“I’m just not a cat person.” Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. Someone will say they don’t like cats because cats are too independent, or can’t be taken for a run like their canine companion, or can’t play fetch. Oh, but wait – they can play fetch! Maybe not exactly like a dog, but yes, cats can be trained to fetch small objects, or to do any number of other tricks. Don’t like having a litter box in your home? Many cats can even be trained to use the toilet. Ah, but, will they flush? Yes, some will actually do that too! And, yes, I will agree, cats are different than dogs. But, why would we want them to be the same anyway? Wouldn’t it be better to celebrate their differences and enjoy each species for what they are, and the varying kinds of companionship that they offer? What I would really wish for is to be able to break through people’s preconceived opinions regarding cats, especially those who say they don’t like cats but have never actually taken the time to get to know any of these marvelous creatures.
No, I’m not the crazy cat lady. I am an equal opportunity pet adopter, and I currently have both cats and dogs in my home. I didn’t grow up owning cats, although I would have liked to. So, now that the choice is solely mine, I live in a multiple-cat household; currently owning 3 cats, and previously owning as many as 5 at one time. Making up for lost time, ya know? And, just like dogs, each is unique in his or her own way, and each one breaks down all of the myths and negative comments regarding cats that I have ever heard.
Some say they are opposed to owning cats because they believe cats are cold and aloof, or unaffectionate. Well, I’m here to tell ya, although I can’t speak to the personality of every single cat out there, my experience with my kitty companions has been just the opposite. One of my cats, who, fortunately for me, lived to be 19 years old, would come bounding onto my lap whenever and wherever I would sit down. He would happily share his real estate with any of the other cats if they so desired, but inevitably some would just have to settle for a close proximity whenever adequate lap space was not available. Still, one cat (now 13) has never once ventured onto my lap nor has he ever wanted to be picked up and held. But, he will lie beside me on the couch and relish in being pet for as long as I will pet him. And that’s OK, because in his own way he still enjoys “sharin’ the love”.
Like dogs, cats do require time and maintenance. Cats are certainly willing to entertain themselves with a toy, but they much prefer their play involve human interaction too. All, especially those with long hair, need to be brushed regularly to avoid matting. And, even if items for scratching are provided, their nails will need to be trimmed. It is also vitally important to clean their litter box every single day. Oftentimes, the reason that a cat will begin to eliminate outside of its litter box is because the box is not being kept clean. Essentially, cats are very clean animals, and just so as long as you provide them with a clean and easily accessible litter box it is unlikely that they will eliminate in inappropriate locations, unless there is something medically wrong. So, if you have a cat that is eliminating outside the litter box it is important that you take him or her to the vet immediately to rule out anything medical.
Cats aren’t perfect, but neither are dogs, and as responsible pet owners we must learn to make adjustments in our lives, and work to train them to be appropriate housemates. So, you think a cat won’t obey you? Won’t come when called? Does your dog always come when called? Yes? Well, good for you! I wish mine always did! But, that’s another story. With repetition, all of my cats have learned their names, and yes, yours can too! Just like training a dog, if you call your cat’s name and immediately praise him/her with a treat when he/she comes, it probably won’t be long until your cat comes running over to you whenever it is called. Well, maybe not every time. Will this work for all cats? Probably not, but my experience does show that with some cats it is possible. As with any behavior, almost anything can be modified with consistency and reward. I also taught one of my cats to sit on command just to prove that it could be done. He’s quite a chow hound, or rather chow kitty, so it wasn’t exactly a daunting challenge to entice him to sit for a treat.
Although I can try to impress upon you all of the wonderful things I have learned about cats from sharing my life with them over the years, at the end of the day, people do have their preferences, and we should recognize that a cat is not going to be the right companion pet for everyone, just as a dog is not going to be right for everyone either. I can respect that, although I would encourage anyone who has never owned a cat to take some time and just get to know a few of these amazing animals. Whether it’s visiting a friend’s home who has a cat(s) or visiting Wayside’s Cat Adoption area, I would invite you to open your mind to the possibilities, and you just might discover that you are a “cat person” after all.
Written by Karen Brown
Lead Development Associate at Wayside Waifs