Cats, the manipulators we love

Houston McLauryOpinion Columnist

Over this wonderful spring break, and my trip back to my hometown, I did my best to relax. Endless afternoons wasted on rest, endless mornings spent scrolling through feeds until my thumb was sore from the excessive pull and weight from the brick I carried with me each day. But, what I was most grateful to have had over this break was the opportunity to be reminded of one of the best creatures on this planet: the average house cat. Many forms of media, be it books, TV shows, movies, or any form in between, show that cats can be flighty and unloving towards their human companions. And while this may be the case for some cats, I think that a major aspect of cats that is rarely discussed or shown in the media is how they humble and train humans in their own way, compared to a dog who cannot show disdain, as a cat does to its companion. I have come to this conclusion through my own behavioral changes thanks to the influence of my two cats at home; Sirius, a black cat, and Nox, a tabby cat. I then compared these two specimens to my experience with my dog Norman. 

The first thing to cover is the way in which these creatures walk when we are around. For a dog, and especially for my dog that is an immovable force, there is no worry of tripping on the creature. Sure, my dog can stand at inopportune angles, like in front of doors, the refrigerator, or in front of a chair. And once he does this, one must exert all their energy into ensuring he moves, either by goading him with an offering or by grabbing one of his chew toys to tempt him away. All in all, when a dog is walking next to you, or in a certain spot, there is no worry of tripping on them or trouble in moving them because you can always tempt them away. 

Meanwhile, there is my cat Nox. Nox will weave his way through your feet as you walk to the front or back door, meowing and rubbing against your leg as you walk, begging to be let outside. He will do this up the stairs, down the stairs, whether I’m holding a heavy box of Easter decorations, or I’m desperately trying not to fall on him, he will do this no matter what. And this is where they get you, if you trip on them as you walk this way and that, they do not hang their heads in shame. No, no, these prideful beasts instead turn on you, blaming you for not looking to ensure there’s an opening to take a step forward without ruffling the fur on their backs. These cats will turn on you and treat you like an outsider in your own house, ignoring you for hours on end while you seek to amend your missteps and misdeeds. Because of this, I have learned to walk slower, look down while I’m walking, and hold heavier objects to ensure I don’t accidentally cross paths with my cats. Both Nox and Sirius do this often, and because of this, I have had to change my behavior to ensure their safety and well-being.

There is another aspect in which cats use their tiny bodies to manipulate and train their human companions, mainly when they sleep. For a dog, if you call its name or whistle, it will most likely move from a spot and allow room for you. And while it may take multiple attempts if the dog is sleeping, this is still an easy and surefire way to move a dog. For cats, however, they don’t move so easily. They don’t respond to the call of their name or a whistle. Instead, one must tempt them with food, or move them by hand. My cat Sirius has a specific spot on the couch he loves to sit and sleep in, which is the center cushion. No one can lay on the couch, or sit on the center cushion, for fear of ensuring his wrath. The cat is unmovable unless one dares to move him, in which case he meows a pathetic meow, making the mover believe that they are committing the greatest of sins by moving him. In this way, the cat manipulates the human companion, by toying with their emotions and doing a cuter meow than they normally do. 

Yet, this does not mean cats do not have their charm. I love my cats dearly, and although most of my nights were spent wide awake thanks to my cat shifting and moving around my bed, laying down closer and closer to me until my back was pressed against the wall, I cannot deny that I love my cats. Both of them are wonderful companions that have manipulated me to their fullest extent. Cats, in truth, may be cold and obnoxious and silly, but that is the exact reason why I, and so many other people, love them. 

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