Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 670, May 13, 2012

The Bill of Rights isn't about us, it's about them.
It isn't a list of things we're permitted to do, it's
a list of things they aren't allowed even to consider.

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Cats and Dogs
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

If FaceBook's good for anything, it's unwinding skeins of thought. One thread I got into recently was about dogs as pets, compared to cats.

I'm a cat person. I've had cats with me, beside me, and underfoot, all my life, since I was maybe five or six, and I enjoy their company immensely.

Mind you, I've had dogs, as well, but they're all sychophants, scavengers, submissive personalities, and I've never cared much for the way they smell. (I'm used to the smell of cats—they smell all right if you give them half a chance to stay clean—and when they're kittens, they smell like furry flowers.) Recent ethological studies pretty much demonstrate that dogs descend from wolves who learned to tolerate human presence so that they could root through our garbage heaps.

Cats sincerely believe that they're our equals, which can be both funny and instructive. They're extremely choosy about people (one reason some folks can't stand them) and can take a given individual's attention or leave it. Maybe one reason I like cats is that they tend to like me. Part of the secret is to be patient, even act a bit aloof, and let them come to you. Add what Valentine Michael Smith liked about them, that cats are good, honest predators. And they're willing— even proud—to share their fresh kills with the humans they love. Amazing.

I've had three dogs, myself: a cocker spaniel/fox terrier mix I named Beauregard, who taught me that my paternal grandmother was a truly evil woman; my brave-hearted Samoyed Cydnie, whom I honor in my stories of Eichra Oren and his doggie partner; and Graywind, a bright- eyed Keeshond, technically my daughter's pet, who was gentle and sweet and patient with a family who never seemed to have enough time for her. My mother raised collies and Shetland sheepdogs, not my cup of tea.

However felines seem have a great deal more individual personality variation than dogs—there's pretty much only one doggie mind—and that's great fun to observe. Some are timid, some are bold, some are retiring, and some aggressive. Some are frighteningly smart. All are capable of fighting way outside their weight range if cornered. My old friend Ambrose has sat beside me patiently as I wrote book after book, staying with me when I was sick. He won't be doing it much longer, but I'll stay beside him until it's over, just as he would have done with me.

Cats don't have to be taken out for a walk—or, more truthfully, a poop. Most of them won't tolerate a leash any more than you would. You can leave some food down and go away for a day or two and not worry about a cat gorging and founderung the way you would a dog. As Americans find themselves squeezed into tighter and tighter quarters by a rogue government clearly dedicated to crushing us all alive for the sake of lovely Mother Gaiea, cats look like better and better partners.

I find it endlessly fascinating that with one exception, history's dictators have always hated cats, who, as independent creatures and nature's libertarians, are not the best pet for someone who thinks he owns everybody else's lives. Some individuals appear to resent their independence. For me, it's the main characteristic that makes cats attractive.

The exception (I've pondered over this like a puzzle, for years) was Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who made a point of being photographed with his cat (I have its name around here somewhere) on more than one occasion.

It may not tell the whole story—nothing does—but the next time you wonder about a politician, or a potential employee or boss, or even that redhead you find intriguing, find out how they feel about cats. Come to think of it, I wonder where Obama, Romney, and Ron Paul stand.

It may tell you how they feel about individual liberty.

[ Here's an interesting study of the dog-human-wolf interface—Editor ]

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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