By Tim Mollen
Journal entry: October 20, 2004 (age 35)
During the final Bush-Kerry debate, my cat, Shilo, deposited a hairball on my Scooby-Doo mouse pad. With this symbolic, gustatory gesture, she simultaneously expressed her abhorrence of mice, politics and Casey Kasem. Oh, and dogs, of course. I commented to my wife, Amanda, that if we had a dog, it would have better things to do, like make love to the furniture. This set off a lengthy conversation on the comparative merits of dogs and cats. The rhetoric ran its course around the third time I said, “Yeah, but Garfield’s fat.”
To move the debate into the realm of hard science, we decided to conduct a controlled study of cat and dog behavior. I called up a friend and asked if we could borrow his dog for the weekend. The dog is a beautiful, 200-pound bull mastiff. For the purposes of this column, we will call him “Sir Poopsalot.” He’s a good boy. Yes he is! Such a good boy. Our three cats competed in an elimination round of arm-wrestling, and Shilo channeled her hatred of all things canine into a berth in the title round of the competition. The following is a breakdown of the individual events.
Both contestants were able to navigate the makeshift labyrinth we created in the back yard. Sir Poopsalot took a lot longer, but only because he stopped to live up to his name every 5 feet or so. He performed slightly better than Shilo on the vocabulary test, though, recognizing an impressive 43 synonyms for food. Shilo knew almost all of the same synonyms, but hadn’t advanced to Sir P’s level of recognizing spelled-out words spoken one letter at a time, as in “D…I…N…N…E…R.”
We placed both pets in a playroom with a relative’s twin toddlers, and let the kids play with and pet the hapless animals to the point where most creatures would lose their patience and take a chomp out of one of the youngsters. That didn’t happen, but Shilo did become visibly agitated when she was forced to wear a floppy sun hat and a pink tank top.
LICKING OF ONESELF
This is a natural behavior for both cats and dogs. But the relative frequency, volume and practicality of the act mark the difference between it being barely noticeable and highly annoying. Shilo’s licking behavior was more frequent, but it was relatively quiet, and it seemed to be for the purpose of maintaining good hygiene. She went over her entire coat with meticulous precision (and immediately began eying my Scooby-Doo mouse pad again, I’m sorry to say). Sir Poopsalot, on the other hand, paid somewhat too much attention to one particular area of his coat. His shameless hedonism eventually lost him points, but he seemed to enjoy himself nonetheless.
Despite Sir Poopsalot’s triple word score when he added “anti” to the front of Shilo’s “disestablishmentarianism,” the cat proved far too verbal and cutthroat for her mangy competitor. To ensure her victory, Shilo cheated several times by suddenly looking towards the window like a squirrel was there, and stealing tiles when Sir Poopsalot turned to look.
So cats emerged victorious, validating our continuing purchases of scratching posts, “extra-clumpable” litter and low-carb catnip. But dog owners can take heart in the fact that all of the events described above are completely fictitious. Just like the presidential debates!