Black and white in cat and dog fight


I found myself playing referee yesterday, standing in the middle of a cat and dog fight. The scrappers were not a dog and a cat, as you might suspect, but two humans with strong opinions on canine and feline superiority.
Back and forth. Bill said he believes all cats are born with hard-headed tendencies, basically equipped with a tiny little stone for a brain. He believes cats do not think, reason or care what anyone thinks of them.
Barb laughed and then rallied back with all sorts of evidence that cats certainly do know how to reason, and they care very much about all sorts of things, mostly themselves!
Bill said that while dogs keep watch over the people they love, cats keep their ears tuned only to such things as the sound of a tuna can opening.
Barb jokingly said only a cat is wise enough to reason that good food is about to be made available when that sound is heard. “A dog would snooze right through it!” she said with a grin.
Bill lobbed the biggest fire-fan of all when he said dogs are simply superior in every way.
“How can you SAY that?” Barb asked incredulously. “Have you ever heard of an innocent woman being mauled to death in her apartment hallway by a kitty-cat?”
I realized things were getting heated when Bill laughingly said, “Only because a cat would be too lazy to even think of expending such effort,” and Barb did not laugh in response. She didn’t grin. Not even close.
Both sides. Having grown up with lots of barn cats and a few dogs, I can vouch for the amazing instincts of both.
We had lots of cats that knew to hang around the calf pen when they heard us rattling feed buckets. I am certain these cats were sharp enough to smell the warm milk in those buckets, and they kept the faith that at least a little bit of that good stuff would end up in the tin feed pan, devoured before it could even cool to barn temperature.
We had one cat that figured out how to crawl in the milk hauler’s hose hatch whenever he wanted to sit on the warm stove in the milking parlor. He lifted the heavy outside hatch door by using his head and his front paws to crawl up and in. Getting back out was much easier, because the inside hatch flap was much lighter and had a hole the size of a large hose.
That same cat learned how to sneak in to the tractor cab and open the tiny latches on my dad’s dinner bucket. He would then flip the top open with his head, using his paws to help himself to a sandwich or cheese crackers. If they were peanut butter crackers, he would leave them alone.
He earned the name “Sherlock Holmes” as a smart cat, and a fussy cat at the same time. Dad learned to put his lunch in an Igloo cooler just to safeguard his sandwiches!
Wild. While cats provided infinite entertainment, some could never be tamed, and a few could really scare a fellow half to death. Try coming upon a wild cat with baby kittens out in a dark barn, and I can assure you, a nightmare is likely to invade your sleep that night! And, I’m sure the same could be said for wild dogs.
But, we had dogs right on par with Sherlock the cat in the wits department.
Bill could separate fat hogs from thin, and he knew when it was time to bring the cattle in from the pasture without being told. Chet knew how to secure lots of attention by pretending his paw still hurt, even a dozen years after it was caught in a trap, carrying on with a convincing wail when someone asked him about it. Chip could melt a heart by sitting up on her back haunches or rolling over on her back, playing dead.
So, in the canine versus feline referee department, I managed to do a pretty good job. I am proud to say the day ended with not a single black eye!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.