanting to find homes for. In one pen there were several tiny kittens that had been fostered. One little guy stood out. He was feisty, with the most incredible silver-coloured fur. He was just too damn cute! Damn you, cute kitten!
I told Heather that we should got him. Just one more cat. He was so unique. Heather reluctantly agreed, but only because I’m so damn cute…
So Kodi joined our rural menagerie. We named him Kodiak, because he looked like a kodiak bear, with silver-tipped fur and a black face.
But as he got older he lost the silver tips, and his fur grew black, with just a hint of red. He was part Maine Coon, and he kept growing. At one point he weighed 22 pounds, though he was not fat. His paws were huge. And he had the sweetest demeanor.
Kodi also thought he was a dog. As a kitten, he took to Edge like his big buddy. He liked to hang with Edge as much as his human staff. They even hunted rats together!
Time To Say Goodbye
Kodi lived the longest of our cats. He was just shy of 18 years old when we said goodbye. Our son Zachary went with me to the vet when it was time for Kodi to leave us. He stayed with him as Kodi went to sleep for the last time, both of us weeping for the loss of such a great little buddy.
And so we continue to have these little dictators running around our house. Our current pair, Oreo and Keeley, are as different from each other as they are from all our previous cats. I think that’s what’s so great about having cats, or dogs, as pets.
They all have their own personalities, just like people. They’re quirky and funny and moody and demanding and independently dependent. But they have a way of getting under your skin, and finding their way into our hearts. That’s why cats make great pets.