I remember watching a comedian years ago who compared cat people and dog people. He said that dog people don’t let their dogs go to the bathroom in a box in the kitchen; it doesn’t make cat people bad, it just makes them more tolerant of crap in a box in the kitchen.
After I laughed for a good long while about this, it made me think.
Mostly about tolerance.
The comedian is absolutely right about cat people. We are able to tolerate so much more than most people because, well, we have cats.
My wild child, Loki, will use my stomach not only as a place to sit on and survey his territory (i.e. my room) but he will also use it as a catapult (no pun intended) from which to spring off in order to go after one of his feline siblings. It seems no matter how hard I try, I cannot anticipate this and it always makes me feel like my insides are not only falling out, but my lungs may also be collapsing.
Totally fun (insert sarcastic tone here).
Could you ever – and I mean ever – imagine letter a person do something like that?
Oh, and the furniture. My cats have destroyed my furniture. I have a wooden DVD holder that my felines think is a scratching post. It’s got cat claw marks all down the one side. They have actually taken to scratching and clawing it up while looking upside down at me. Seriously. They make eye contact while they’re doing this and apparently trying to be cute at the same time.
Do I go crazy? Do I scream and shout? No, I do not.
The wild child Loki also likes to drink from the faucets. He will perch himself on the sink or the tub and literally side-eye me until I turn the water on for him. Can you believe this? Do I ignore him? Do I tell him, look, this is a level of tomfoolery I simply cannot abide? No. I do not. I turn the faucets on and wait until he’s done so he can get his refreshing drink of water the way he prefers it.
If a person expected me to do this every day, I would probably say and/or do all the above-mentioned questions and yet my cats get preferential treatment.
Then I took my wandering thoughts a step further and pondered how my attitude would be different if I could look at people the way I do my cats – if I could apply the same amount of tolerance I had for my cats and their perceived “bad behavior” to the people who upset me. Had I finally found the key to lowering my blood pressure? Would this newfound epiphany of mine actually help reduce my stress level?
Sometimes I think it’s far easier to forgive a pet then it is to forgive a human. Maybe because people have the ability to reason and speak and communicate in words and should therefore be held more accountable for what they do. Or maybe because animals don’t really hurt you as deeply as people sometimes can.
Still, it’s a nice ideal for which to strive.
I really think the key to a better world is tolerance – not only with our animals, but with each other, as well, in pretty much every aspect of life. Be tolerant of those who are different from you. Be tolerant of opinions other than yours. Be tolerant of choices people make that may not be the ones you would make.
If we were more able to let others be who they are, like many of us do with our animals, I wonder how much less violence and strife there would be in the world?
It’s an interesting thought.
So, for the animal-lovers who I know are reading these words right now, the next time you get furious about something someone said or did, stop for a second and pretend your dog or cat actually did it. Would you be more tolerant if the actions came from your four-legged friend?
If the answer is yes, maybe that’s how you should approach your reaction to the situation.
I think I just found a new coping mechanism – and from a comedian, no less. It just goes to show you life’s lessons can be found just about anywhere – if you take the time to really look.
Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected] The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 717-263-5791 or visit the website www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.