I was talking with a co-worker of mine, and she mentioned how she makes a point not to fawn over her young children around people. She assumes–fairly so–that people may not care to hear stories of every little step and poopie and wall-drawing. If people want to talk about her kids, they’ll bring them up, and she’s happy to oblige with stories. But she’s a person, distinct and individual of her kids, and she recognizes the separation.
I’d love for animal people to heed that example.
I try not to fawn over my cats when I have company over. (Greg, alas, is regrettably guilty of this.) I love them, and they do weird, interesting stuff, but I generally assume that people don’t care to know about every hair they’ve shed, every skin infection they’ve fought, or how miserable my cats are when we take them to the vet. Hell, I even get annoyed when people come to my house and won’t leave the cats alone. It’s grown-up time. Let the cats go be cats.
If someone doesn’t like cats, I’ll lock them away for the time they’re over. Cats do not trump guests, by and large. If folks want to talk about them, sure, I’ll tell how annoying it is to get Greg-the-cat to lose weight, or how they absolutely will not, can not shut the hell up at feeding time. But when I invite people over for dinner or games, I don’t expect them to pay the least amount of attention to my cats other than to not step or sit on them.
Other folks don’t extend that same courtesy.
Here are two things certain types of animal lovers don’t really get about their animals:
- Animals are gross.
- Animals are distinct and individual beings that don’t require constant attention.
I’ve discovered a new, nausea-inducing phenomenon in the last three years of having cats: the slurping sound of a cat or dog grooming. There are few day-to-day things more disturbing to my peace of mind than waking up out of a dead sleep at 02:30 in the morning to schrlp-schrlp-schrlp. It doesn’t matter if they’re licking their paws or their butts. F’ing gross.
Your dog, wanting to put its tongue in my mouth, hump my leg, drool on me, or share my dinner? Gross.
Your cat, wanting to add its hair to the distinctiveness of my own, put its hairy toys on me, or share my dinner? Gross.
Sometimes I allow these things. (Well, not the humping.) They’re still gross.
Not Helpless Creatures
I’ve been at houses where conversation between people couldn’t flow on account of every movement the animal made being cause for diversion. “*gasp*! Is she hungry? Oh, look, she’s having water! Did we feed her today? Maybe we gave her a little less food. Feed her again! Go find her toy, she’s looking for her toy. Hurry, go get it! Okay, so what were we talking about?”
Your animal, apparently.
Animals can exist without constant attention, barring illness or being differently-abled. It’s not animal cruelty or neglect to let them be them for a while. Every animal I’ve ever had–all 10 cats and dogs–has been far more bearable for being taught how to go amuse themselves at times. Like when it’s time for grown-up conversation. Or video games.
I like that there are people in the world with huge hearts who so thoroughly love their animals, but these folks don’t always realize that not everyone else does, too. Live and run your house like you want to, but don’t be surprised if I’m ducking out fairly quickly or holding your animal at leg’s distance.
Aside: Still raising money for the 5k!