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Why Cats Matter

A cat owner's thoughts on the importance of cats

By Jen SullivanPublished 12 months ago 6 min read
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Sadie's Eyes; photo by Jen Sullivan

“Cats do not give us too many chances. Abuse a cat’s trust twice and you could be history, for cats are much less forgiving than dogs and will often lose their trust in you should you behave badly. A dog gives you infinite slack; not so a cat.”

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

I’ve had cats for 41 years. I got my first cat when I was three and have had one ever since. I cannot imagine life without a cat, a warm companion to purr next to you or, if you are lucky, in your lap.

Usually, we have had more than one cat at a time in our household. You cannot have just one cat in most situations. I’ve had cats that were friends, cats who tolerated other cats, and cats who simply hated each other. Right now I have three, two of which are buddies and the third who has mixed feelings about her housemates.

It has been years since I sought out a cat or kitten, letting them find me instead. My current three are each unique with their own stories.

Loki Outside; photo by Jen Sullivan

Loki (17) was born into a feral cat colony in April 2005, but was bottle-fed from early on, making him social and trusting of most humans. He and his five siblings needed homes — I took him, the caretaker kept two, and my dad ended up taking the other three.

DiNozzo the Goofball; photo by Jen Sullivan

DiNozzo (10) was found in a trailer park at around four months of age by local rescue group PAWS of PA. He was adopted from them through PetSmart Charities in February 2013. He has some psychological issues and is under the impression that cats are meant to be proper, neat, and clean.

Sadie's Fluffy Belly; photo by Jen Sullivan

Sadie (4) showed up one day on my patio and decided to live there, claiming my garden as her space. She was hungry, flea infested, suffering from ear mites, and starving for attention. We guessed she was abandoned, and after a few days, had her vet checked and made her a housecat. Unbeknownst to us, she was not done growing and became a massive Maine Coon mix with weight issues.

In the past, we looked for cats when we wanted a new one, whether in the newspaper or by spreading the word to friends, family, and co-workers that we were looking for a kitten.

But why do so many of us feel such a strong connection with cats? Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog very much. My spoiled 45-pound princess who gets almost anything she wants because, truthfully, she’s a great dog who deserves it. She only loves Loki, preferring to keep her distance from the unpredictable DiNozzo and mostly just ignoring Sadie, unhappy that we allowed another “fluff ball with claws” to live in the house.

Over the years I have met many people who claimed they hated cats. I even have a relative who is one of those people who thinks it’s funny to joke about killing cats. Of the people I’ve known who just did not like cats, at least half changed their mind after meeting a cat, especially if that cat was my Loki.

So why does this happen? My theory after witnessing these changes is that a lot of people were under the impression that cats are not affectionate. That cats just live in a house and want nothing to do with their humans. That cats somehow think they are better than us and look down on us as pathetic creatures.

Buddies; photo by Jen Sullivan

Maybe some cats might come across this way, especially ones who are super spoiled and whose humans let them do anything they want. Realistically, cats are not capable of the level of prejudice we humans comprehend. They react to actions, smells, sight, and so on. If a cat hates you, chances are you did something to deserve that hate.

So why do we love them so much? I think the answer is simple: they are there for us. They entertain us and cuddle with us. Maybe they are doing that for their own benefit, like to stay warm on those cold winter nights, but we still benefit from it. They provide companionship and they can help us live a healthier life, giving us something to care about and to help us de-stress from our hectic workday. There is also speculation that their purr can help to heal us, and a scientific study even concluded that humans who had cats are less likely to die from cardio vascular diseases.

You have probably watched a cat video at one point online. By nature, cats are entertaining creatures. Their curiosity can cause them to get into some hilarious predicaments, and their seemingly strong need to knock things off of tables and counters makes for a good laugh. Realistically, and from my personal experience, cats get into trouble when they are bored. They like to be challenged, both physically and mentally, and I think that is one area where a lot of cat owners fall short.

Some breeds are naturally more intelligent and will get into more trouble if they have nothing to do. This was definitely true of my Loki when he was younger, and there are times when my Sadie likes to push those boundaries more than Loki ever did. Other cats prefer physical challenges over mental stimulation. My DiNozzo, for example, enjoys physical exercise over puzzles and sees the staircase as good space for afternoon sprints. Unlike the other two, he is perfectly happy kicking around the same toy, his favorite being the catnip banana from Chewy.

DiNozzo; photo by Jen Sullivan

Years ago, I was trying to convince my mom we needed a dog. So many people made the argument that dogs were harder to take care of or that they are so much more work than cats. I respectfully disagree.

It is so much easier to clean up after my dog than to change the cat litter. The dog is eager to go to the vet, versus the cats who hide, scratch, bite, and fight to go in and come out of their carriers. The dog is content just playing with her ball or going to the park, versus the cats who like to knock things over when they are bored, breaking whatever they want. The dog will not get into things she shouldn’t and understands the command “leave it,” versus the cats who try to eat plastic because it makes a crinkly sound, even though you thought you put it far out of their reach.

No, dogs are easier…by far.

Then there is the argument that a dog will defend your family and a cat will not. I have a “Warning: Attack Cat” sign on my front window for a reason. Yes, it was a fun Halloween decoration I picked up at PetSmart, but it is much more than that. My sweet little DiNozzo can turn rather nasty if he thinks you are a threat. Roughhouse with the dog and you risk a cat screaming at you as he comes running with his claws. That cat has even alerted us to a roof leak and I’ve seen him get the dog riled up to growl at people outside.

Then there are the fireworks over the summer… Neither DiNozzo nor Sadie like it when loud noise disrupts the household or upsets the dog. Sadie is likely to growl and run toward the window, looking for the source that is creating fear in the dog. Meanwhile, DiNozzo is protecting his dog and trying to make her feel safe.

There is no doubting one fact: cats are just awesome.

The real reason why I think we like cats so much is because they can be indifferent, affectionate, and hilarious all in a matter of minutes. They can go from being super moody to wanting to cuddle in seconds. And when they decide they do want to cuddle, we feel that we are special because we are chosen. This is even more significant when you have an anti-social cat who avoids people. When my DiNozzo was still new to our household, if he wanted to cuddle with me, it felt as if I was chosen to accept a super-secret quest that would lead to a legendary treasure.

So watch funny cat videos and appreciate cats for the wonderful companions that they are. If you’ve never had a cat, what are you waiting for? They are the magical beings that create happiness and joy…that is when they want to do so. The rest of the time they can be real jerks. It’s still totally worth it.

Originally published on Medium on August 15, 2022.

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About the Creator

Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a gardener, among many things. I have a lot of knowledge and opinions to share with the world, along with creations from my chaotic mind.

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