When people write about their pets, it’s usually their dog that shows up on the blog. Because if you write in detail about your cat, about the totally insightful way they look at things and the adorable idiosyncrasies shared between the two of you, people think you’re crazy.
So I’m not writing about my cat.
I’m writing about my Great Dane, Jimmy Page. He looks an awful lot like a cat, I know. But he insists he’s a dog and I don’t like to argue with him about it.
My boyfriend Jack and I got Jimmy from the Clark County Humane Society in late February or early March when he was eight months old, and we knew from the beginning he wasn’t going to be a normal cat. (For starters, they had him labeled as a girl and were calling him “Jessy,” but we noticed his, um, accoutrements and put a stop to that.) His tail is shaped just like a Tetris piece, and I prefer to believe he was born that way because I don’t want to think about someone slamming his tail in a door or hitting him with a car. I think somehow that incident, whatever it was, damaged his kitty identity, and Jim decided he would be a dog.
I believe that the main difference between cats and dogs is how they love. Cats sit far away for a while, looking at you when they don’t think you’re looking, sizing you up, testing to see if you’re a “cat person” before they decide to let you touch them. Dogs, on the other hand, meet you and love you; they jump up on your legs, panting and smiling and licking and begging for head scratches.
Ever since we met him, Jimmy’s been a licker. He’ll sit in your lap and lick your jeans, your hands, the couch under you– he’ll lick anything that sits still in front of his face. Unlike most other cats I’ve had (and I’ve had a fair few), Jim loved us from the get-go. He seemed so grateful to have a home with his own space, his own toys, and not one but two humans to love him.
Speaking of toys, my dog Jimmy fetches. He keeps his mousey beside his food dish, and when he gets restless we throw it, and he brings it right back. If his cat brain takes over for a minute and distracts him, you can say “Bring it here!” and he’ll remember what it is he’s supposed to be doing and bring the soggy mouse to your feet. And sit there. And lick you until you throw it again.
When our front door is open, Jim sits by the screen and watches everything that happens on 14th Street. The kitten likes to climb up to the top of the screen door and watch from up there, hanging on like a monkey, but Jimmy’s content to guard our home from the ground level. And when I get home from work every day, he’s there to tell me all about whatever he saw and how much he missed me and how I shouldn’t ever, ever leave again.
That’s the best thing about pets: how they love you, unstoppably, emphatically, without judgment. The feeling is even stronger when you rescue a shelter pet, because they need you even more. Some people think shelter pets are “damaged goods.” They think a shelter pet is unclean or inferior in some way, afflicted with diseases, disposition problems, or some other unspeakable stigma. It’s not true. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that Jimmy’s not your average cat, but he sure is a good dog.