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Pets are the Best: Tell Lambert Why He Should Get a Cat

chicago dyke's picture


Prompted by this comment. That's my baby, back when he was a youngling and was trapped in a sunbeam. He and his sister are my world, as in any cat-ruled household. Life is never that bad when one or both are purring somewhere on/near me.

Pets have been shown to do all sorts of good things for people. From saving their lives to improving health, providing companionship and moments of Grace...I can't imagine life without pets. And gosh darn it, I honestly believe there's one type of pet right for everyone, even the very poor or highly allergic.

Fish and a bubbling tank can be very relaxing (although you do have to keep em clean). Turtles are also kewl.

Do you have a pet, or have you had one? How has being owned by/"owning" a pet had a positive impact on your life? It's not a lie for me to say that my cats have at various times kept me alive.

If I had a religion, it'd be this: people who are kind and good, and who also care for cats and love them, get to come back after they die as equally well treated cats. Dog people can have the heretical sect of this faith.

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Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Love that. As a boy, my tabby "Oscar" used to love napping on the window sill; he would lay on his back with his legs stretched wide open to make sure all those sun rays warmed his belly.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Lambert is too good a person for a cat.

That's why he should get a dog (or two). I owned a cat once, and kept it until it died even after I found out that it wasn't "pollen" that was my problem, but the cat. She was a really good cat too. But dogs are just better.

With a cat, you never know what you're getting -- some are cloying and overbearing, others aloof and distant. But dogs are well, dogs -- and just better.

Dogs are happy when you get home. Always. I take the trash out, the dogs are happy when I walk back in the door. I shovel snow, they've overjoyed when I walk back in. And if I'm gone for more than an hour, its pure ectasy!

Cats aren't happy when you get home. If they are asleep they don't wake up. If they are sunning themselves, they don't get up. Unless, of course, they want something. Like food. Or they are bored, and want attention.

Not dogs. They're just happy to see you. They're happy just to be in your presence when you're asleep, and happier to be there when you are awake.

Dogs, of course, are more work than cats. Dogs have to be emptied a couple of times a day, and exercised. All that cats require is that you change their litter every so often, and food.

In sum, dogs are pets. Cats are a hybid of dogs, and pet rocks.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Cats aren’t happy when you get home.

My cat is usually very happy to see me. So happy he will stretch up on his hind legs to rub his cheeks on my hands. He insists on being greeted and then goes to the door to be let outside.

pookapooka's picture
Submitted by pookapooka on

...from a pal who had to leave the state, dotes on me. Every time I walk through our front door, Fred flops over and I must spend a certain length of time (or more) scratching her underchin and temples. In that way she is reassured that I am the legit dotee of her life.

Cats are wonderful companions and endless fun to be around. Likewise with dogs. Maybe even for rabbits and ferrets, I dunno ... It's all a matter of living conditions and personal taste.

Don't bother with insects, however -- they never cuddle.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

usually very happy to see me He insists on being greeted

I must spend a certain length of time

I rest my case. Dogs are ALWAYS happy to see you, and their happiness isn't related to the fact that they've got you trained to stroke them when you walk in the door. Dogs are happy just because you are there.

I mean, I have nothing against cats. But dogs are just better.

Submitted by lambert on

Paul writes:

Dogs are happy just because you are there.

Cats are happy when they're happy. Often when they are being fed, I grant you, but not always.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

hmmm... self esteem issues much?

What I'm really trying to say is I think you should have a dog because you are the kind of person that deserves one.

There are almost no bad cat owners -- that's because an abusive or neglectful cat owner will find itsself with a runaway cat. I'd give a cat away to anyone, unless I know that the person has a history of abuse or neglect of a pet.

But a dog will put up with enormous amounts of abuse and neglect, and still stay with its owner. My default position is that nobody should have a dog unless they deserve one -- I'd never give a dog away to someone unless I felt that they will earn the love that the dog will give them unconditionally. You don't have to earn a dog's love, you choose to do so.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

don't go to get a pet from a shelter if you're poor. They've gotten very persnickity these days. Get a free-market cat and then walk in to the pound and ask if you can ride along at their rates the next time the vet comes by for shots-n-spay day. They'll be so thrilled you're not dumping another animal on them that they will almost certainly say yes.

The saucer-of-milk-out-on-the-porch recruitment scheme sounds good to me. Plus, in another month or so there'll be Free Kittenz!! ads three deep on every light and traffic pole, so there's always that alternative.

Just remember, as "the wand chooses the wizard," so "the cat chooses the keeper." As noted above one that doesn't want to be with you won't be for very long anyway.

Submitted by lambert on

... was exactly that scenario, Xan. A wonderful adult cat adopted her and ultimately decided to move into the house. I like the free decision part. That's the issue with me with dogs, not self-esteem issues...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

"A wonderful adult cat adopted her and ultimately decided to move into the house. I like the free decision part. That’s the issue with me with dogs, not self-esteem issues…"

Lambert, were it not for the fact that animal control people concentrate a lot more on stray dogs than on stray cats, you'd see the same choices being made by dogs.

kelley b's picture
Submitted by kelley b on

Dogs are perfectly happy without you, too.

But if you are a member of the pack of a dog you have unqualified love and loyalty.

Dogs need space and time and an occasional squirrel to chase. Actually catching one is not required, and in fact has many drawbacks. But I'd never tell my dog that.

No Hell below us
Above us, only sky

Submitted by lambert on

... I am not a pack animal.

When I had both a cat and dog, I loved them both (and they, in their own ways, me). But I do prefer cats.

Besides, I could cat blog on Friday...

There is also the practical matter that in an old house, I sometimes have mice.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Cat, I mean. I'm sure there will be exceptions noted 3.16 seconds after I hit "pubish" but in my experience I have never known a male cat to mouse worth a damn.

Hell, I have three right now, all male, and nobody in this house has caused rodental death besides me since the death of old gray Gunner, the last female.

Even in the nature shows about wild felines, especially lions, it's always the females who go out and stalk and chase and kill the wildebeest or whatever.

The males just sit there, shaking their manes photogenically from time to time, and thinking about ...well, one could speculate, but after the Wildebeest Death Drama there's usually one of those animal porn shots. Just sayin.'

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

C'mon, eh? Take a stand for the little creatures, the ones with no voice, no advocates, no lobbyists.

“Wee, sleekit cowerin timorous beastie,
Oh what a power’s in thy breastie
Thou need nae run awa sae hastie
Wi bickerin brattle
I would be laith to run and chase thee
Wi murderin pattle.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken nature’s social union
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle at me
Thy poor earth born companion
And fellow mortal.”

Plus Haggis, and single-malt.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Cat, I mean. I’m sure there will be exceptions noted 3.16 seconds after I hit “pubish” but in my experience I have never known a male cat to mouse worth a damn.

its not just cats. Both female dogs I've had have been serious mousers... the two males could care less.

(ya think it has anything to do with how defenseless and vulnerable newborn kitties and puppies are?)

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

I'm REALLY disappointed with how civil this discussion has been. ;-)

Charles Lemos's picture
Submitted by Charles Lemos on

I grew up in Colombia and even then as a child the country was slipping into violence. There had been a kidnapping attempt on my maternal grandfather already. Colombian families are matrilineal and we lived in a huge house one extended family. My maternal cousins are like my brothers and sisters. There is no difference.

When I was not quite 10 one day my mother and I drove into downtown to pick up my sister from her music class. I took my Susie, a Pekingese that been given me on my first birthday. We each had our dog, a total of seven in the house and more on the farm. While my mother went in to retrieve my sister, I stayed in the car with Susie.

A man who I had seen before, perhaps a worker but who knows, came from down the block and told me to open the trunk so he could retrieve some paint. We were painting the house at the time. As I went to open the door, Susie went ballistic. Barking and lunging at the man. I tried to control her and the man tried to open the door but she escaped me and simply lunged at him. He chose to flee.

We were never able to figure out if he was trying to steal the car or kidnap me. But Susie prevented either or both. I was a stupid or innocent child. She was a smarter, protective dog who sensed a danger. She was also able to predict earthquakes by a minute or more.

And then there is that sad day in September 1977 when I was off to boarding school in the United States and we looked at each other tears were in her eyes and we knew would see each other again, we hugged for as long we could before I had go to the airport. She died two months later.

My life wouldn't be my life without my dogs. But Susie is very special. I need to go dry my tears now.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

for an exotic pet like, say, a Nubian goat, Rhode Island Red rooster, Araucana hen or an adopted mustang or donkey, never mind a Newfoundland or Malamute or even something as semi-exotic as a polydactyl/Manx mix.

I think a cat, or perhaps multiple cats, would suit the life lambert is building quite well, actually.

I'm sure our seven would agree.

Charles Lemos's picture
Submitted by Charles Lemos on

Okay I've stopped crying. Our female Afghan Hound, Kathy, she was a show dog, AKC and all that, and a best in show quality dog. She was great. Technically she was my cousin Luis Enrique's dog (see above) but like I said we lived as extended family in one huge house (it is now three). Well Kathy was a mouser. She loved to catch them and leave them on our pillows as gifts. She could catch quite few.

We used to love to get her stoned. She was so funny. She would whimper and roll her eyes. She was such a joy, so full of life. A large dog who thought she was a lap dog.

And then there was Rey, another Afghan Hound and mine. He wasn't a mouser at all. But he learned to open doors. We can't figure it out. But turn the knob and pull the door back he did. We are still amazed. Neither Kathy nor Rey could tolerate cats or squirrels. If they saw one, they were off to the races. Kathy also had a bizarre taste in men. Rey wasn't good enough for her. Nor was any of the other male dogs we had. She preferred the dog that lived around the corner, a small Jack Russel terrier. Out the door, she would drag us to the right and around the corner to go see Tesero (he belonged to a classmate's grandparents). Once she got, she would whimper if he was in the yard and the two would have a love fest. If Tesero wasn't out, she would leave a bucket of urine as if to say smell me while I dream of you.

And Patches, my mother's prized long-haired Chihuahua. She bit and snipped at everyone but my mom until she mellowed with age. Probably it took a decade before I could safely hold her in my arms. Patches was a gift to my mother from Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia. My mom was a Colombian diplomat and so Patches was royalty and treated accordingly. She was served at the table.

Ginger was one fine Boxer. My cousin Gloria's dog. Ginger was so sweet with us as children. And then there was Diana, a Doberman Pinscher who got out one day and bit a policeman of all people. And there was Halie, my second dog, a German Short-Haired Pointer. Halie too was a mouser though she more devoured them than left them for gifts. She was also a good snaker. She would tackle rattlers and chase them away. She got hit by a car, and the car had more damaged than she did. One tough old bird. Didn't even break a bone. Bruised. The car lost its fender.

And now I have Bear Bear. My little black Pomerian who loves his bacon bacon and we go for long walk walks through the Castro here in San Francisco strutting our stuff.

Dogs have been our companions for 50,000 years. Their journey and our journey are now intertwined on an evolutionary level. Cats not so much. They are pampered killers. There was a study in Wisconsin how domestic and feral cats kill millions of birds a year in Wisconsin alone.

God I love this blog.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I think if I had to pick one word to describe all the Senior Fellows here (and the vast majority of the commenters) it would not be "political geeks" or "social commentators" (well, ignoring the fact that each of those are two with me here) it would be "storytellers."

Sometimes we tell stories about politics and the choices and work it involves...but then the next post will be a story about gardening or home repairs/improvement or energy conservation or the social implications of cowboy hats or, Lord love a duck, getting a cat. Or dog.

You fit in well. You have just taught me more about growing up in Columbia than I ever knew in my life. Not to mention I never knew anybody whose famiy got a dog from an emperor before. :)

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

The little one, Montreal, always greats me and makes a little squeak hello.

The older, grumpier one, if he's awake, will say hello, too.

And they both sleep on top of me at night during the winter.

Montreal usually wants to sleep under the covers, which is odd. She is a little odd, but an absolute sweetheart. I wouldn't call Chicago a sweetheart, per se, but he's seen a lot of this world and I can blame him for being a little moody.


Submitted by lambert on

Cats are in it for the food: Film at 11:

Large-scale grain agriculture began in the Near East’s Fertile Crescent. With the storage of surplus grain came mice, which fed on it and contaminated it.

Settled farming communities with dense rodent populations were a new habitat. Wildcats came out of the woods and grasslands to exploit it. They may have lived close to man — but not petting-close — for centuries.

Eventually, though, natural selection favored individual animals whose genetic makeup by chance made them tolerant of human contact. Such behavior provided them with things — a night indoors, the occasional bowl of milk — that allowed them to out-compete their scaredy-cat relatives.

For people, it was a great package — agriculture, food surplus (and all the civilizing effects that came with it), with domesticated cats thrown in to protect the wealth by eating the mice.

As I said: I like cats—understanding them doesn’t prevent me from liking them (and vice versa, I suppose. cats have a language just for us).

Check the link for other interesting material on cats as Gods, and the fact that all cats on earth can be traced back to five original mothers.

One could look at dogs as the quintessential animal companion for hunters and gatherers. Then with agriculture, you get grain, and granaries, and rodents... And beer... And cities. Paradoxically, it's possible for cats to walk alone precisely because, as domesticated or even as feral, they are creatures of the built environment in a way that dogs are not.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Sima's picture
Submitted by Sima on

brought tears to my eyes too!

I'm sitting here, listening to the panting of my aged dog, Reyna. She's a Finnish Spitz, and I love her very much. On the back of my chair sits MiniBit, my partner's cat. My cat, GrisGris, is off creating mischief somewhere. Outside prowls Artemis, who was so traumatized before we got him that he hates people and being inside. But he loves my dog!

And beyond are our 16 goats. Everyone of them a pet, but with by-products (milk and manure) for which we are very grateful. Miss Mack, the head doe, knows everything there is to know. You can see the wisdom in her golden almond shaped cat-like eyes. If you milk her wrong, she'll turn around and nip you gently, just to let you know to straighten up and fly right. She will give birth in a few weeks. I'll maybe post some baby goat pictures then!

But Lambert, even though these are miniature goats, I don't think one will fit in your house. They can be house trained like dogs, but... you need a cat!

Our two inside cats came from the woodpile of a friend. She found the kittens and their mother; the mother feral and not at all willing to be tamed. She got the kittens through worms and eye infections and gave two of them to us. They are the best. GrisGris wakes me in the morning. MiniBit follows my partner around like a dog. And both of them boss my dog, Reyna, around. Artemis, outside, also bosses Reyna around. In fact he's the one that taught her as a puppy to respect cats. Reyna has her morning rounds and Artemis comes with her. They visit the compost heap and do a bit of digging together. Then it's off to the woodpile to look for rodents. A turn around the goat enclosure, but not so far down that the scary bucks can make weird noises at them. Then back up to the front porch to lie in the sun and appreciate old age.

Charles Lemos's picture
Submitted by Charles Lemos on

Xan for that kind welcome and to Sima for her kind words as well.

I did see this in the UK Guardian today about a pet in Australia that met an unfortunate end in the jaws of 16 foot python. Warning the picture is graphic and not pretty.