It has been my experience that these categories are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. It is as if the genetic code for loving one type of animal and not the other is hard-wired into our DNA. As it turns out, I am a hard-wired dog lover—a fierce dog lover.
My love for dogs allows little time for cats. It could be, of course, that my tendency toward allergic reactions to cat dander has skewed my view of things. For the most part, I can smell a cat before I see one, and my sensitivities begin firing on all cylinders well before any feline rounds the corner and sidles up to my leg. My eyes redden. My nose runs. It is true: itchy, burning eyes do not the gaze of a cat lover create.
In any event, and though it pains me to say it in the company of such esteemed friends of felines, there has never been a cat I cared a lick for. Over-elegant, they are. Pompous. Aloof. And I’ve always had the faint suspicion that the more soft-pawed species are created with a sense of entitlement, a sense that they are better than every other human in the room. My sister—a fierce cat lover—calls this “independence” and says it’s the quality that she most treasures in her feline companions. I tell her that if she treasures independent aloofness so much, she should adopt a house-full of teenagers.
No, I am not a cat lover.
But bring me a kitten, a small fluffy ball of energy with needle-sharp teeth and pin-prick claws, and place it in my lap. Let it crouch like a tiny lion, let it pounce on my wiggling fingers. Let it wrestle with me until it falls backwards from the chair, landing on all fours before its fearless leap back into the fight. Let it catch my pointer finger, and gnaw, and gnaw, and gnaw until it falls asleep in a ball. Let it purr for the first time in my lap. Bring me a kitten, and you will see the dog lover undone like ball of pawed yarn, a hopeful brute of a fellow who’d rescue every stray in the world, if only to find them homes before they grow into cats.
There are, I suppose, only three kinds of people in the world: dog lovers, cat lovers, and everyone else. The categories may be mutually exclusive, but here’s the tricky nuance—everyone loves a kitten.
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