Of Cats and Dogs

People are usually either dog people or cat people. I happen to be both, though I lean a bit more towards cats. Both are intelligent, and can be trained. The belief that cats are aloof is a myth, in my opinion. The five we have are all personable, and three of them actually know and obey commands. (The older two used to, but have entered a new stage of life…) We held and handled all of them from kittens. They are people cats. My second oldest, at 16, is on my lap as I type.

I think cats stand off for some simple reasons, aside from being trained to do so by abusive owners, or people with few clues. It has to do with build and risk.

Cats can be fearsome creatures when convinced they need to fight. With 8 primary hooked claws, designed to penetrate and anchor, cats can gaff and hook at will. Their two “thumbs” are even more powerful, with heavier claws. If any three, plus a thumb get engaged, the victim must work hard to get free. It is their choice to decide if the victim is left with holes or shredded flesh from the tearing claws. Their four fangs can be very large in comparison to their mouths, which some can open to about 150 degrees. A cat’s flexibility, strike speed, fangs and claws, and power per pound can save them from death by sheer vicious force. A growl is one thing. The death attack is quite another.

Even with their ability to quickly deal punishment, they instinctively know they are vulnerable. Cats are fragile. Light bones can be broken or crushed. Soft undersides can be bitten through. Necks can be snapped. This knowledge is what holds many confrontations at the growl and intimidation point. The bigger cat hopes the smaller will back down, because the small cat can do severe damage while being punished.

This defensive action is present during confrontation with other cats, dogs, coons, coyotes and people. When faced with strangers, they will look for two avenues of escape, and perhaps for a vertical way out, too. Cats that have been trained to deal with dogs and people, knowing that there can be good, will be less apt to disappear in the presence of new faces. Summing it up, cats can deal it out, and generally will do so first and with great energy because the have to.

Dogs, though, will get into a fight and stick it out unless they are getting severely punished. They can deal out damage, and take it, too. Still, they can be shut down with a cat swipe to the eye ball, or nose. Torn open lips will also do the trick. You could say the cat’s motto is “Do unto other before they do unto you.” A dog will say “Do unto others, and keep doing it…”

These natural truths define cats and dogs in many ways. They also have relevance to us. Some people are natural fighters. Others prefer to walk away from confrontation. Personalities, body build, experience… all these and more set the basic mode for everyone. Preppers will check their inner tendencies and make adjustments to compensate. Cat people will take precautions, and outfit themselves with defenses suited to the environment they expect. Dog types tend to push their way through problems, and escalate quickly, but without the force and speed of cat people. (I know – this is getting strange. It’s late, and I’m on a weird ride…) Both can be your “best friend”.

It is important to understand your pets. I know so much more about cats now, than I did just three years ago. I can read them pretty well, understand what they want or fear, and relate to their lives day by day. Dogs are so much easier. Maybe I like the challenge of getting through to a cat, and sitting with that tiny tiger.

It is also important to understand your friends, prepper or not. Each is unique, even within a given class. Take time to learn people, understand what drives them and cut slack when needed. All of us “fit” into certain types. Sometimes. All of us depart from the norm, too. Relationships take time, effort, understanding and energy. When we think we know it all, we then begin to fall from a position of character, and can rapidly descend into a place we don’t expect – just to discover that we are animals at heart when the pressure has grown and our worlds have been shaken. Now is the time to understand, care and give of ourselves for the benefit of our circles.

Are you a cat person? A dog type? Or do you not give a dog-gone? Even if you don’t know, those around you might be studying you. I hope they are friends….

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