Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cat or Dog?

“You look like a dog person,” the barista said taking my order.
“I love dogs,” I said handing her cash.
“I can always tell a dog person.”
“Dog people are good people.”
“What’s your dog’s name?”
“Uh, I have a cat.”


Before buying The House, whenever I longed for a pet, I pictured a dog because as everyone knows—including the barista at the local coffee shop—I’m a dog person. But that didn’t happen. Instead I agreed to adopt a large adult cat—I’d never met—who suffered from Narcolepsy, a Decadent Life Disorder and Shedding Hair Everywhere Syndrome. Needless to say, adopting him sight unseen was a recipe for disaster or at least the textbook definition of how not to get a pet. But felines aren’t stupid. There’s a reason they were considered gods in ancient Egypt and it wasn’t just because they liked pyramids. 

Sooner or later cats understand what type of person you are. After living with us for 466 days, Jackson had discovered what the barsita knew in 1.6 seconds: I was a dog person. So a funny thing has happened to our feline. He’s become more… canine. 

When Jackson first came to us he slept on a chair, a sofa, the trĂ©s soft chaise longue. If the surface weren’t fluffy and stuffed with down feathers fit for the Princess and the Pea, it wasn’t soft enough for him. In short: he was a decadent softie with an oversleeping problem. Now I love furniture but even I like to eschew the softer surfaces and sit on the floor. There’s something about sitting on the floor and watching a movie that makes take-out Indian food taste better. Jackson must have felt the same way because soon he started sitting on the floor, too, which is just what a dog would do.

As soon as he arrived in The House, Jackson claimed a chair in the spare bedroom as his nighttime sleeping perch. This differed from his sleeping spots in the morning (living room chair), afternoon (sofa) and evening (chaise longue). But that too has changed. Now he sleeps on the floor beside the bed, just like a loving dog who's a girl's best friend. Lying there he’s ready to awaken when I do and ready to sleep whenever he wants to, which is still 76 hours a day. 

Finally the other night after dinner, Mr. Wonderful and I settled in to do important things like read comics and watch dancing cat videos when I noticed Jackson staring out the sliding glass door, transfixed. Suddenly a raccoon appeared just on the other side of the glass. And not just any old raccoon but the meanest, toughest-looking creature the size of a border collie, a bear, Bigfoot! As the raccoon peered in at us rubbing its little hands together in anticipation, Jackson leapt to his feet and just inches away charged the varmint. Jackson’s head slammed into the closed sliding glass door but that didn’t stop him. Our cat charged the raccoon again and again smashed his head against the glass.

“Jackson’s protecting us.” I said to my spouse. “Just like a dog!” 
“If he wants get at the raccoon we should let him,” Mr. Wonderful said unlocking the sliding glass door. 
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Mr. Wonderful opened the slider anyway, which made Jackson turn on his heels and scamper under the sofa. Meanwhile the raccoon, bored with two talkative humans, waddled off to wherever raccoons go. 
I closed the sliding glass door.
“I guess our cat isn’t much of a dog after all,” my spouse said.
“Or maybe he’s smart enough to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em?” 
Hmmm.

Back in the coffee shop when “Green Tea Latte!” was called, I retrieved it from the bar and noticed the barista had given my drink an extra flourish—a picture of a dog in warm milk foam! The man next to me noticed it, too, and said,
“Cool. What’s the name of your dog?”
“Jackson,” I said with a smile. “And I love it when he purrs.” The man gave me an odd look. But I didn’t have time to explain—I had to go see this girl’s best friend.