A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
As I’ve said many times, I’m totally pissed that I’m never going to be able to view my time as history. You see, in the future, we’re going to know so much more about ourselves and our world that it’ll be as if somebody turned on the lights. I’m not just talking about technology, either, or science. I’m talking about real discoveries. Things like why there are always at least three lines at the DMV but the one we want is always the longest. Or why all the really cool people are always at another table at a wedding and we’re stuck with somebody’s deadbeat aunt. Or how come we can never think of that witty retort until after the jerk with the attitude has left the building? This is important information, and eventually, we’re going to know this stuff.
For example, we’re going to understand why cats hate us and dogs are the perfect pet. I’ve got nothing against cats, BTW. One of my favourite pets ever was a cat: Diega, who’s now in the witness protection program. (It’s a long story for another time.) But, let’s be honest: cats are adorable on Facebook, but try living with one. Even dedicated cat people have some bloodcurdling tales to tell – mutilated mice in the bathtub during the in-law sleepover; slimy hairballs, coughed up on the boss’s cashmere lap; and deep childhood scars from “kitty has pins in her toes.” Sound familiar? Dog people never talk like that. You never hear horror stories from a dog person. And no complaints. They never say, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Fluffy just won’t eat anything but imported French dog food.” Dogs will eat anything. They eat bones and crap that nobody else can even look at. A dog’s motto is “Go to the bowl: good things happen.” Meanwhile, a cat will turn up its nose at free range $25.00 per lb hand ground salmon. Then, not an hour later, it will go out in the alley and kill a totally scabby, wantonly diseased sewer rat and drag it home as snacks for the whole family.
But that’s the difference between dogs and cats, isn’t it? Dogs are straight-ahead, and cats are devious. If a dog’s angry with you, he chews your shoes. If a cat’s mad at you, you’re in trouble. A cat will wait for two or three weeks — until the night before you have the presentation of your life happening at 8:00 a.m. sharp. That’s the night — all night — that it’ll have outrageous screaming sex, right outside your bedroom window, show up five minutes before you have to leave and shed all over your perfect black dress. That’s not cute; that’s malicious!
Personally, I think cats hate us because they missed the first 50,000 years on the domestication train.
Way back, at the dawn of evolution, when humans ran in packs, dogs did, too. We must have encountered each other somewhere along the trail. Humans probably thought, “Those guys aren’t very good to eat, and they’re really difficult to kill. So let’s leave them alone unless we’re desperate.” Dogs probably thought, “Those guys have puny little teeth, no fur, and they can’t hear or smell worth a damn. There’s no way they’re gonna survive. Let’s hang around until they can’t keep up with their pack, and eat ‘em.” Over the course of hundreds of generations, the two species got used to each other. Humans discovered that dogs were really good at finding food. All hunters had to do was follow the pack to get to the good stuff. Dogs, on the other hand, figured out that even though humans were pretty much useless, in close, they were kick-ass dangerous and could bring down the big boys like mastodons. All a smart dog had to do was bark and snarl and keep the prey at bay until the humans got in there with their pointy sticks. Then it was Happy Meals™ for everybody. Plus humans had fire, which, thumbless, a dog could never master. But fire, under control was just the ticket for a frosty canine on a cold winter night. Meanwhile, as dogs crept closer to the fire, humans found that, after dark, with their superior smell and hearing, dogs were the perfect burglar alarm. It made sense to let them cuddle up to the warmth if they wanted to. Over the course of a couple of hundred more generations, humans and dogs became inseparable. They lived together, hunted together, their kids played together and they all ate the same food. So it was only natural dogs and humans became BFFs*.
Cats, Johnny-come-latelies to domestication, have never really gotten over the special relationship humans have with dogs. They see it as an insult to their self-diagnosed superiority. Remember, cats didn’t start hanging with humans until the Egyptians turned them into gods for killing rats. That little theological faux pas went directly to the feline ego and has been stuck there ever since. These days, cats still think they’re gods almighty, and being cats, they want the lion’s share of human attention. When they don’t get it, they go looking for revenge.
Of course, this is only my theory — which I’m never going to be able to prove. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be around when humans and dogs develop two-way communication and we humans can finally just ask dogs, “What the hell’s wrong with cats, anyway?
*(Yes, I know, way back when, humans ate dogs. In some parts of the world they still do. But we’re talking millions of people over thousands of years, and dogs are intelligent enough to overlook the occasional act of barbarism.)