What’s a Mother to Do?
by Ann Edwards Cannon

Chapter 28
Why I Truly Believe that Cats Are as Stupid as Dogs 

[p.85]After many years of thinking deeply about this sort of thing, I have decided that the world is divided into two types of individuals: (a) dog people and (b) cat people.

People who prefer dogs to cats can be identified by the following traits:

1. They leap on you when you walk through the front door.
2. They jump up on your furniture.
3. They hang their heads out the window when you take them for drives in your car.
4. Their feet twitch when they dream about chasing rabbits.
5. They circle other dog people when they meet in such public places as malls and so forth.

People who prefer cats, on the other hand, can be identified by a single characteristic—i.e., they think they’re better than you are, especially if you have dogs.

Indeed, cat people are very fond of telling everybody that (a) dogs are stupid and (b) cats are smart. The proof they offer for this observation is that, whereas a dog will do what you tell it to do, a cat never will.

Cats have minds of their own, don’t you know.

Frankly, I have a very difficult time grasping the logic of this argument. It’s like saying people who run red lights are actually smarter than people who don’t because they’re too independent to follow the rules. I went to high school with a girl who routinely ran red lights, and I can promise you that hardly anybody thought this was a sign of high intelligence on her part.

No, I believe cats refuse to do what you tell them to do BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO DENSE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Now before you cat-lovers out there take umbrage all over the place, I want to make it perfectly clear that I my-[p.86]self am very fond of cats. I like them at least as much as I like dogs. It’s just that I also happen to think they’re at least as dumb as dogs although still smarter than cows. I have arrived at this conclusion after spending years in the company of cats.

I’ve always had at least one cat at any given time, and often I’ve had more. In fact, my mother’s greatest fear is that I’ll turn into one of those old ladies with long gray braids and no teeth who has so many stray cats living at my place that A Current Event will show up to do a story on me, which will cause all the neighbors to whisper and make mock, thereby forcing my family members to hang their heads in shame and eventually leave town.

The point I’m trying to make is that I have had enough experience with cats to support my views concerning their general intelligence level which I personally do not believe to be high. For instance, when we were kids one of our daily jobs was to follow my dad out to the station wagon and gather up all the kittens, whose names were usually (a) Fred and (b) Barney after the cartoon characters, so that he could back out of the driveway without mowing them down. The reason he worried about running them down was that every time the kittens heard an engine start up, they ran for cover underneath the car!

You could see them look at each other, their eyes wide with terror, whenever they heard my dad start the car.

“Oh no!” they squealed at each other. “It’s THE NOISE again! Better hide beneath the car!”

Meanwhile they clawed and scratched and bit my brothers and me because we prevented them from seeking safe refuge.

This was not the only experience that led me to believe that cats aren’t as bright as everybody says they are. My girlfriend Elise had a Siamese cat named Booby while we were growing up who used to try to go outside by walking through a plate glass window. Since I myself once accidentally attempted to walk through a plate glass window at Trolley Square, I can testify from direct personal experience that it doesn’t work. Also nobody gives you a badge telling you how smart you are after you’ve tried it. Mostly people just stand around staring at you with their mouths wide open while feeling sorry for your caretaker and so forth.

At present we have one cat residing with us. Her name is Cleo, and she spends most of the day chasing her various body parts around [p.87]the room. Sometimes she chases her tail, sometimes she chases one of her hind legs. Every now and then she catches herself with sharp little teeth, which causes her to yelp and pout.

“Can you believe it?” she whines when I walk into the room. “Like, I was just minding my own business, and, like, somebody actually crept up from behind and bit me.” She flips her bangs out of her eyes.

“I’m very sorry to hear that,” I say. “Will it make you feel better if we go to the mall together?”

Yes, she purrs, that would be very nice, although she isn’t really sure she wants to be seen in public with me.

Would I mind very much, she asks, if I walk ten paces behind her?