Posted by: terrapraeta | December 3, 2009

More Dogs and Cats


One, two, three, four, five against one
Five, five, against one.
Said one, two, three, four, five against one
Five, five…five, five…five against one.

Torture from you to me
Abducted from the street…

I’d rather be…
I’d rather be with…
I’d rather be with an animal.

Pearl Jam, Animal

I have always had animals in my life. Ok, not always, but usually. I had a toy poodle from the time I was six until I was twenty one. She wasn’t the best pet for a youngster… in fact, she generally wanted nothing to do with me until I was in my teens. (My mother chose the pet to get me based on her need to not have animal hair in the house rather than based upon what breed would make a good pet for a child. Typical) But she was with me for a long time and definitely shaped my interactions with animals. For instance, because she was not a kid-dog, I learned to respect her, more than I might otherwise.

As a teenager and young adult, I had a few cats in my life as well. They were always feral cats, in fact. In Wisconsin, everybody knew that if you stumbled upon a litter of barn cats, the mother would not return if there was “people smell” about them. Thinking about it now, I have no idea if this is actually true. But then, it meant that those litters would be taken in and given away to whomever would take them. Over time, I ended up with two, very beautiful and very wild calicos.

Partially, they stayed “wild” because I only kept outdoor cats. They would have somewhere they could go to be warm, find food, take shelter in general, but otherwise they were allowed to range free. At the same time, my sister had a maine coone. I more beautiful and unusual cat I have never know. He was all cat, but at the same time, part of me wants to say that his personality had a bit of the canine. They were my friends above all, and my calicos, well, if they didn’t want anything to do with most people, that was fine by me.

I had a few different cats in and out of my house during the years of my pregnancy and my son’s early childhood. But mostly we had no animals around at all. Then, one year, we got an iguana – my then-honey had expressed an interest in and knowledge of reptiles, especially iguanas, so I bought one for him one year. Turns out, he really didn’t know that much and so over time I became a semi-expert on their needs and behaviors. Fabulous animals. Unfortunately, by the time I really knew what I was doing, that first iguana I bought was not in the best of health. They have very specific dietary and environmental needs. Not being really on top of it, his health degenerated after a few years ad I wasn’t able to make it right.

That would have been the end of the story, only a friend of ours – one that did understand their needs, decided he couldn’t keep his iguana any longer. We talked, and now that I did know what I was getting into, we decided to take him in. We went to get him and our friend warned us that he wasn’t very friendly – he hadn’t been socialized enough and that was part of the reason he decided to get rid of him (not because he was mean, but because he didn’t have the time to care for him properly). He came out of his enclosure, climbed up on my shoulder and stayed there until we got home.

His name was Peter and he was awesome. He very quickly became part of our household. I built him an enclosure that was 6′ x 6′ x 4′, with heat and humidity equipment. I made him “iguana salad” with a rich assortment of vegies, enriched with iguana vitamins. Eventually, we got him a leash and halter so we could take him outside. One year, he even went on vacation with us. The kids at the beach went wild when we brought him out and I doubt there was anyone in the small Michigan town we were visiting that didn’t hear about him.

We had him for a few years, until I decided to get my son a dog. A golden. An animal specifically chosen for loving kids and people in general. She’s a great dog, still lives with my son and my ex. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the effect it would have on the iguana. Although they lived in separate areas of the house, the presence of a large predatory animal in the house created a lot of stress on the iguana. And because she caused him so much stress, I brought him out much less frequently. By the time the dog was a year old, Peter was gone. I swore then and there that I would never ever have another iguana in my life until and unless I lived in an environment that was conducive to their well being.

Now, as you all know, I have gotten another golden puppy. And I have this kitten that is staying with me. And I realize, for the first time clearly, that I really am not a cat person. I’m a dog person. Don’t get my wrong, I really do like cats, but I find that i have far more patience for annoying doggie behaviors than I do for annoying kitty behaviors. Certainly part of it is that I am used to outside cats, but that really just means that I am used to cats that come inside for snuggles and cuddles and go outside to play.

Last night, the cat kept snuggling up by my head, kneading my skull with her claws, licking at my neck…. I can’t say how many times she woke me up and I had to kick her off the bed because she wouldn’t stop. Now I know that these were affectionate behaviors…. I’m not mad at her, or anything, it’s just <irritating. Much like when Angel chews on me incessantly. But I’m not handling the irritation as well as I do with the dog. Conversely, I expected the dog would keep me up when we were camping back in October. But she was awesome, once I went to sleep, she went to sleep, or else went outside and ran around a bit. She might have stepped on me a few times, but that was the extent of her pestering.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore both of them and I like having them both around. But at the end of the day, I know one more thing about myself and my relations. So that’s all good, right?

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Responses

  1. I was a staunch dog person… and then I discovered cats. What a revelation! No work… all fun. 🙂

    Dogs smell. Cats don’t.
    Dogs must be washed. Cats wash themselves.
    Dogs can hurt other humans (I had German Shepherds…), even just by jumping up too hard. Cats ignore or snuzzle up to other humans.
    Dogs are apt to knock off a small glass with one sweep of their tail. Cats can pick their way among delicate items with ease.
    The list goes on…

    I still love dogs, but prefer to borrow for walks. Somehow their boisterous hyperactive energy just does not agree with me as a steady diet any more…

  2. I may love (other) animals, but I sure don’t want to sleep with ’em. I close out the cats nearly every night…

    —-

    cat v. dog disadvantage: radioactive whizz

    -Jim

  3. Radioactive whizz… wha…?

  4. Hey!

    Vera… I used to be the same way… but now after living with a puppy and a kitten simultaneously… well, its the cat that makes messes for me to clean up (stuff knocked over, dice and beads scattered across the floor etc) and its the dog that always wants to sit and cuddle… and like I said, when it comes to me sleeping, its the dog that respects my “space”. That’s why I’m realizing that I tend to “lean the other way”.

    Hey Jim 🙂 I always sleep with my animals (well… not the iguana), so long as I’m not, ummm… engaged in activities where I REALLY don;t want their participation 😉 But they have to respect the sleep, ya know? As long as they do, we’re all good. If not, well, then they gotta go!

    tp

  5. I think there’s a lot of difference between individual cats and dogs, as well. I’ve had cats that respected the sleeping space and cats that didn’t. Aloof dogs and friendly dogs. I think that the “cat people” vs “dog people” dichotomy disrepects the individualism of the animal.

    Also, I currently don’t keep pets because I don’t agree with keeping an animal locked up for my own amusement. If I lived someplace like terrapraeta I would consider having animal friends around because they would be free to roam and express their own nature.

    JimFive

  6. Hey Jim —

    Point taken…. there is a reason that I like golden retrievers so much… and even then, there are many different personalities… I spend a lot of time noting the difference between Angel and my other golden (living with my son). Likewise, when my cats were mostly feral, although they were each unique, it was that feral quality that I so enjoyed in our relationships.

    And to be fair, my poor Angel spends more time “locked up” than I would like… but I specifically determined to get a dog thinking about my future travels and intended destination… both of which will allow her a lot more freedom of movement and expression….

    tp


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