Monday, May 8, 2006

Dog or Cat


Every once in a while, Mr. Octopus and I think about getting a pet, a cat or dog. While we aren't serious about it (too much commitment for us), the conversation usually dead ends because we can't decide whether we're dog people or cat people. Most folks seem to know whether they are one or the other. Here is a description of the dog/cat divide. I think the author goes overboard in psychoanalyzing, but she touches on some of the main stereotypes and differences.
Dog people profess to be baffled by the cat person's affection for an animal that provides so little active amusement: Cats will not frolic with you in the surf or fetch sticks or point with their noses at a bird for you to shoot. Because cats can't be trained to do the same sorts of tricks that dogs do, they are considered to be less intelligent, and because they are not by nature as social as dogs, they are seen as comparatively aloof or indifferent to humans. Dog people think cat people are suckers for doting on sneaky, selfish creatures that only pretend to like people in order to get food and other goodies and that will never, say, jump into a raging, flood-swollen river to rescue a small child at the risk of their own lives, as the faithful hound supposedly will.

Cat people heap contempt on dog people for actually thinking a dog's devotion counts for much. A dog's love for its owner is, cat people say, entirely instinctual, indiscriminate and often unearned by its object; you are not loved for yourself but for the position you assume in the dog's life -- anyone else would do as well. Therefore, dog owners must be so desperate for love as to be nearly undeserving of it. The willingness of dogs to learn tricks is a result not of their intelligence but of their dopey eagerness to please. That cats can't be bothered to sit or heel on command is, their partisans insist, a sign that they are more clever by half. Cats are also self-cleaning, slobber-free, handy when you've got a mouse problem and don't have to be walked.
From Salon.

7 comments:

mhelbing said...

Mr. and Mrs. OG are smart people and therefore ought to get themselves a smart pet.

Anonymous said...

It's actually much simpler than described. Cats: low maintenance. Dogs: high maintenance. You can leave a cat alone for three days with nothing but a big bowl of food. Picking a pet is really a lifestyle choice. At the end of the day whichever kind of person you are you end up loving your pet because...it's your pet!

Octopus Grigori said...

What about those robot dogs?

Anonymous said...

dont get a cat. i'm allergic. so is rintu

ivanomartin said...

Also--owning a cat means owning, somewhere in your house, a tray of cat turds.

junebee said...

Cats are trainable (mine comes when I call) and can be sociable. Like children, it depends how they are raised. And they definitely smell better (cats, not children) unless you have the bad luck to get the one in one trillion cat that doesn't clean himself. But the odds are very slim on getting a cat that is not self-cleaning.

hh said...

at least with cats, you know where the turds are and they're usually all tucked away. our landlords in the front house have dogs that sometimes poop at different spots on the walkway in front of our gate. poor frenchie has had the misfortune of stepping on these "presents" two times now by accident when he was leaving to go out.