I hate cats. With all my furry being, I hate cats. They don’t have anything on dogs – dogs run, and jump, and play, and do all the things that make their masters smile and laugh. Those who own dogs know that they are loved; our wagging tails, our bright, begging eyes, our infectious running are hugs tips that we enjoy their company right back. We love our masters, and they love us right back.
But cats? Cats couldn’t care less. They seem to specialize in the fine art of exhibiting boredom. All they do is sit around and look bored at their masters while pooping in a box. When a cat is excited, that’s cause for concern – that means scratching, biting, yowling, and all the things that leave furniture and skin a bleeding, torn mess. The only people who willingly adopt cats are those with space issues; they don’t want to run or play, but just know that there’s another set of eyes looking at them they don’t have to work to keep. This is the essence of cat ownership.
Before you think me a brutish pitbull, you have to understand where I’m coming from, and why I feel I earned the privilege to say these mean things about cats. I did not have the best of childhoods – growing up in the alleyways and streets of a rundown neighborhood can make a pitbull like me a bit entitled. I earned my way to the top, scrapping with other feral dogs (and cats) over food, and doing my best to find shelter at night when the rain came. It wasn’t until I met Lisa, my master, that I truly understood and appreciated what it was like to have a home.
Lisa was fantastic. From the day she found me, shivering and cold on her street, Lisa has been there for me – attentive, caring, loving, willing to play, everything I could hope for in a master. We were each other’s world, just her and me – walking and playing, not a care in the world. It was just the way I liked it.
“Asia!” I hear Lisa call.
I bound up the steps from my doggy bed to the living room, where I hear that warm voice and that smiling face. Yes, I thought and said with my eyes, are we walking now? Getting a treat? What?
Words could not describe the indignation I felt when I saw Lisa, smiling and beaming, holding what had to be a cat in her arms as she looked at me. What was she doing?, I thought. Didn’t she know that she already had a pet, and it was me? What was Lisa going to do with this fat, lazy cat in her arms? It looked so lazy, its large fatty rolls were spilling over Lisa’s spindly arms. I couldn’t believe it when Lisa bent down to let the cat go right in front of me – still smiling, as if she thought this was a good idea somehow. She must have lost her mind, and I would have to deal with the consequences.
I looked the cat up and down – it was a fat, stubborn old thing, with lazy, squinty eyes and a perpetually bored expression on its face. Just looking at it, I knew that it would be trouble.
“Asia, this is Kiwi,” said Lisa. Oh great, Kiwi. Now I have to call it something. I looked up at Lisa inquisitively, as if to ask her whether or not this was a joke. Lisa’s earnest smile told me otherwise. Understanding my fate, I looked around at all the furniture in the living room – the couch, the chairs, the coffee table – all the places I would lose sole ownership of. I would have to share the affections of Lisa with Kiwi, and I knew I wasn’t going to like it.
The first few days were the hardest – Kiwi quickly found her own spot on the windowsill and was content to stay up there. I should have been fine with that (it’s not like I use the windowsill), but it still dug at me. This was my house, my Lisa, and I wasn’t about to give it all up just to fit some lazy fat cat in Lisa’s life. I started to take it personally, thinking that I had done something wrong, or that I wasn’t good enough for Lisa. There was part of me that vowed to correct this, but I soon realized that it would do no good – Kiwi was here to stay.
Lisa started to try and incorporate both of us in our shared time together. I was very resistant to this idea; I used to sit on Lisa’s lap by myself when she watched television; now, both Kiwi and myself would sit on either side of her during this same routine. It was as if we’d both lost – that lap stayed empty, but for our heads occupying one thigh. Of course, this meant a lot of quality staredown time with Kiwi, which I was starting to relish. I thought that, if I intimidated Kiwi enough, she would back down and have the dignity to run away and never come back. However, Kiwi remained steadfast, her gaze never once leaving mine during these nightly staredown contests.
The only real solace I got was during Lisa’s walks – Lisa, being smart enough to know that cats didn’t give a hump about going outside, graciously left Kiwi to her own devices inside the home as I went outside with Lisa. The walks were always great with her; she took me to the nicest parks, full of grass and trees and benches. So much green and brown to look at, and the sun was always bright. Kiwi was missing out, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Another great part of the walk was encountering the neighborhood dogs – Rusty, Ginger and Potluck, all three owned by this rich old lady who lived four houses down. They often went to the park at the same time as Lisa, and so the four of us got a lot of face time during the weekends.
Being my closest friends, I would often complain about Kiwi to them; Ginger was always understanding, but Rusty and Potluck would tease me about it, calling me a whiner and deriding me on not being able to handle a cat. They even accused me of secretly liking the cat, and hiding the fact that I was buddy-buddy with such a loathsome creature. I was offended; what was I supposed to do, kill Kiwi? That wouldn’t make me feel better, and Lisa would just throw me out too. Rusty and Potluck, however, being of tougher stock than I (though I wouldn’t say that to their face) took no end of pleasure in reminding me of that fact, and detailing the various and clever ways they would scare off Kiwi. I eventually got fed up with it, and Kiwi. By the time Lisa took me back to the house, I resolved to have it out with the cat, and show her who was Lisa’s real pet.
My paws trampled up the stairs with renewed confidence as I bound up to the living room in time for Lisa’s favorite TV show. As the familiar strings of the opening music rang through the living room, I bound in, ready for a fight, to show my superiority –
It took me by surprise. I hadn’t seen Lisa without Kiwi on her lap during TV time since the day she arrived. It confused me, and all that bravado I’d built up deflated from my lungs. I was equal parts victorious and disappointed, with a tinge of confusion. What had prompted Kiwi to change her ways? Was it my intimidating manner? Had she seen it coming and just wanted to avoid trouble? Looking up at Kiwi, she shot me a look back, but there was something else in her eyes this time. It was a strange friendliness, an understanding submission that told me she was doing this for me. In our time together, she had intuited how much Lisa’s TV time meant to me, and did not wish for there to be a rift between us any longer. Realizing that both of us were here to stay had changed her, and me to an extent – we both understood that we must coexist with each other.
As I sat on Lisa’s lap, I shot another look back at Kiwi, who returned it with an understanding glare. I attempted another staring contest, as we always did, which she still matched with equal veracity. She clearly wasn’t backing down on some things; she realized, as it was clear I needed to, that compromise was key to this relationship. Given my exhausting day , between the walk and the plotting, it did not take long for me to drift off on Lisa’s lap, but one final thought crept through my mind before sleep overtook me with my master:
That cat’s not half bad.
The next few weeks saw a surprising reversal of many of my opinions about cats. Noticing Kiwi’s behavior and spending more time (voluntarily) with her, I learned the value of having a cat around. Sure, dogs were fun, but a mite unpredictable; you never knew what we were doing next. What’s more, cats were cleaner; they just tidied up after themselves and pooped in boxes. I learned to accept that about them, and even respect it in Kiwi. She didn’t run around and play like I did, but it was nice to know that, when I finally got tired of running and scampering around the house, Kiwi would be stationary, on her windowsill, same as ever.
I grew to respect Kiwi, and we learned a lot of things about each other. I taught Kiwi the pleasure of play, as evidenced when I rolled a ball of yarn over to her one day. I hadn’t ever seen a dog carry half the ferocity with which she attacked that thing; she treated it like it was going to kill her if she slowed down. On the flip side, Kiwi taught me the virtue of just…sitting, and lazing around. Sure, I liked the occasional nap, but that was after I was tired from a long day of causing trouble. With Kiwi, I learned how nice it is to sit still for awhile and just let the world wash over you. It was quite fun getting to know Kiwi a little bit better, and I knew I would not regret the friendship that we were developing – though I would have to defend it.
It was about two months after the lap incident; Lisa was walking me back from a mildly disappointing walk in the park. Since I’d gotten to know Kiwi, I had not enjoyed the walks as much as I used to. Sure, they were still fun, and it was great to get out., but I found that I missed Kiwi, and wished she were the type to try the outdoors. Lisa wouldn’t have it, though, I knew; there was too much danger a domesticated cat could get into out in the wild. Also, Rusty and Potluck were still teasing me about her, moreso because I had let up on my teasing of Kiwi. They thought I’d gotten soft, which I resented and accepted at the same time. Wasn’t anything wrong with softening up a little bit; I still had bite, it just made me a more well-rounded dog.
Lisa and I were just about to the house when I saw a familiar sight; Rusty and Potluck fighting in the yard across the street, with Ginger looking on in embarrassment. However, they were not barking at each other this time; instead, a lone cat in the distance, scared and frozen, was but a couple feet from them. As Lisa and I picked up the pace, I recognized the cat by its familiar girth and brown stripes – it was Kiwi.
A million questions went through my mind, including how Kiwi got outside, what she had done to provoke the other dogs, and many more. As Lisa yelled at the dogs to “Stay! Down!” in between shouts for the old women who owned them, I confronted Rusty and Potluck, telling them to leave her alone.
“What is it, Asia, don’t have the heart anymore? She’s just a cat, I know you wanna get rid of her!” growled Potluck.
“Forget it Potluck, Asia’s gotten soft! She likes the widdle kitties now, don’t you?” teased Rusty.
“Shut up, you guys!” I protested. I was getting sick of their antics anyway – this was the last straw. “Leave Kiwi alone, she’s my friend, and I’m tired of you never letting up! Just stop it!”
The barking stopped, more out of indignation and annoyance than a genuine respect for my wishes. It was clear at that moment that they didn’t really respect me as friends; I was a punching bag for them, the dog they laughed at and teased. I looked over at Ginger, who returned a sympathetic, understanding look. I knew I wouldn’t see her again; Lisa would change walking times for this. It was for the best though; I couldn’t stand Rusty and Potluck anymore.
With Lisa retrieving Kiwi and myself, we returned home. I learned later from Kiwi that she had climbed out the open window when Lisa left it up to let the breeze in that afternoon; she appreciated how many times I had rested with her, so she thought she would try exploring to see how it suited her. Of course, with that experience, she never did it again, opting to maintain her vigil on the windowsill while leaving the reckless exploring to me. I didn’t mind; I liked having Kiwi around for exactly what she was – a cat.