2018-03-14 / Editorials

Cat owners be wary

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

I’m a dog person. You know that. Milly, the liver and white springer spaniel who lives at my house, has been living here for four years this week.

I know some of you disagree, but dogs are better than cats. I like when Milly meets me at the door and reacts like she hasn’t seen me in six months, even if all I did was go outside to check the mail.

On the other hand, when you come home to a cat, it glances at you with a look of disdain that says, “Oh, it’s you. When’s dinner?”

I’ve never really been comfortable around cats. They tend to be a little snooty, a little narcissistic. They don’t want to chase a tennis ball. And they don’t like to go swimming in the lake. Moreover, I also get the feeling that when a cat looks at me, it’s plotting one of the many ways it would like to kill me.

Sounds silly, you say? Tell that to researchers at the University of Georgia and National Geographic. The researchers strapped tiny cameras on a bunch of house cats (and if you know anything about cats, you know the cats were thrilled about that). Then the researchers watched the Kitty Cam (Hey, that’s what they called it) to see what the cats did.

They also made Kitty Cam available to the rest of us to watch, because, I suppose, there’s not already enough bad programming on network TV these days.

What did the research find? Well, it found that little Snowball is a killing machine. One in three of the cats killed prey. Those that killed averaged more than two kills per week. Researchers believe the cats didn’t kill because the prey looked delicious. Instead, the cats killed the prey and left it to rot. Moreover, researchers believe that owners see less than a quarter of the kills their cats make.

Perhaps little Snowball should be renamed Guido.

Still not convinced? Then consider research from the University of Edinburgh and the Bronx Zoo. In this study, researchers psychoanalyzed domesticated house cats and their wilder brethren — leopards, wildcats and African lions. The study found that all cats have strikingly similar personality traits, such as dominance, impulsiveness and neuroticism.

Little Snowball, it seems, is as dominant, impulsive and neurotic as animals that want to maim and kill you. Good luck getting a good night’s sleep now that you know the little furball next to you is plotting your death.

While this research is fascinating, I also realize that not every house cat is a psychopath plotting world domination. There are sweet cats, playful cats, even cats that I might enjoy spending time around.

I also realize that Milly, on more than one occasion, has attempted to chase a squirrel or a goose. Of course, Milly is no killing machine. The fact is, she’s a big chicken. Once when we were at the lake, she attempted to chase a goose, who not only stood its ground, it started flapping its wings and running at Milly.

The next time I saw Milly, she was in the front seat of the car, honking the horn for me to take her home.

And the cat research isn’t without flaws. If one in three cats kill prey, that means that two-third don’t.

Still, I suggest you cat owners be wary the next time Snowball wants to cuddle. She might have something more devious in mind.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/mitch.

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