Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cat People

The Cincinnati Zoo lost its renowned male cheetah last week.

For whatever reason, this wasn't on the local news until today. I don't know why not; it's not like we've had anything else newsworthy going on here in the Cincy area (snow, ice, some more snow.)

This was a beautiful animal and was my top reason for going to the zoo once every summer the last few years. A few times a week they put him in a special area and let him run up to top speed to show zoo visitors what the fastest land animal on earth can do. It was amazing; a nature show with a camera following the cheetah just doesn't capture its awesomeness like seeing the big cat run across an open expanse, leaving dust in its wake.

The story made me unrationally sad. It's been a big news week for animals in peril; yesterday both a horse and a dog fell through two different tri-state ponds' ice, and though both are now okay, it was hard to watch the footage. Ainsley and I found ourselves in front of the TV yesterday afternoon, both holding our breath, hoping that the horse up to its neck in icy water got pulled out in time. He did. But now I hear about Mora the cheetah, and I am more troubled than I should be.

I think it's a cat thing.

I am a sucker for a sad cat story. Just a couple of weeks ago, I found myself welling up during dinner when the local news covered not one, but two incredible accounts of feline survival. The first was of a family who had narrowly escaped their burning home who were mourning the presumed death of their new kitten in the fire. When one of the daughters went to the remains of the house to salvage some belongings she heard meowing. The baby kitty miraculously survived the fire and was under the rubble of one of the bedrooms. The second was of a beloved cat who was let out of a house by an overnight guest who didn't realize said kitty was supposed to stay indoors no matter how loudly it pawed at the door. The cat disappeared, but one year later was found back in the area and taken in by a foster mom who posted an ad about the cat. The original owner saw the ad, and cat and "mom" were reunited.

I've even blogged sad cat stories. I say all the time that I am an animal lover. But I think I need to be specific here, having never blogged about dogs, or birds, or turtles in crisis: I am a cat person.

I know that some of you are cat people, too. And some are dog people. And my sister is a bird person (for now; she changes animal allegiances the way some people change hairstyles.) I've seen debates between "dog people" and "cat people" become as heated as debates between democrats and republicans. I think there are some fundamental differences between those who favor the feline and those who favor the canine; it's a personality thing.

I may be completely stereotyping here. But here's what I've noticed about cat people:

We're kinda shy. We work hard when we need to, but we like being lazy. We're the type of people who, if a friend calls and says, "I've got free front row seats for a concert featuring this great up and coming band who are supposed to be the next big thing, and by the way, backstage passes, too, but we could just stay home and eat chocolate and wrap up in blankets and watch The Office tonight," would probably respond with, "Hey, that sounds cool...I mean, the staying home and watching The Office part." We have a small group of really close friends who we are intensely loyal to. Don't make us mad, though, even if you're in that beloved group; we hold grudges. To people outside of that small group we may seem aloof or indifferent, but more often than not, we are just big softies once you get to know us.

Dog people are a little more outgoing, a little more adventurous. Many of my grandest "adventures" have been initiated by the dog people in my life. At heart, my husband is a dog person even though we have never owned one together and instead were owned by a cat. Dog people are warm people who generally have a large group of friends and acquaintances; this is probably because many dog people genuinely like the company of other human beings and are a little more social. I think dog people are a little easier to read; you know where you stand with a dog person. If they love you, they'll show it. Tick one off, and she'll let you know. None of that passive-agressive grudge-holding cold-shoulder cat person bullcrap. I would bet money that Christian Bale is a dog person.

Dog people have probably already seen or read Marley and Me; we cat people are holding out for Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (starring Meryl Streep! Seriously!)

So, talk back. Are you a cat person or a dog person? And how badly did I get you wrong here?


Robert K. said...

I'm a dog person, but I don't think I'm outgoing or adventurous. I would agree that dogs in general are pretty outgoing and open, in contrast to cats. If you're kind of shy and have trouble making friends, that makes it really nice to have a dog, because it usually doesn't require much effort to get a dog to like you

Karen said...

Okay, your description of cat people kind of scared me. Ssshhhh...don't go telling the world how I am!! :)

Library Lady said...

It's funny, Rob. I always thought of you as kinda outgoing in college. You seemed pretty comfortable talking to people, and you used to talk in class a heck of a lot more than I could ever get the courage to (at least, the couple of classes we had together. I don't think I answered a single question in that Philosophy of Religion class.) But maybe I'm not so right about dog people being more outgoing and social...I think maybe the word I'm looking for is "approachable." I think you're a pretty approachable person (and many, but not all, of the dog people I know fit this bill.) If you like dogs, you have to be comfortable with them getting all up in your personal space from the get-go. Those same people are maybe a little more comfortable with people approaching them, too. Just a thought.

By the way, how did we meet and start talking in college? Was it Karen?

And speaking of Karen...Karen, me, you, and "CoryCaleb" are THE stereotypical cat people. I was thinking of the three of us when I wrote that description!

Robert K. said...

I think you, me, Jason, and Tammy met while watching "Wayne's World" in the theater in the basement of the library. But yes, we didn't really start hanging out and get to know each other until Karen and I got involved.

And I guess I see your point about me being comfortable talking in class, for example. But I still don't think I make friends easily (I've lived in Oklahoma 10 years, for example, and the only friend I've made is my wife). But it is easy to make friends with a dog--all they require is a belly rub and a ball, maybe a chew toy. To me, cats seem indifferent, and you have to make a lot of effort to win their love. Dogs, on the other hand, love you immediately and enthusiastically. *shrug*

corycaleb said...

I think you hit the cat person description dead on! I have always, and will always, be a cat person - though I do love my doggie too (I think she wormed her way into my heart because she is so catlike!). I happen to like the independent, sometimes standoffish attitude of a cat - as long as they let me cuddle them sometimes.

Dross said...

Cat person here. Bigtime. I too am astonished at the accuracy of your anecdotal observations.

At the risk of seriously infuriating dog people, I'll admit to having always liked what radical economist Thorstein Veblen had to say on the subject. This isn't verbatim, but not too far off.

Bourgeois types own dogs. Lap dogs that they hand-feed pieces of quince and grade AAA steak nibbles. Bitsy Chihuahua wouldn't last 10 minutes on her own outside the Prada carry-bag she rides in.

The working class own cats. Alley cats that scrap and hustle for every meal and that can get along perfectly well without the dinner leftovers.

I won't point out the obvious parallels Veblen made to the relative merits of the pet owners. In my defense, I don't think his observations were the least accurate. Veblen was nothing if not abrasive, and a burr under the economist's saddle - easily enough dismissed by the lassiez faire crowd. But I found it good for a laugh, as well as Dr. Winrich did.