|Don't blame me - this is the picture that came with the article...!|
The news reported in Science magazine last week of the exquisite timing and elegant physics displayed by cats in their drinking habitshas reinforced once again the obvious truth that cats are superior to sloppy-go-lucky dogs, and no doubt to people as well, at least the ones with whom I drink water (and I include myself). And that very superiority and elegance is yet another reason to have a dog as a pet — if, that is, there is anything wanting in your personal eating or housekeeping habits.
A cat it seems, draws up a column of water with the tip of its tongue and bites off the top of the column just before it drops back (neatly, of course) into the dish. Dogs, well, dogs slurp. I don’t slurp, but I do spill. Water, soup, ham sandwiches — I can spill anything.
Once, in a business meeting I knocked over a full glass of diet soda. My colleague and friend, sitting right next to me, a man with whom I worked closely every day, a cat owner, said with a very audible whisper, “I would be sooo embarrassed.” As for general neatness of the sort that leads to respectable housekeeping, I will say only that once, in the office, after desperately searching various nooks and crannies for what smelled like a dead mouse, I gave up and decided to clean off the piles of paper on my desk. Halfway down one of the tumbling stacks was a dead mouse, apparently caught in a data avalanche.
It is true that if I had a cat in the office, the mouse would not have been foolish enough to risk trekking across the paper mountain. But I would have had to put up with the cat’s disdain. I won’t venture into the argument over the extent of animal consciousness except to say that I wouldn’t trust anyone who doubts that cats are capable of disdain.
I’m not anti-cat. I don’t share the view of another colleague that cats are “agents of Satan.” (He requested notoriety, not anonymity, but I feel I should protect him from himself.) But I do prefer dogs because they are more tolerant of my personal failings. If I spill soup, or a sandwich, or, in a kind of lunch-special combo, soup and a sandwich, on my tie or all over my lap, my dog looks at me and says (I am going to translate her looks and tail wags), “Don’t worry about it. I spill half my bowl every time I drink.”
If you have any doubts about which sort of pet is right for you, watch the researcher’s video of his cat drinking water. Observe the neatness and precision. Drink a glass of water yourself. How do you compare? How does that make you feel?
Then watch my dog, or any other, slurp water and then look up at you with a big happy smile as water cascades from her jowls to the floor. Take a sip of water yourself. How do you feel now?
Pretty good, I’ll bet. I rest my case.