I have a cat and a dog, both of whom I love. My dog has been plastered by my side through chemo, divorce, moving: every moment of the 10 years she’s been with me. When I’ve been too sick to walk her she runs outside, does her business and gets right back in bed with me. She has been faithful, adoring and accommodating. While I’ve loved this attention, when awake she is staring at me with her big weepy eyes as if to say “pay attention to me” which has created a terrible amount of guilt for me.
In contrast, my cat disappears for most of the day. I’m not totally sure where she goes. She only shows up when her food bowl is half empty. Occasionally she wants attention. At these times she’ll sidle up to me, nuzzle me tentatively and, if I fail to respond, roll her eyes as if to say “whatever dude” and walks away.
If I’m being honest, I love the cat more. Yes – I have a favorite. The reason I love her more is that she leaves me alone. At the core of it, I don’t really get the attraction to dogs. I have enough things to feel guilty about; I don’t need a dog reminding me of my failings. While she is 100% devoted to me, that devotion comes with a price. In contrast, my cat demands only a full food bowl and clean litter box. That is my kind of relationship.
This past weekend I started wondering about animals eating their people when they die, particularly cats as this seems to be the story. This took me to one of my favorite day dreams – a world in which we have no need for undertakers because all bodies have been eaten by cats. Doesn’t this make sense? This is the perfect solution to any number of problems, like over-crowded cemeteries, the toxicity of formaldehyde, the destruction of forests for the production of coffins and of course, perhaps most importantly, the hunger of cats.
As I pondered this benefit of cats I started to wonder. We all know our cats will eat us when we die, but what will our dogs do? After all, they are both animals. Could it be that dogs will just lay by our dead bodies, withering away and succumbing to death as they run out of food? I found this highly unlikely, so I did some googling. (What did I do before google? Could you imagine a brain like mine, circling rabbit holes like this with no actual facts to stop the swirl? Scary.)
As it turns out, dogs also eat their owners. When they die, that is. They eat the dead bodies; not live owners. (Although admittedly, this I did not research) It turns out that there are a plethora of stories of dogs surviving on the remains of their dead human. Of course, this only makes sense. Animals are not meant to be trapped in houses, they are meant to live in the wilderness foraging for food. If they aren’t getting fed they will obviously forage whatever they can; i.e. a dead human.
What I found interesting……more accurately, what really pissed me off…was the explanation. Researchers (who are these people??) stated that the motivation a dog had for eating his owner was distinct from the motives of the cat. They claimed that dogs started at the humans face, which was clear evidence that the animal did not intend to eat the person, but rather wake him up. Hmmmm. It turns out that cats though, also, start at the humans face, but the motive attributed to this is decidedly less generous. I guess I’m back to googling, because I’m not sure how there could be a different motive assigned to the same behavior.
All I can say is WTF. Why do cats get a bad reputation for eating their people when dogs also do it? The only reason I can come up with is sexism. Here is how I came to this.
The reason I started pondering cats & dogs was a Hulu original show called Unreal. It is a depiction of the behind the scenes action of a reality show similar to the Bachelor. In one scene men were asked to state which of the women they though would end up alone with 8 cats. Yes, this is just a stupid show, but I found the question highly offensive. Actually, the whole show is offensive which begs the question of why I was watching it. More to ponder.
Anyway, the suggestion that women with cats are failures is really odd to me. It seems to me that enjoying the company of a cat versus a dog is proof that a person is secure enough to tolerate the constant “dissing” of their pet. Dog owners thrive on the devotion of their animal, most telling me they love that the dog follows them around all day. It gives them a sense of being loved and not alone. Also, why is the story that only women surround themselves with cats? Men do this also, although admittedly less than women. Perhaps men are not equipped to settle into their solitude?
I wouldn’t normally write about this except that it strikes me as timely and topical. With all that is going on in our country, the division between men and women seems to be increasing, and our tolerance for those of the opposite sex decreasing. For example, if you watched Game of Thrones you most likely found yourself on either Team Jon or Team Danni. I was 100% Team Danni, even when she “went mad” and burned down a whole city. Most people viewed her actions as evidence that she had lost her mind. I viewed it as a reaction to major betrayals she’d suffered; she was pissed, she knew she would not achieve the goal she’d worked hard for and she felt helpless to change her fate. To me that sounds like a person pissed off.
In contrast, Jon was one of the 1st to betray her, and I can’t hep wondering why. Why would a person look another in the eye and say “you are my queen and I support you”, then turn around and do exactly what she asked you not to do? At every turn, Jon was running off to rescue someone, even if it required him to turn his back on promises he’d made. Jon was not stable for the entire series, whereas Danni was until the very end. Yet people liked Jon more than Dani. What is that?
I was on a group chat with coworkers during the final season and as I read everyone raving about Jon I grew more agitated. I expressed my thoughts about him. Initially everyone was horrified, but as the chats continued and I pointed out example after example when Jon ran off to be a hero while Dani stood steadfast in her actions, the reaction to those in the chat grew quieter. I don’t think I persuaded anyone to change their mind. In fact, I think the general consensus was that I am a man hater. I disagree with this assessment. What I hate is the status quo that tells us to judge a woman who react with emotion as crazy, while calling a man in the same situation passionate, or a hero. That makes me really angry. I think that much of what is happening in our country today is the result of this pervasive attitude, and I find it disheartening that we have not gotten past these stereotypes. I ended my debate with my group by stating I’d love to see the show redone with Jon as a woman and Danni a man. Of course by then they were pretty sick of me so no one responded. Ooppps.
Anyway, this blog has taken a much more serious tone than I’d intended. I really just wanted to set forth the proposition that dogs are just as likely to eat their dead person as cats, and that perhaps this should be woven into our conversations about women and cats.
Have a great day, and adopt a pet! If for no other reason than you’re body will be taken care of when you die.