HomeHuman to cat relationshipcompanionshipDogs Are Not Pets But Cats Are (discussion)


Dogs Are Not Pets But Cats Are (discussion) — 9 Comments

  1. Down here where I live, people talk to themselves. Which doesn’t mean they’re queer in the head. They talk to themselves because they have more ocean, mountains, forests and rivers than they have neighbors. Sunk in their solitude, fulminating, bewhiskered old-timers amble down the road past my house every day.

    In a similar vein, yesterday morning I stood in my garden, verbally raking someone I haven’t seen in years: a man who sawed my grapevines to the ground in 2005. Seeing as how he’d just bought my house, I couldn’t let him know what I wanted to do with his chainsaw. But after he’d left, I wept as if he’d butchered half my family. I slid a bowl under one of the stumps, and it dripped its golden blood in that bowl for days.

    Yesterday, though, I was thinking of the past, when every late summer you’d find me in the kitchen, surrounded by kettles and colanders, mesh strainers, wooden spoons, dozens of quart jars, mountains of fruit piled in the sinks and plopping on the floor. And I thought of my boy who was fascinated to watch me mashing grapes. He sat all day and into the night on the kitchen table, keeping an eye on and talking to me.

    Those years have vanished. Nothing’s left but his ashes and memories. My grapes were gone too.

    So there I was, badmouthing this man yesterday morning, then walking to the end of the garden to take a look at my twenty feet of vines, as I’ve done every summer.

    Vines? What vines? Well, I clipped off a handful of twigs from the parents that lay on the ground years ago, rolled them up in wet newsprint and took them with me when I moved. Though I doubted they’d grow, I was wrong. A week after I’d stuck them in the dirt, they were sprouting leaf-buds.

    Five miles down the road from my house is a winery with a small vineyard. Low-sugar grapes tolerate cold. But I don’t like wine, and sugary ‘juice’ grapes need eighteen units of heat, or something. And all we have is twelve. Which is why, nine years later, my vines are barren. (Strange, since figs flourish in this climate.)

    Be that as it may, yesterday I’m thinking dark thoughts as I wander down to the hedge and poke my head under the leaves, knowing there’s nothing to see, so why bother? But then, moments later – EGADS! AM I LOSING MY GRIP? Feeling around, I’m finding seventeen clusters of grapes! Were they small? Don’t ask. The sturdiest were three inches wide and twice as long as an Irish potato, their grapes bigger than peas, but smaller than marbles. Will they ripen? Good chance. Until late October, this time of the year is sun-gilded. Are the grapes a sign of global warming? Not that I can see. It’s been an average summer. Very nice, but average.

    Yes. It’s absurd to rhapsodize over grapes. Anyone living farther south will laugh to read this. So do I, when I think of my parents’ 40-acre farm up the coast from San Francisco. Their 100-foot row of grapes that grew along the orchard was rampant and neglected, loaded with amber cascades of grapes that hung to the ground.

    But I live fifteen hours north of that farm, and grapes this close to the ocean won’t fruit unless they’re wine grapes. Even at that, vintners west of the mountains grow ‘play vineyards’ to thrill the clientele, and truck in tons of grapes from eastern Washington.

    How to encourage my little harvest? The grapes in Seattle liked my stone house, although the had only six hours of sun. Down here they’re blasted with fourteen hours during the summer, and nine hours until late October. Clear plastic sheeting draped over the fence would raise the heat to 110 F. Which wouldn’t work: bees need easy access to the flowers. Another drawback: plastic doesn’t biodegrade. A two-foot layer of gravel might offer a friendlier solution.

    Anyhow, why am I overjoyed by my grapes? And what have grapes to do with cats? I’m happy because these varieties have a perfumed flavor, a ravishing sweetness with no resemblance to supermarket grapes. I’m happy because their massacred parents were babies in pots when I brought them home from the nursery eighteen years ago, and they didn’t deserve to die in the springtime of their lives. A grapevine can thrive for four hundred years, and my vines were lavishly kind to me during their brief lives. They deserved to live on – and that’s what they’re doing! Another reason? I’m happy because my land is a Garden of Eden. I don’t spray my plants with chemicals.

    Beyond that, my grapes are a window to the past. They make me remember my home in Seattle. And most of all, they make me remember my best boy who stayed with me as I worked in my kitchen on warm summer midnights, smothered in baskets and buckets of green and purple grapes.

    Is a cat or dog a ‘pet?’ Alice Koller, a scholarly writer of beautiful books, found the word abominable. In common with Geri, in her equally beautiful comment, her animals were her companions. So was my boy.

    Except for several cat-loving friends I left behind when I moved here, you were my friend, Ruth, who understood what he and I were going through. You consoled me every day. He took ten months to die. And to call those months ‘stations of the cross’ is a blasphemous cliché. So let’s call them a ‘challenge,’ and let it go at that. I did everything I could to make sure – at least to hope – he had no major suffering. But what he did to me is lasting. I know no one down here in this land of duck-hunters and their retrievers who likes cats. There was no one but you, in faraway England, who kept me half-alive. And you still endure my tears.

    Cleveland Amory would never have used the word ‘pet’ for an animal. He thought the world of his cats. He also praised coyotes. True, when they’re hungry they kill rabbits, cats, small dogs and small livestock. As I wrote to you during the final months of my boy and little girl’s lives, I used to drive out to the woods with jugs of cat food, park on a dirt road, and walk up a hill where there were coyotes. They yapped when they heard me! They knew I was coming! Mr. Amory admired their intelligence, their playful personalities and capacity for friendship – if people could be trusted. Which of course they can’t. In his book he describes a group of hunters, some of them ashamed, encircling an exhausted coyote who dodged their bullets for hours until he was driven, at last, into a field and gunned down in the crossfire.

    Mr. Amory also wrote about a man who hiked into a wilderness meadow where a coyote waited for him every day, so the two of them could play.

    No — an animal isn’t a ‘pet.’ It’s our beloved, carnivorous child.

  2. I thought it took intelligence to be a journalist, but that is not the case here! She clearly shows her lack of knowledge on the subject. Having had 3 cats in my lifetime, working on the third one now, i have received lots of love and affection from my fur friends! They indeed express love. It is true about the cat that if you blink your eyes slowly and they blink their eyes as well, is a direct signal of saying I love you! They communicate with their eyes and are very vocal. They sometimes enjoy snuggling up on the sofa while you watch tv or lay in the bed. How dare some clueless amateur journalist to blacken the eye of every cat lover and proud cat parent everywhere! This lady needs a new profession. Perhaps a cashier at a local gas station! Leave journalism to the real pros!

  3. Well isnt a Pet abit like an Campanion Animal? Isnt it weird how all the other Pets are signaled out. I think its just saying Dogs are better dont worry about other Pets. I feel offended by what she said. I’m alwys a Cat Person, I can tolerate Dogs as long as they not Yappy and too Noisey. My Sister had to SPlit her dog Family up which was rather upsetting. Which makes me think how its going to be when I will have to do the same thing in the Nxt Year or so. She Could only keep one Dog I guess thats the pain thing when Renting. 🙁

  4. It’s too bad that her opinion is published in a newspaper where people can be swayed.
    There are many species that are wonderful companions, cats included.
    I like dogs and have had some. But, they are different from cats in many ways. Their requirements and needs are different. Cats, as a whole, are very smart and can be very loyal. There are some smart dogs too. But, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get those darn dogs to use the litter box, wash themselves, or walk themselves.

    • It’s too bad that her opinion is published in a newspaper where people can be swayed.

      Yes, In think it is irresponsible. These articles in mainstream and respected newspapers carry weight and we need to do the opposite and raise the profile of the cat not knock it.

  5. The woman is ignorant! And I am highly offended.Animals are our companions,no matter the species.My cats have defended me against an abusive ex,one cat gave her life to save my son when he was 2,others have been good nannies,waking me if my babies cried,staying by my side when very ill,licking my eyelids to break a 105 fever,showing me love even when I was not loveable,and when I came home from work,3 children,8 cats,and a wolf welcomed me home,all rushing the door in an explosion of love.Even now,the children are grown,the wolf has passed,the cats greet me at the door.They cry when I have to leave for work and they have helped me recover from a 3 year long depression.I saved them,but they have saved me. As for independent,being less needy,I am that way,I get it. I’d rather be wanted in someone’s life than needed. Needy people,like needy animals,can be a drain.Dogs and humans are dependant on each other. Cats and people mutually love and respect each other,they do not use each other.

    • Totally agree, Geri. I always criticize journalists if they misrepresent the cat because as far as I am concerned it can have consequences which are detrimental to the cat generally i.e. cruelty and abuse. There are a lot of bad people out there.

  6. This is typical and what a blinkered attitude this woman has, for some reason many people seem to think that dogs are superior and cats inferior, we’ve seen it on POC many times, the cat has to go when a dog is brought into the home, the cat has to be declawed in case it scratches the puppy, it makes me angry. Cats already get enough bad press without this silly woman foisting her opinions on the public through her stupid article, how can she liken cats to goldfish and hamsters, cats are equally as loving as dogs, if not more, they are certainly more gentle and relaxing company than dogs. She hasn’t a clue, it’s obvious she’s never known a cat.

  7. The woman is an idiot! Dogs are not pets, the S is missed out, many are PESTS to other people, probably hers are too, yet she thinks everyone should love them.
    I’ve always loved dogs but it seems more and more people are allowing them to spoil other peoples quality of life, here we have barking day and night from dogs either shut outside or inside long hours on their own with windows open so the whole neighbourhood can share the noise. It’s not the dogs fault but they do irritate people.
    When we had dogs we took them for walks and played with them, they only barked when there was a reason.
    Cats are family, how can she lump them in with goldfish!
    Well she doesn’t know what she’s missing preferring dogs over cats and serve her right!

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