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Summit Up

Special to the Daily

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column obsessed with cats and happiness.We know the High Country is a dog world, but we recently heard something about cats that got us thinking.Everyone who’s ever lived with a cat knows they do pretty much what they want. Some optimists claim that cats can be trained. We disagree. When we see cats jumping through hoops on television, we know in our heart of hearts that they’re only doing it because they WANT to. They’ve actually trained their humans to hold the hoops, etc. Dog people just don’t get it. If your dog has a habit you don’t like, you train him to stop. If the dog pees in the living room, for example, you say, “Bad boy,” withhold your doting affection for a few minutes and buy some treats to give him every time he holds it long enough to get out the door before he lets loose.

Cats aren’t like that. If you want a cat to stop peeing in the living room, you have to figure out what the cat wants. What’s the cat missing in his life? How can you make the cat more comfortable? It’s amazing, really. It doesn’t take long for a mere 9 or 10-pound animal to take over the whole house.Then again, if you WANTED the cat to pee in the living room, he wouldn’t do it. He’d hold it until it came out his little ears.We think this essential feline orneriness is somehow related to the way cats just seem to know intuitively who’s allergic to them. If there are ten people in a room, including six cat-lovers, most cats will unerringly jump in the lap of the person present who hates them the most. We’d compare this behavior to the type described in books like “Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them,” except that cats don’t seem to be looking for love at all. They just want to steer clear of anyone who might need anything from them.Contrast this behavior with that of dogs. Dogs actually LIKE “dog people.” Cesar Milan, the “dog whisperer,” reportedly walks up to 40 obedient dogs at a time without using any leashes. Sheesh! Can you imagine doing that with cats?True cat people don’t expect special attention from cats they meet. They know a cat that needs human validation is probably a cat that should be on medication.

To a cat person, much of dog behavior verges on outlandish farce. The slavish adoration visible in the average golden retriever’s face when his “owner” comes home from work is almost unbelievable. It’s like something you’d see in grand opera.Milan cautions his fellow humans to take all that adoration with a grain of salt. It isn’t healthy, he says, for people to seek canine love to the exclusion of human relationships. It may be okay for the dogs, but it’s ultimately unrewarding for the humans.Cat people don’t run those kinds of risks. A cat is much more likely to stick its butt in its owner’s face than it is to gaze at him adoringly.This brings us back to our original thought. We heard an interesting comparison between cats and happiness.

Happiness is like a cat, we heard. We can call our cat. We can beg our cat to come, but we might as well be looking for mushrooms in Death Valley. It’s only when we finally give it up and say, “To Hell with the damn cat!” that we might feel the light brush of fur against our ankles.And when we reach a point that we really don’t care about the cat at all and we’ve sat down on the couch to ease our loneliness with a bowl of ice cream and the TV remote – that’s when the contrary feline jumps in our lap.Happiness is like that. It only shows up when we stop calling for it.***It’s Sunday folks, and we’re doing our day, happily ignoring our cat.

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