I wasn’t intending to write any more Dog Training for Cats blogs. I thought I’d taken the observations as far as I could go really, recognising finally that while cats are from Venus, dogs are from Mars. Two different species, some surprisingly similar characteristics but otherwise… well… not worth chuntering on about.
But a couple of things recently have made me re-think the whole cats as dogs thing. They are in fact remarkably similar to the extent that I believe cats are in fact dogs in smaller furry coats.
The big difference is enthusiasm. Dogs exhibit it shamelessly – all the panting the drooling, the leaping about, the running to the door and back to indicate “You’re taking me out? We’re going out! Yeah! We’re going out!! Come on! We’re going out aren’t we?! How long are you taking? We’re going out!! Definitely going out. This is the door. Look a door!”
Similarly a dog will openly show massive enthusiasm for food. Roly, my English Springer Spaniel, did this every time I went to my mother’s house. We would sit and have a cuppa pretending not to look at him. Rolls would be on point, silently, tail wagging furiously, nose quivering pressed up against the door of the cupboard where the pigs ears were kept. If we ignored him long enough he would come over to us, fix mumsie with beeseeching eyes and tell her clearly “The pigs ears are over here. IN HERE Really!! Look at my nose. Follow the nose!” He would then resume his position with nose against cupboard with manically-wagging tail. Course, she always caved in.
Cats, on the other hand, are practised at hiding their enthusiasm in purrsuit (geddit?) of COOOL.
A cat *has* to be cool. It’s aim in life is to sleep and never to give away a single clue to any of the enthusiasms it conceals within.
I‘m convinced that they have the same enthusiasms for food and for fun, namely the game of Interact with the Human. But they must never show any sign of the yearnings boiling within.
Example: in the morning, I serve up some cat food in dishes for Leo and Fat Lily. I yell “brekkies” loudly because they are both relaxing upstairs on the bed. Yes I know, none of my dogs were ever allowed in the bedroom but.. well, you know.. standards have slipped.
So I yell, I hear the thump as Leo lands on the floor.. I hear him thud thud thud thud running down the stairs but at the bottom, just out of sight of the kitchen doorway, he pauses, gathers all the feline insouciance he can muster.. and swaggers slowly into the kitchen.
He is about to pass the food bowls when he stops for a moment, turns a mildly – only mildly mind you – interested head towards the dishes and gives every sign of thinking “Oh good. Perhaps I’ll give it a sniff.” then promptly spends the next five minutes devouring every scrap.
Sometimes, apropos of nothing, I might yell ”Treeeeeets!!” in a high-pitched voice (yes the neighbours love me) just to see what happens. The back fence wobbles as Leo crashes on to the top of it from the other side, leaps off and runs across the lawn, explodes through the cat flap and switches effortlessly to cool, stops, looks around and wanders over casually to where the treats might be.
He will follow instructions to sit and beg for a Dreamie although unlike a dog, he will put his paw up to the hand holding the Dreamie to make sure you’re not just kidding and don’t even fecking consider teasing by pulling that Dreamie away at the last moment…
The other morning, I was coming back from a run to find Leo in his chillin’-and-going-to-be-here-for-some-time position, front paws tucked in, on top the wall at the side of the drive.
“Hello are you waiting for me or something?” I asked him. He replied “Meow” which means “Of course. Where the hell have you been?”
“Do you want to come in? “ I say as he gets up and follows me.
I hold the side gate open for him as I used to do for the dog. But no, of course he doesn’t want to walk through a open gateway. That’s no way to treat a cat. No, I have to shut the gate so he can leap on to the wall, hop on top of the gate and jump down, showing off all his cool feline skills. Walking through the open gateway is just soooo last-dog.
Fat Lily appeared on the outside windowsill of the study window the other day. I was amazed to see her there. It meant she’d either shinned up a drainpipe or somehow got on to next-door’s garage roof and performed a flying Fat Lily leap over to our dining room roof.
Naturally I opened the window and let her in. But then she meowed to go back out through the window, so I let her out and watched. She walked coolly down the sloping roof before launching herself into the branches of the nearby viburnum bush, where she did a ridiculously wonky climbing monkey act and fell out of sight.
I didn’t have time to worry before the cat flap slammed in the kitchen there was the thumping of Fat Lily sprinting up the stairs. True to form, she sauntered back into the room with a pleased-looking vertical hooky tail, hopped coolly on to the windowsill…. and meowed to be let out of the window to do it all again!
Tell you what, any dog would love to be able to do that….
Dogs in little furry coats.