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Fragments 4

Dear Dogs and Cats . . .
Cats are Top Dogs

Dear Dogs and Cats . . .

[ with acknowledgements and many thanks to Ann Clulow in Australia ]

The dishes with the pawprints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note that placing a pawprint in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim and make it your food and dish, and neither do I find it aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

Togetherness I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed; I am very sorry about this. I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can curl up in a ball when they sleep: it is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to one another and stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also realise that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out at the other end to maximise space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time: there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I have to exit through the same door I entered through. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years — canine or feline attendance is not mandatory.

To pacify you, though, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

Rules for Non-Pet Owners who Visit and Like to Complain about our Pets:

1) They live here. You don't.
2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture (that's why it's called 'fur'-niture).
3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4) To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short; hairy or furry; walks on four legs; and doesn't always speak clearly.
5) Cats and dogs are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions, and don't need a gazillion dollars for college. Best of all — if they get pregnant, you can sell the children!

Cats are Top Dogs

by Howard Jones

Ain't love grand Cats are better than dogs, many people would claim. 'Even the smallest feline is a masterpiece,' said Leonardo da Vinci; yet dogs are said to be 'man's best friend', with cats being a second choice. Is this really so?

Cats don't go chasing cyclists in the park, stealing kids' balls or annoying the neighbours with their howling. When was the last time you heard of a cat causing fatal injuries to its owner? Well, in America alone last year there were over 20 dog-related deaths, and a reported 4.5 million dog attacks — and people moan if the cat brings in a dead mouse?

Cats have had the blame for the reduction in the number of songbirds in our gardens when really, looking a little closer at what mankind has done, the widespread use of pesticides and industrial pollution have inevitably had a damaging effect on the bird population.

Another man-made problem is the ever-increasing amount of litter that scatters across our streets, yards and gardens. You are said to be never more than six feet away from a rat, and an estimated 70 million rats share this country with us. That number would be much higher if it wasn't for the actions of some of our domestic moggies.

Cats are serene, intelligent, playful — and it's only non-cat owners who will tell you that they are aloof, independent, cannot be trained and just sleep. But any cat owner knows that, unlike dogs, cats cannot be bought with the cheap offer of a biscuit and a stroke. Cats aren't selfish or aloof, although they might appear that way with people they don't know — but cats choose to be with you. You have to earn a cat's trust, love and affection, and once established it becomes a magical reciprocal relationship. It's not a master-and-pet relationship; they don't challenge for status, have a need to be dominated or battle for control. Instead, it's a relationship about being equals and sharing a life together.

If you've ever owned a dog, you know there's no arguing against the fact that cats are impeccably clean and dogs are . . . well, how can we say it? Not! Even the best-groomed dog has that certain canine-cologne 'pong'; you're spared that inevitable doggy breath with a household moggy, and unlike dogs they don't eat — or delight in rolling in — the smelliest of unmentionables.

A cat's 'smile' and seal of approval is its constant and reassuring purr. When stroking a cat and hearing that warm, contented and rhythmical purr, there's nothing else to compare. Cats greet you in a careful, graceful manner when you come home from work — a little different from the welcome of a Labrador apparently just fired from a canine missile launcher!

And there is another distinct difference. Dog owners can march around muddy fields three times a day, in chilling wind and freezing rain or hail — then go home to clean off all the fox 'poo' their pet has been rolling in . . . again! Cat owners, on the other hand, just go for a walk when they want to!

This article appeared in the Shropshire Star newspaper in April 2005 and is reproduced with the permission of the author, Howard Jones, to whom we are very grateful. Howard is an animal behaviourist who runs Dogdayz in Wellington, Shropshire.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page, and your companion through Feline Fragments, is Maggie. She came as a kitten from Powys Cat Rescue. One of their volunteers had seen her wandering around, apparently uncared for, and thought her rather young to be just left to roam. The person 'responsible' for her said she 'didn't care', and so the youngster was taken in for rehoming. Only about 4 months old when I brought her home in 2003, she was a self-assured soul, probably because of her early experience, and was soon climbing all the available trees in the garden. She was a determined hunter in her earlier days, and was usually outside, but now prefers snoozing unless the weather is good. She has superb whiskers — and as the photo shows, loves getting into things! (see it here without the puzzle effect)

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Page created August 2005, with later revisions