Our Pets Trained Us Well!

In regard to cats, you may feed the felines, clean their litter boxes, keep them in your house and pay their medical expenses, but let's get one thing straight regarding the relationship between cats and humans. You do not own them. They own you. We have in our house three cats, one dog and two human beings. I purposefully put the human beings last on the list, because it delineates the real chain of command. Having the biggest brains and bodies doesn't mean anything to cats. And when you start seeing things from their point of view, the whole top-of-the-food-chain argument is laughable. I know when those three thugs communicate among themselves that the word "owner" prompts uncontrollable hysteria. The relationship is akin to maids or butlers, the hired help, ordering around the rich people who pay them. However, maids and butlers are remunerated for their services. Whereas, humans who "own" cats simply pay dearly for caring about the most ruthless, obnoxiously demanding, self-centered creatures of this planet. If you own cats and think you are in charge, you are ether deeply in denial or trying to defend yourself for being so involved in such a lopsided relationship. Our dog is much different than the cats. The dog actually shows open appreciation toward our efforts to fulfill her needs. She seeks our approval, love and companionship. She truly wants to please us. She is visibly disturbed if we are angry with her. She won't even eat until she knows that we are pleased. Now that is how animals are supposed to act. Our cats think the dog is nearly as foolish as us for displaying such behavior. I say nearly because the cats have learned to use the dog to increase their own benefits package. It is somewhat like a labor-management negotiation where one department gets an additional benefit so the other department gets it too. Every time we reward the dog for going outside in the yard to go to the bathroom, the cats line up around her for their treat too. Fearfully, we comply with their demand due to fear of retribution. We opt to not risk having the living room smell like their litter boxes. Tony Soprano might call this a protection payment or an assurance-policy premium. We know better than to mess with it. Our most obnoxious cat is also considered crippled, because his hind legs are not 100 percent functional. But what this black cat lacks in mobility it more than makes up for with the ability to moan louder than a lion. This cat's tone is so loud a deaf person would be able to sense its vibrations. The constant howling is so grating it would prompt the pope to curse worse than an angry NHL player. If this cat were human, it would summarily be punched out or shot. And when you complain about this poor, little crippled cat's behavior, people think you are heartless. If you took it to the animal pound, you would get pelted with stones before you reached the door. So, we are stuck with this black devil forever. It all began so innocently. It is even touching. Approximately four years ago, my wife worked as a vet tech in an animal hospital, where this little bundle of joy was found mangled on the streets and was recovering from surgery. Every day the mercurial little manipulator caught my wife's attention by purring and acting cute. So she brought the poor, crippled cat home and said she was going to be a foster parent till someone adopted him. The feline-Satan incarnate has been with us ever since. I know he is going to outlive us--and then move on and terrorize another household. That cat is probably a couple thousand years old. Twice daily, sometimes beginning as early as 4:30 a.m., he moans to be fed. It is like having a police car with a blaring siren driving through your house. What makes it even worse is that the cat's demanding tone inspires the other two cats to whine too. The dog has recently joined the trio. But we still can flash a scowl her way and she shuts up. But I know that is not going to last much longer. That little, black monster is cunning too. Last year we brought a 60-pound greyhound home, because I am a glutton for punishment who lacks the gumption to just say no to my wife. That is how our household expanded to three cats, one dog and two humans. The other two cats immediately attempted to push the dog around. Generally, greyhounds are shy and submissive animals. The other two cats couldn't believe their luck. At first, the big dog was actually afraid of them. However, the evil one, sensing an opportunity, from the beginning befriended the nervous dog. A few months passed and the dog no longer feared the cats. Actually, she now knows how to scare them with a quick bark and a little stomping. However, the little crippled cat is the dog's best friend. The dog actually lets "Damian" have the doggie bed, while she lies on the floor next to it. The other cats do not mess with the crippled cat because if they do, they know the dog will jump into the fray. This cat's manipulative skills make Machiavelli look angelic. The cats no longer view the greyhound as a fool, but we still retain that status in the cats' minds. Like I stated previously, we clean their soiled litter boxes, feed them and pay their medical expenses. They treat us like dirt by shredding carpets, scratching furniture and whining excessively when they want something. When we yell at them for doing something wrong, they possess the temerity to display anger toward us. When wild animals figure out what cats already know, humans are in a lot of trouble. That is the real reason we keep our cats in the house. Because if they got out and spread the word, humans--with the exception of the few "token thumbs" who would be spared during the transitional period--would no longer be purposeful.