I took our cat to the new McAllen Dog Park. In retrospect, it was an unfortunate decision. If our cat could speak, I’m sure she would use stronger language. As it was, she made her opinion known. I’m told the scratches will heal without leaving any scars.
It was an education for both of us. We learned, for instance, that dogs either have no concept of “do unto others,” or, more disturbing, a totally alien concept of what they want others to “do unto” them. We learned that “off leash” means a total reversion to the primal instincts of wolves and coyotes, at least when a cat is brought onto the scene. That inability to follow even the most basic tenets of civilized behavior (except when a choke chain is around your neck) may be why there are signs forbidding dogs entry to most restaurants. Any cat could point out that you don’t see signs forbidding cats entry.
Let me see if I can describe the events that day as best I can, though I spent most of them laying flat on my back with a Great Dane sitting on my chest. Other than that brief moment when a calico fur-bomb used me as an impromptu launch tower in her effort to leave the dog park by going straight up, the best I can do is describe what I heard:
“Bark, bark-bark-bark-barkbarkbarkbark (repeat for five minutes).”
“Hiss, hiss-hiss-hiss-hisshisshisshiss (repeat for five minutes).”
“What idiot brought a cat?”
“I didn’t know cats could run that fast.”
At about this moment the Great Dane decided to lay down and I was unable to hear what came next. According to the fireman’s report, everyone was surprised that a cat could climb that far up a flag pole before falling back to earth, and were relieved to discover that cats indeed land on their feet, even when they land on the back of a Rottweiler. This event was as confusing to the Rottweiler as it was to our cat. Apparently, dogs know how to chase a cat, but they’re not sure what to do when they catch one by the expedient of having the cat land on their back. A distinct advantage for the cat.
“What did you bring the cat for?” I heard a voice demand over the grumbling of the Great Dane’s stomach. I didn’t answer, mainly because I had Great Dane fur in my mouth. I did reflect on the tendency in such situations to blame the victim. Though I admit, some blame might belong to the cat. I’m sure if she hadn’t run, the dogs would have simply licked her face a little and perhaps smelled her butt. Dog stuff.
But you know how cats can be. If those dogs weren’t willing to follow even the most basic rules of cat etiquette she wasn’t going to have anything to do with them. And I’m sure that even as they were chasing her, they were wondering in their dog minds, “Why do cats have to be so sensitive? We don’t really mean anything by it.”
And, in defense of dogs, I’m sure they’re not prejudiced against cats. If they could talk they’d probably tell you that some of their best friends are cats. And they’d never dream of telling one of those un-PC (prejudiced against cats) “What do you do with a dead cat?” jokes.
On the other hand, putting cats and dogs together invariably has the same result as scheduling a KKK and NAACP meeting on the same weekend at the same hotel. It doesn’t matter how hard they try to get along, how many times the lobby pianist plays “Ebony and Ivory,” there’s going to be a bar fight if someone changes the TV from the football to Oprah.
The problem for cats and dogs isn’t real difference. Like most humans who hate each other — KKK and NAACP, the Tea Party and Barack Obama, Donald and Ivana Trump — they have more in common than they are willing to admit. After all, both (cats and dogs, not the Trumps) can lick themselves in places we don’t even want to think about. Let’s face it, unlike us humans, for cats and dogs such behavior isn’t a matter of choice. I doubt if there’s a dog out there who can resist chasing a cat; just like there’s not a cat that can keep from running from a dog. Unfortunately, if the recent elections are any indication, unlike cats and dogs, you and I are always “off leash.” In my human brain, I keep thinking that there may be many differences among and between us, but there’s one significant difference between us, dogs and cats — choice.