Most of us have heard the phrase ‘Dogs have owners, while cats have servants.’ I was thinking the other day about the kernel (perhaps even more) of truth therein. With that in mind, I decided to put on my reporter hat, grab my pen and paper (and some doggie and kitty treats as ‘payment’) and find some canines and felines to interview for their ‘fur’spective on the above statement (and life in general). These are their responses.
“I’m happy to eat just about whatever my human puts in my bowl . . . or near my bowl . . . or, heck, whatever falls on the floor that looks even remotely edible,” said one canine source, named Stan, who lives near Shelton City Hall. Other canine sources confirmed this. Some even went as far as saying that the concept of what humans consider ‘food’ is too narrow; shoes, for instance, often make a great snack, while pillows and fabric can ‘fill the void’ when nothing better is available. Timing is another thing . . . or, well, maybe it isn’t. All my canine sources agreed that anytime is a good time to eat. Acting finicky, or as if you aren’t hungry right now, appear to be alien concepts to most every dog I spoke with. A few did say that sometimes, just to keep their humans on their toes, they would reject a specific type of food offering . . . just to see if anything better would be forthcoming. They agreed that this ploy often worked. All agreed, however, that they really appreciated being fed by their humans. One admiring canine named Oscar stated, “My human is just the best hunter. He goes out and comes back with all kinds of meat and other edible goodies. I love it, love it, love it that he shares his bounty with me!” All agreed that eating is just the best thing ever!
“I only eat the diced chicken with the light gravy, not that dark, heavy stuff that company X makes,” said a local feline friend named Princess, “and it has to be at room temperature. If it’s been in the refrigerator, they better microwave it to warm it up, or I will let it sit until it does.” Other feline sources all seem to have their own favorite brands, flavors and serving preferences. “Feeding me is one of my human’s obligations,” said one kitty contact named Tinkerbelle, “I expect to be kept in the food to which I have become accustomed.” Most expressed annoyance that their humans did not immediately respond to requests for food. They agreed that the best tactic for gaining human compliance was loud meowing, while standing as close to the human as possible.
“I can sleep anywhere, anytime,” boasted one canine contact named Fred, a lanky hound mix from Huntington. “My humans even allow me to nap on the sofa!” Most agreed, however, that the absolute best place to sleep is on the human bed (preferably with the humans in it). “That way, you know where your pack is,” said Fred. Dog beds got cautious approval from a bare majority of canines, while opinions on beds in crates differed wildly. Some canines love spending time in their crate, or ‘den’, as they call it. Others feel confined by it and said they would prefer the sofa . . . or the human bed. All agreed that a good nap is just the best thing ever!
“I prefer to sleep in a high place, preferably on top of something soft,” stated Sadie, a pretty long-haired kitty who lives near Shelton Lakes. “This way, I can keep an eye on things. Not that I plan on doing anything about it if something does happen, but it’s nice to stay informed,” she continued. Some felines stated that human beds are good places to sleep, however, most of these were indifferent as to whether the humans joined them or not. A few said human laps were occasionally Okay for napping purposes, but only if the human obliged by providing petting services.
“I just adore my human and I am so grateful to her for allowing me to live with her. I try to show this in any way I can; wagging my tail, smiling, giving sloppy kisses, following her around, etc.,” says Gizmo a growly canine who lives near a Shelton park. “I will even do tricks if she asks me to . . . of course, food is a good motivator,” he admits. Most canines I spoke with shared Gizmo’s sentiments. Many also stated they feel their humans like being appreciated, so they try to accommodate them . . . and since this often results in pets or treats, it’s all good! All agreed that appreciation (and getting treats in return) is the best thing ever!
“I will occasionally catch a mouse or bird and leave it for my human,” said one kitty contact (who preferred to remain anonymous). “He thinks I do it as a sign of appreciation, which shows you how much he knows! What I am really trying to tell him is either (a) he is not meeting my food expectations, just look what what he has reduced me to – hunting for my own food, of all things! and/or (b) I don’t like mice or birds invading my space!” Many felines agreed that a well-placed purr was enough to keep their humans feeling appreciated. Of course, something for nothing isn’t part of the deal, so most felines stated they had their humans trained to provide a ‘return’ for the purr; pets, treats, food, etc.
Humans at Home
“I think of the time I spend at home without my human as ‘grey time’; it’s best spent sleeping,” said Ralph, a resident of Pine Rock. Most canines agreed that a house without a human just doesn’t quite feel like home. They all agreed on the importance of an enthusiastic welcome when their humans arrive home. “Humans need encouragement,” says Hal, a Peke mix from White Hills, “if we let them know how much we missed them each time they arrive home, then they will continue to come home.” All agreed that time spent at home with their humans is the best thing ever!
“Cats make a house a home,” says Sophie, a sleek Siamese from downtown Shelton, “humans know this, and that’s why they co-habit with us.” Most felines seemed ambivalent about the need for humans to actually be at home. “A human presence is nice, as there is then a chance of pets, or food . . . but it’s also nice when no one is home, as I can nap undisturbed,” said Hera, an elegant Himalayan from Huntington.
Step Brothers and Sisters
“My step-sister is a huge tabby cat,” said Waldo, a shy dog who lives in an apartment near the river, “at first, I wasn’t sure about her, as we don’t speak the same language, but once I learned to speak some ‘Cat’, I found that we got along much better.” Most dogs agreed having a feline brother or sister is, on the whole, a positive thing. “If you can’t have a human, or another dog, then a cat can make Okay company when no one else is home,” said Ralph. Some dogs even spoke of the advantages of cuddling up with another furry body for naptime. Others said that, when they tried this, all they got was a scratched nose from their feline sibling. Not everyone agreed that having a feline sibling was the best thing ever . . .
“Oscar, my canine brother, understands that I am in charge and that what I say goes,” said Hera, “so I’m fine with having him in my home.” The majority of felines agreed with Hera’s sibling statement. “He comes in useful as a pillow,” was another common feline refrain. Most agreed that the balance of the household could be disrupted by a confused canine companion, but believed the compensation of being the smartest of the furred siblings in said household usually makes up for it.
“My humans insist I do all my personal business outside,” said Hal. “I like to go on grass, but mulch is also good.” Most dogs agreed that, while they had preferred surfaces, and even areas, for outside business, anywhere outside would do in a pinch. “Everyone does it, so why feel embarrassed?” So said Ed, a terrier living in a two-family house downtown Shelton. “I mean, I don’t get why humans feel the need for privacy. My human won’t even let me keep him company in the bathroom,” groused Ed. Several dogs said their humans picked up their (dog)poop in little baggies, and then disposed of it in trashcans. The consensus was that this is because they are embarrassed about the whole pooping thing; probably for the same reason they don’t like company in the bathroom . . .
“I prefer a coarse-grained litter in my litterbox; at least three inches deep,” said Princess. Most cats expressed strong preferences related to their ‘relief station’, as they prefer to call it. Some like a deep litterbox, some a shallow one; some like clay litter, while others prefer the crystals. Most insist on privacy for their relief stations. “A litterbox placed in a human bathroom is fine,” said Fred, a huge tomcat, “but I prefer mine in the basement.” All agreed on the importance of clean litterbox. “I don’t care who cleans it, my human (by scooping) or my canine sibling (by munching), as long as it’s emptied regularly,” said Fred.
Many interviews (and several bags of treats) later, my conclusion is that the relationship between companion animals and their humans is often governed by the ‘fur’spective of the animal in question. Dogs and cats are different species, with different languages, customs, needs and desires. As long as we humans understand and accommodate these differences, our lives and those of our companion animals will be the richer for it.
It wouldn’t hurt to apply the same logic to differences between humans, either . . .
I leave you with some famous quotes on ‘fur’spective.
“If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.” — Alfred North Whitehead
“Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” ~ Mary Bly
“A house is not a home without a pet.” ~ Anonymous