Beside my keyboard is a little notepad in which I write important things so I remember them: continue to eschew social media, take bin down to gate, trim toenails etc …
On the cover of the little pad is a picture of a cat above which hangs a framed saying – a code, if you like – for felines to live by. It reads: If it’s exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.
Naturally enough, this got me thinking about the differences between cats and dogs. A dog would never hang that sign. Theirs would be more like: I’m totally here for you [but a tickle behind the ears wouldn’t go amiss].
Toss a stick and a dog will go bounding after it, bring it back and drop it at your feet so you can do it again. It will do this for hours and hours and hours and possibly into the next day.
Throw a stick for a cat and it will put its nose in the air, strut off in a different direction and start cleaning its paws. But drag something on the end of a string, and a cat will chase it. Unless, of course, it’s feeling a bit tired.
Dogs don’t purr. This doesn’t mean they can’t produce noise. They can, at the slightest hint of a threat to your security [eg a leaf blowing across the lawn], begin to bark. And bark and bark and bark. No amount of reasoned reassurance will calm the racket. That leaf is a threat and your dog has a job to do.
There is something pleasing about a cat’s purr. I have no idea how the little motor works, but it is clearly triggered by pleasure.
Dogs may not purr but they make up for it with slobber. Gloop or liquid love? Cats don’t tend to slobber.
I feel that if cats could type they would write ads to hire staff. A dog is happy to be your staff; you are the pack leader and your dog is there to serve your needs. It actually enjoys being subservient.
My observations suggest that dogs eat more voraciously than cats. There is definitely wolf in their approach. And when a thirsty dog drinks from a 30cm diameter bowl, traces of the water will be found several metres away.
On the other hand, cats eating can even look dainty.
Cats are harder to read than dogs. We can trust our interpretation of a dog’s emotional expression. The wagging tail is a dead giveaway and if you’ve ever owned a dog you’ll know what guilty looks like. Nothing in the world looks guiltier than a guilty dog.
Cats seem to behave mysteriously at night. Dogs are too busy inside sleeping though the bark mode will, by default, swing into action if there is a noise outside that is not germane to the night. BARK, BARK, BARK! [It sounds louder at night.]
A dog will wait all day for you to come home from work – okay, with a few naps along the way – and then show its pleasure when you return. Perhaps unbridled passion would have been a better turn of phrase than pleasure.
If you remind your cat that you’ve returned home from work, a possible response will be, “Whatever!”
I feel, in case you think I have given cats too much bad press, I should conclude by saying I’m an animal lover, so I like both cats and dogs. And I need to point out that dogs have faults too – eating slippers and digging holes in gardens to name but two – so perhaps I have evened things up a little.
But both make cute and cuddly companions.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.