“These cats are getting on my nerves,” Mama stated the other day.
Mama has long been a one-cat kind of gal, only letting one feline at a time into her heart and disavowing all others.
Or as she puts it, she tolerates them.
“Mama, you get frustrated with them and cats sense that. You have to show cats respect.”
She gave me a little chirp of disagreement.
“They aren’t like dogs, who tend to be forgiving and accepting. You have to build that trust with a cat, and if you lose it for one second, you’re back at square one.”
Mama thinks the cats need to be thankful that she feeds them and scoops their boxes. She shouldn’t have to love on them and worry about building a relationship with them of any kind. “I let them live,” she said.
“That’s not good enough,” I began. “Haven’t you heard the old joke? Put your spouse and your dog in the trunk of your car, drive around for a few hours, then open it back up. The dog would be happy to see you and your spouse would be ready to hurt you.”
“So what would a cat do?” Mama asked.
“The cat would have taken you out before you could pick it up.”
Mama thought about this for a second, and decided I was probably right.
Of course I was right. Cats are usually pretty savvy when it comes to reading someone’s intentions. And even those of us with the best of intentions may not be trusted if the cat’s had some bad experiences in one of their nine lives.
I’ve watched Jackie, one of my uncle’s outdoor kitties, observe my actions closely as I worked on fixing her and the other ferals some shelter in the garage. She watched me from afar, trying to size up my actions and what I was doing.
When I caught her checking it out, I told her I was just trying to keep them safe and warm, and she seemed to understand. Not enough to the point she was going to let me touch her though. She’s been there for 16 years and I’ve never petted her, so she is slow to trust, even with a certified cat lady like myself.
She knows I’ve always done things for her and the other kitties, but the only human she’s ever trusted is my uncle Bobby.
Which made me wonder how dogs can be so full of love and trust at times.
There’s been times when Doodle’s trust has been betrayed and she’s been given a bath instead of the cuddles and adoration she expected.
Punk’s had attempts of nail trimmings launched against her to her great dismay.
Mia’s been promised treats she hasn’t received. Yet, the pups still trust and still love, earnestly and sincerely.
Not so sure how any of this would go with Sexy Frank; I’m smart enough to know better than to try to find out.
The girls may still love us unconditionally but the feline would probably plot and execute a plan for our demise successfully. The formerly feral mini-panther has a pretty good memory and seems to have a solid grasp on the human language.
But, my sweet girls can be tricked with the tone of a voice or the promise of a treat, which is surprising because they seem to have memories about certain things. Car rides, in particular. You’d think being tricked about a treat would be one of them, but perhaps the sheer possibility overrides the negative reinforcement of the past.
Maybe that’s why dogs are happier than people. They take things at face value and don’t question anyone’s motives or intent — they just live in the present moment, accepting, free of harsh judgment and condemnation.
Even when they have little fusses between them, they tend to get over them quickly and forgive and forget.
Doodle has been quite a twerp at times with Pumpkin over food, and the silliest of things too — a crumb of apple bread that fell on the floor. Punk forgave her and moved on quickly after the transgression, even sharing her blanket with the pittie-mix soon afterwards.
People seldom possess that kind of grace or the ability to just live — and love — in the moment.
“I think animals show more intelligence and compassion than some people,” I tell Mama. “At least mine do.”
She agreed — to a degree. She still wasn’t sure about those cats, saying some were neurotic as well as judgemental. She wasn’t too sure about some of their smarts, either.
I wonder what it would be like to take a dog’s approach for a change of pace. To be excited when those around me are, and to just be focused in the now, full of love and trust.
I try to think about how it would feel, then realize it would never work.
I’m more like a cat than I care to admit.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.