Animal Husbandry:
or
Why the family has a cat, but I don’t
.


My family has a cat. I’ll repeat that. My FAMILY has a cat. I don’t. I have a dog. We live in a house where the phrase “Your cat wants out.” and “Your cat left enough hair on my black pants to make another cat.” are constant parts of my vocabulary. I don’t like the cat. I love my dog. I don’t like the cat, and I think I’ve finally figured out why.

Before I explain my completely natural reaction to cats, I’ll give you a bit of history of “the family’s cat”. It is a huge 17 lb. mass of flab and perpetually dislodging fur. Whenever I take my dog to the vet. There is a chart on the wall which describes the different stages of fitness in cats. They have a perfect picture of my family’s cat under the label “obese”. Picking this cat up, requires one of those strap-on black back supports that the guys wear at Wal-Mart. It also requires a lot of dexterity, because the weight seems to shift to the unsupported part of the cat like wet cement in a pillow case. Therefore, I seldom try to move the cat. On those occasions when I feel it is absolutely necessary, I have found that one of those fold-up rolling suitcase carriers and the right amount of disparaging comments will get the job done.

We “inherited” the cat from a neighbor across the street who left late one night just ahead of some lawyers and the sheriff. With it’s owner gone, the cat decided that our back porch was the place to spend it’s days looking sorrowful and hungry. My admonitions to the wife and kids of “Don’t feed that cat, because we’ll never get rid of it.” went ignored. To pretend that I still had some authority in the family, (after we had started adding cat food to our grocery list each month), I laid down the law. “Well, you can feed it, but that cat never comes in the house.” A very cold wintery night and the looks from three females which said, “Come on, prove to us that all men are uncaring beasts.” got the cat into the house. It’s tough having no control over your own house. I don’t remember Ward Cleaver having this much trouble.

Now, you thought I was joking about the size of the cat, but I wasn’t. The family named the cat “Miss Kitty”, (with apologies to “Gunsmoke’s” Amanda Blake). My wife was sure that the cat was pregnant, (just what I wanted, more cats), because it’s belly barely cleared the ground on those rare occasions when it actually walked. A trip to the vet, a quick examination, and references to the fat cat chart on his wall, and “Miss Kitty” came home as “Mr. Kitty”. The family was embarrassed. I was relieved.

In the years that we have had Mr. Kitty, I have found no reasons to develop any form of affection for the animal. It’s life consists of 5 activities. 1. It sleeps. 2. It wants to be fed and given water upon demand. 3. It wants to be petted or scratched upon demand. 4. It wants to be let outside anytime it is not eating or sleeping. 5. Late at night, it wants back in the house to eat and sleep some more. None of these five activities “give” anything to any member of the family. They all require something “from” the family.

The cat doesn’t want to play with someone whenever they enter the room, as my dog does. But, it does require that it be petted or scratched whenever it is in the mood. It doesn’t come up and sit on the couch with one of the family if called, as my dog does. But, it does come up and sit on top of someone, if it decides that person is warmer than it’s previous location. (And I am, quite honestly, offended by being treated as a source of heat.) It doesn’t ask to be let out, as my dog does. It demands to be let out whenever it feels like it. (Of course, it will walk through everyone else in the house and come back into my office to verbally demand that I be the one that lets it out.) It doesn’t jump for joy when food is put in it’s dish, as my dog does. It actually will not eat the food unless it is in a proper pile within that dish. (Do you know how humiliating it is to have to reach into a cat dish and rearrange cat food until it conforms to the cat’s aesthetic standards?) And, it doesn’t bound in or out of the door when it is opened for it, as my dog does. It will stand and stare . . . and stare . . . and stare out the door until you are about to reach for the fireplace poker, and then it decides to slowly majestically make an exit. Of course, it does the reverse of this when you open the door to let it in. It will look inside the house, as if to make sure all the servants have lined up for it’s entrance, and then look at me, and then back into the house, and then at me, and then back into the house, and just as I’m wondering where I put the BB gun, it will slowly majestically grace the castle with it’s entrance. Yes, this cat brings the sunshine of joy into each of my days!

Now, to get to the point of this whole article. I have been bewildered that the three females in my house love this cat, and that I often find myself wondering if spraying it with three coats of shellac would finally prevent it from shedding all over my clothes. I have put quite a bit of thought into the whole matter. I have wondered why cats are often considered the pets of females more than they are of males. I have been totally confused at the way females talk about their cats and how emotionally connected they seem to be to them. I have tried to figure out what void they fill in the lives of females. In this process, I came upon an amazing revelation. I’m not kidding. It is an amazing revelation! It’s on the level of the discovery of radium, or of water on Mars, or the fact that silly putty will pick up the pictures from newspaper comics. This is BIG stuff! Unfortunately, even with the revelation, I don’t understand WHY it exists. But, I will share this revelation with you. Maybe you can figure out the “why”.

Remember the five things that my cat does? 1. It sleeps. 2. It wants to be fed and given water upon demand. 3. It wants to be petted or scratched upon demand. 4. It wants to be let outside anytime it is not eating or sleeping. 5. Late at night, it wants back in the house to eat and sleep some more. Well, what if I restated those five traits this way. 1. Likes to take naps whenever the chance arises. 2. Wants to have meals prepared and beverages provided whenever the need arises. 3. Wants to be shown affection upon request. 4. Wants to leave the house and run around with other guys when not eating or sleeping. 5. Wants to come home whenever he feels like it and do some more of #1. through #3. Sound like a husband? I think so. I think it sounds like the husband that most wives spend all of their lives reforming. I think that at least thirty eight seconds after the preacher says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”, the wife begins a campaign to change her husband from being a male that wants or expects those five things. Aren’t those the traits of selfishness that wives are driven to correct in the human male in order to make him civilized, (or is the correct word domesticated)?

Let’s check and see.

Is there anything less harmful than a man taking a nap? Yet, doesn’t the sight of a husband snoring in the recliner bring instant recollection to the wife of all the chores that he should be doing instead, like rewiring the house? Has there ever been a wife who walked by her snoring husband spread-eagled on the couch with his belly button peaking out beneath his t-shirt who thought, “Isn’t he precious.”?

How about that desire to have meals and beverages provided as needed? Hasn’t our whole culture undergone a revolution in the past several decades over the idea that the wife’s job is to cook meals for her husband, or bring him a beverage from the kitchen whenever he’s finished the one in his hand. Nothing will get a heavy object thrown at you faster than walking in the door and saying, “Where’s my dinner?” Today’s husband better be in that kitchen grating the Parmesan while the pasta’s boiling, after he has set the table, of course.

As for affection upon demand, aren’t the book stores filled with marital relationship books explaining how ludicrous it is for a husband to expect affection just because he happens to want affection when he wants affection. Why, the money spent yearly at marriage seminars to deprogram this idea from husbands would support several Central American countries.

Now, consider the flawed thinking of going out to have fun with friends at night. Isn’t that the very first lesson a husband learns after the wedding? Isn’t it clearly explained to him that just because he has enjoyed life for years is no reason to think that he can continue do so? Of course, should he actually ignore instructions, and go out with the guys anyway, doesn’t he pay dearly for every second that he comes home AFTER his wife expects him to be home?

Let’s get real here. Aren’t those five things major flaws that every wife has either corrected in her husband or seeks family therapy to help in getting them corrected? Don’t each of us husbands feel guilty if we commit one of those offenses? Don’t we then expect the “neanderthal” label to be tattooed across our forehead? Wouldn’t most husbands and all wives label a husband who did those five things regularly a bad husband?

Then why do women hate it in men and love it in their cat? Why are the very things that drive them crazy about men the exact things that endear them to their cats? I am totally bewildered by this.

(Now, I will acknowledge the fact here that there are many of the things we guys like about our dogs, like the fact that they worship us as gods, which would be at the top of our list of things we’d like in a prospective wife. But, I’ll save that for a future article.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not justifying that a man should be able to do the things that a cat does. I’m sure civilization would crumble if men were allowed to do what comes naturally to them. I keenly aware of the fact that without wives to point us down the correct paths, men would still be squatting over freshly killed animals making disgusting noises and not using any of the correct eating utensils. I’m just pointing out that the very things that make a cat adorable to females are the exact same things that make men offensive to them. I think this is a very odd double standard. And, I’m sure I will never totally figure it out.

Now, to bring this piece to an end and connect it to the title. After I came upon this bad husband/good cat revelation, I realized why I don’t like the family’s cat. I’m jealous. I just don’t think that it is fair that he gets to be the husband that I want to be.

jack dow

2000

 


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