Masters and Companions

Some people really hate cats. I’ve met plenty of them, and I feel like over the years I’ve sort of pinged the personality differences between people who really don’t like cats and people who are well-suited to their companionship. I, for one, am a cat person.

I’m really over generalizing here, but people who tend to like dogs more are typically dominant people. They really hate that cats have independence, that they’re stubborn, and that they don’t obey direct commands. (That is not to say you can’t train a cat, but it’s a more subtle art than training a dog.) Those who firmly dislike cats find qualities in a dog appealing: they’re obedient, they tend to view their owners as the most important thing ever, they have a less strong sense of will, and their personalities can be controlled to develop a certain way in puppy-hood.

Some people are better masters of dogs than companions of cats.

When you have cats, you sort of depend on them liking you in order to maintain a good relationship. It seems like having cats is more of a give-and-take interaction, whereas dogs require less take for their give. Obviously a dog will like you more if you dote on it, but it doesn’t demand respect the way a cat does. You can’t just do whatever you want to a cat and expect it to roll over and loll its tongue at you.

So I’ve pegged cat people as those who want to invest in a mutual relationship, rather than having an animal that will do what you want.

That is not to say that having a dog is mutually exclusive to having companionship with that animal, I’m merely asserting that it requires less effort on the part of the human to maintain that companionship. Something my husband likes to say is that you can piss off a dog and it’ll be back to see you in ten minutes, while a cat will tell you to fuck off for a few hours. The fact that my cats are almost like humans in that they are independent and have standards for the way you treat them makes it much easier for me to have a relationship with them.

I guess I sort of view dogs as pliant and cats as resistant. The resistant quality of cats, I think, assists in my ability to interact with other human beings because my cats demand a level of respect from me, or they won’t allow me their attention.

This is where my thought process diverges a bit: I was thinking about these personality differences between the humans who prefer dogs over cats, and I had a somewhat disturbing revelation about how those people would parent.

If it’s true that dog people prefer the obedience of their animals and cat people prefer the mutuality of their animals, couldn’t that poorly transfer to how people parent? If a dog person demands utter obedience from their animals, they may be likely to treat their children the same way, especially while their children are still young and less “people”ish.

On the other hand, if a cat person depends on the mutuality of their relationship, they may be more likely to treat their young children in a way that demands mutual respect as well, rather than having the expectation of total obedience.

This is just some random thoughts, and I’m not asserting that dog people are Bad People or that they will end up as Bad Parents because this is just me pointing out observations about the dog people I have met. And obviously there are reasons beyond personality differences for one to prefer one animal over the other, such as allergies, ability to care for the animals, etc. Another interesting addendum is that most of the people I’ve met via the atheist movement have cats and find their companionship agreeable. Perhaps there’s another level of this where intelligent people prefer intelligent animals, while an average person would hate owning an animal whose intelligence challenges theirs.

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