Cats and Dogs

My wife is a cat person. I am a dog person.

I do not understand why my wife is a cat person. Why be a cat person, right? Cats are neurotic, fiercely independent, super picky, indifferent to your existence, jerkface assholes. Agreed? Good.

Dogs on the other hand are sweet, pleasant and so damn simple. The end.

I despise cats. I wouldn’t say I hate them, but I passionately dislike them at times.

When we got married, we had a 5 year plan to get a dog that delivered in about 1 year. I fell in love with our dog in two seconds and that was that. Amanda took longer to come around. She liked the dog, the dog was cute, or whatever, but she didn’t LOVE the dog until a few months on. It’s ok, don’t count that against my wife, thats how she fell in love with me too – she just takes time to process things.

The point here, really, is, Amanda fell in love with the dog. That is, she was open to something she didn’t really care for earlier in life and gained much happiness and joy as a result. It’s only natural, obviously, because dogs are awesome.

Later, we had a neighborhood cat who got injured and became an inside kitty. She was a feral cat, very wild and scared. I love our cat, I do, but man she can be a huge jerk. We have some other cats and her favorite game in the entire world is to stalk and hunt the other cats. There is no higher level of joy than to surprise one of her siblings and scare the shit of them. I dislike cats, obviously, because cats suck.

The only argument I’ve *ever* heard for cats has been that they’re easier to maintain – they manage themselves just fine and won’t eat themselves to death, they usually use the litter box, and so on. My counterargument is that unlike cats, dogs do not do anything out of malice. I’ll take a sweet dog with a trash can habit any day over a cat that’ll eye me funny and plan for a month of sadistic horrors after every vet visit.

For years I’ve been trying to convince my wife that cats are evil. After six years of marriage and a few more of dating, I realize now that trying to make the crazy cat lady dislike cats is impossible. I learned this from the ‘All marketers are liars’ book that mentioned how people believe what they want to believe and it’s nigh impossible to change that, no matter how irrational the belief.

I’d call our situation a standoff – I grow weary of cats attacking each other and anger-marking territory, and Amanda grows weary of me using internet pictures to convince her that cats are the devil. Ignore the fact that Amanda still loves the dog very much, that just makes her a better person than me.

My youngest brother is exhausting. He has everlasting go-go-go power. He’s getting married soon. He’s getting married while working a full time job, and doing an MBA program. He’s extremely busy, but he found about 15 minutes of spare time a week between wedding plans and school, which is good news. 15 minutes a week to relax, right? Nope, he decided to buy a house and work on that small project during those 15 minutes, for grins, I guess?

He’s high energy. Intimidating, super, high energy. Youth.

Steve Jobs has a famous quote/mantra about making every day count. This sounds excellent on paper. My brother actually lives this, the kid has plans until 2020 in spreadsheets, and spreadsheets to manage those spreadsheets.

In high school some of my buddies gave me a nickname of slacker. I resented the label, because it just didn’t fit! I’m an awesome guy, I like dogs, and I’m, awesome! Seeing my kid brother shoot for the stars without slowing down has shown me that my high school friends were completely right – I am a child.

My youngest brother, like my wife, believes cats are not evil. For whatever reason I’m surrounded by fools.

Meanwhile my brother’s fiance is awesome. Clearly out of everyone’s league by a factor of 10. Partly because she teaches calculus and enjoys it non-ironically. It’s going to be so nice having someone at my brother’s house who understands what an HDMI cable is. She’s also awesome because she likes dogs.

She has this cute little dog who’s super high energy and all he wants to do is ALL OF THE THINGS always. When we visit, he wants pets for precisely 5 seconds, then its time for fetch, then its time to run around outside, but in 2.5 minutes we need to come back in to the couch for pets again. The dog, like my brother, doesn’t waste any time.

For whatever reason, my brother is not a dog person. A future sci-fi brain scan will reveal a damaged area in his brain, but until then he’s just going to continue believing cats are worthwhile. He likes my dog for about 15 minutes to an hour every time he visits, then he’s done. He’ll waste the rest of his weekend visit trying to convince one of our three asshole cats to give a shit about him for 30 seconds, and go home disappointed – when our dog was ready to jump on his lap and wiggle around 24/7 the whole time. Cat people.

My brother likes his dog-by-marriage about like he likes our dog – in very small doses. The high energy jumping around and following him around is super annoying to him. It’s so sad, I’ll visit and the dog will be so happy to see me and my brother’s fiance – he’ll visit us for a minute and let us pet him, but he constantly watches my brother – he wants nothing else in the world more than playing fetch for 15 seconds then petting for 15 seconds and so on, forever, with my bro. I throw a ball for him, he grabs it, and takes it to the window to try and figure out how he can drop it at my brother’s feet.

Cat people.

My brother has been very vocal about his displeasure at owning a dog. This has been really upsetting to me, because I don’t have a leg to stand on to tell him to be nice. In some ways, my brother patterns after me, and after hearing the rants against dogs I only recently realized how often I’ve done the very same. Except, previously, when I ranted about cats, it was always a self-justified “blowing off steam” or “funny, right?” kind of thing. Being on the receiving end of these rants was not as funny as I thought it was all these years, and I’m surprised my wife has not punched me in the face for all of the anti-cat bullshit.

Seeing my brother follow in my footsteps with the anti-dog rants has been supremely frustrating – it’s like looking in the mirror, except the mirror shows the me I prefer to pretend nonexistent. What’s the saying, if you hate something, don’t you do it too?

I don’t think my wife will ever be a ‘dog person’, and I’m almost certain my brother won’t be. I’ve learned, finally, to accept that over the past few months – we are who we are, and part of who we are is our passions, our likes and dislikes.

So, I accepted it. Until brain-scans can properly diagnose cat people’s mental disorder, at least.

A funny thing about letting something go is that you free your brain up to spend a little less time wasting cycles on pointless pain. When you let it go, you’ve got another puzzle piece in place and you’ve got some time for something else. My brother’s way better than I at this, obviously, he and his dog use every 15 second window of time extremely efficiently.

That was something I noticed, actually – during my brief moment of not considering why cats are dumb. Instead, for a split second I considered my wife and brother’s point of views – why do they like cats so much? How can there be any benefit in the world to liking a cat? What was I missing?

I was considering this a few evenings ago when my wife met my brother’s new dog for the first time really. He was 10 times more wiggly than our dog and all over all of us – jumping back and forth manicly, he was in heaven. I loved it, and my wife was kind and friendly to him, but she didn’t ‘get it’. Dog’s jumping up and down in her lap just isn’t her thing. Shortly after this, I had to half-jokingly (i think?!) tell her not to kidnap my brother’s new cat as a carryon for her flight home.

Cat people.

While the dog was bouncing around, I mused to myself that my brother’s fiance must have a thing for high-energy types, what with the superman high-energy husband to be and his sidekick dog tornado.

It was that moment that caused everything to unwind in slow motion – like the end of ‘a day in the life’ – where everything starts coming out in reverse and speeding up all the while.

It was then that everything came to me in machine-gun fire: Wait, my brother is like the dog, super neurotic and high energy and demanding, and his fiance loves them both; my wife is like my dog – cool, calm, just wants to enjoy life and get along; my brother’s fiance is like his cat very friendly and affectionate to everyone (he’s actually a dog, i think..); and, wait for it.. I am just like my wife’s cats – aloof, independent, self-centered, mildly-self-sufficient, neurotic, and all of those other amazing qualities I think we can all agree are awesome in cats.

Cats are awesome, now that I think about it. Agreed? Good.

It took a long *long* time for me to realize that there can be pros and cons to everything, even yet-to-be-diagnosed brain disorders causing chronic affection for cats and other similar species of jerks.

If my wife wasn’t just how she is, super tolerant and patient with lost-cause feral animals and super-forgiving, then she wouldn’t have ever given me a chance, or a second chance, or another chance on a daily basis depending on my behavior at times. 🙂 Our cat/dog preferences are just a small component of the yin/yang experience we share. To change her love for cats would be to make her into someone fundamentally different than who she is, someone who quite possibly would not have been a perfect match for me. She’s a great partner for me, because she is a rare specimen who is both awesome and for some reason has just the right amount of brain damage to see aloof robot-like independent quirky neurotic immature me as marriage material.

I really should hug my wife more often, and be less of a goddamn cat.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see someone else’s point of view. We believe what we believe, and it’s very hard to change or see past those beliefs. This works beautifully evolutionarily speaking – if we see someone jump off a cliff and die, we quickly learn to believe that’s not a good idea for ourselves and we don’t bother challenging the belief. Belief is less fun when we disagree – in those times belief can behave as a cloud – a smoke screen making obvious truth invisible. When we set the smoke screen of belief aside, we open ourselves to the seeing a new and better version of the truth.