24 November 2023

Cats versus dogs debate gets the fur flying but a cute kitty is the purr-fect pet, paws down

| Jen White
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Cat sitting in front of red flowers.

Who could resist such a cute kitty (apart from cat haters)? Photo: Jen White.

I once worked with a guy who hated cats with every fibre of his being.

Remember those tasteless “books” that used to do the rounds – ‘101 uses for a dead cat’ or something icky – well the Captain probably gleefully took the photos of said dead cats.

Other than his hatred of kitties, the Captain was a really, really nice guy. But whenever the word cat was mentioned, it would set him off like a firecracker. Like when he was sent out to cover the story about a heroic cat who saved its family from a house fire – he gagged all the way out the door.

He wasn’t a dog owner (then) but just didn’t believe there was a place in the world for cats.

That seems to be the way that society falls, you’re either a dog person or a cat person – and if you’re not a cat person, boy, you hate them with a vengeance.

Personally, I love both cats and dogs.

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Over the years, our family has always had an assortment of cats and dogs, including the Labrador puppy that accompanied us on a family trip around Australia and got car sick.

The first pet I can remember was a beautiful black dog (a Heinz variety I assume, knowing Mum) called Missy, who was sweet and very protective of me as a youngun.

When we lived on a farm, the cat, probably called Little Cat as all of our cats were, used to open my bedroom window to bring me presents of dead or dying mice, rats and the occasional rabbit. My sister still rolls her eyes at the memory of my screams waking the household and the cat looking at me with a hurt look in her eyes at my rejection.

As much as I would love to have a dog, I think I’ve been spoilt by a succession of cats who can look after themselves much more successfully than dogs, don’t need to be walked and can be trained to toilet in one place, i.e., the kitty litter tray.

I shudder at the thought of putting my hand in a plastic bag to pick up a warm dog poo, when I can just scoop out the offending kitty clump at arm’s length.

And the beauty of owning a cat is that we can go away for a long weekend, ask the lovely neighbours to open the garage door and feed her and we know she will be independent enough to cope without us.

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We’ve owned at least one cat, sometimes two at a time, for the past 30 or so years.

Anyone who tries to say cats don’t have a personality – like the Captain – has obviously never known one.

Our cats have been all shapes, sizes and varieties, some who love to cuddle and sleep as close to your head as possible and others who will tolerate an occasional pat but are loyal to a tee.

We’ve had some pretty bossy ones who don’t make friends easily, and others who often brought the neighbour’s cat home for a play date.

Our current cat, Winkz, is almost 15, so she’s done pretty well. For most of her life, we lived in a quiet cul-de-sac where she could roam safe from traffic dangers. But then we moved to a busy main road and two days later she disappeared. We thought we’d never see her again, but then she turned up at the back door after a couple of days demanding food and rarely strayed again.

We thought she’d be in cat heaven when we moved to the village, with a “backyard” stretching into the distance. But nope, she didn’t want to leave the house, or even the outdoor deck for months.

When she finally did gain the confidence to start exploring, I had to explain to the gardener that the ratty old chair next to the deck is for the arthritic cat to get back up on the deck, so please don’t toss it.

She “talks” to us and has become my shadow to the point of meowing pitifully and wandering the house looking for me if I dare to leave the room, let alone the house – bugger the son who chose her, or the husband who secretly wants to be the chosen one.

Have you ever noticed that cats seem to instinctively sense when there is a cat-hater in the room? It’s almost as if those “dumb-cats-with-no-personality-no-loyalty-just-want-to-be-fed-all-the-time” are actually smart enough to zero in, play the charmer and really, really piss off the enemy.

Actually, it sounds pretty clever to me.

Original Article published by Jen White on Region Illawarra.

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I have had two cats: ‘tup’ the stray we looked after and it adopted the family in Adelaide in the 1950s – 60s. An old Tom cat. Grumpy, would tolerate the occasional pat but NEVER picked up …. and lived outdoors. Disappeared one day.

My second was ‘Topaz’, a pure bred Siamese. It meowed like a dog, would play go fetch with screwed up pieces of paper, was protective of my two children as babies (motherly, having had a litter of cute kittens). She could see off virtually any dog which was unfortunate enough to stray onto our front lawn – except the stray Doberman. Last seen disappearing the jaws of the monster. But she came home three days later. Trip to the vet for broken ribs, bandaged, bandage chewed off.

A favourite trick was not to meow at the door to go out: she’d walk on my bookshelves, knocking the odd item off. I’d say, ‘Do you want to go out’? She would then run to the door. She had to be put down at age 16 , in pain with a kidney problem. I still miss her 30 years later.

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