Frank Mulligan: Meet the two-legged cat
A fundamental difference in dogs and cats occurred to me while I was standing in the supermarket checkout line.
I had time to think because the lady in front of me appeared to be negotiating her purchase of a dozen eggs and half a gallon of milk with a check drawn on an unmarked Swiss bank account.
There was little in the way of diversion after scanning the tabloids, except for a little booklet on cats. It promised to offer insights on feline behavior.
I’ve got two cats, both of whom require some form of therapy.
According to the booklet’s author, cats look on their owners as other cats, funny looking and rather accomplished, but still, just cats.
Your typical, reasonably bright dog, I believe, is under the impression he’s a fellow human being.
But cats don’t believe they’re one of us - they think we’re one of them.
This was a stunning discovery that had my head reeling by the time the lady in front of me had concluded her acquisition in slightly less time than it took Thomas Jefferson to buy the Louisiana Territory.
“This explains a few things,” I thought to myself. “No wonder the cats feel free to raid the garbage on a daily basis, get into the shelves, ruin loaves of bread and occasionally treat the living room as an impromptu litter box. Their problem is that they don’t view me as a superior. To them, I’m just a two-legged cat who’s figured out how to work a can-opener.”
I resolved to disabuse them of this misapprehension immediately.
They were curled up together on a chair in the living room when I arrived home, the black-and-white-male, Friskee, and his gray sister, Grayee.
I got right to the point.
“I’m not a cat. I’m a human being. Look,” I held up my hands in front of them and wiggled my fingers. “I have opposable thumbs. They give me the ability to use tools, turn a doorknob, drive a car and insert DVDs. I’m the boss around here. I’m not some alpha cat with odd ways. You two better start toeing, er, clawing the line. No more in the garbage, no more shelves, no more loaves of bread, and definitely no more living-room rest stops. That’s it.”
I was tough, but fair.
I, of course, was not privy to the communication that ensued between the two felines in an intuitive physical language not fathomable to homo sapiens, translated thusly:
Grayee: What’s up with the two-legged cat?
Friskee: Who knows? He’s always meowing about something.
Grayee: Want to go eat some garbage?
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a classic column, not because it’s necessarily any good but because it appeared in a prior edition.