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Commentary: Cats are complicated creatures; dogs not so much

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

The cat sits in the corner and eyes me suspiciously. I think he knows I am writing about him, but unlike the dog, he could care less what I say. Some people say cats are just independent; I say they are jerks, they know it and that is OK with them. Maybe it’s not so bad they do what they want and don’t care what people or their owners think. And I use the term “owners” loosely — I think my cat thinks of me as more of a personal door opener and food dispenser.  

When I admonish the cat (i.e., tell him to get off the table, stop trying to trip me going down the stairs) he gives me that “whatever” look and continues about his business. Unlike my dog, who is devastated by any criticisms and slinks away to hide. Our dog wants to please us; the cat wants to please himself. 

The dog versus cat as a pet is not a new question. They both have their pros and cons.  

Dogs are friendly, protective and affectionate. When you come home for the day, they wag their tail, run around in circles and act like they thought they would never see you again. Meanwhile, the cat continues his 10th nap of the day. Cats are fun to play with, unless they get too worked up and the claws come out. By the way, if a cat does wag their tail, especially very slowly, run and hide, because they are going on a hunt, and you are their target.  

When we pet the dog, she loves it and again wags her tail and runs in circles. She is very needy and never gets enough of this. The cat allows me to pet him a certain number of times. Go over that time, and he bites my hand. His way of saying enough of this.  

My cat can be affectionate, even cuddly. He lays on my lap to snuggle and purrs over and over. Then, later, I see him outside stalking a baby bunny (don’t worry, I stopped my little psycho kitty in time to save the bunny).  

Our feline friends are very changeable — one minute sweet and snuggly, the next minute reverting to a wild jungle cat. The wildest our dog ever gets is to sleep without her blankie. 

If the food bowl gets the least bit low, the cat makes noises and knocks it on the floor while he gives me a look like he is going to surely starve. I have never seen a cat so obsessed with food; usually that is a dog thing. This is how I know he loves us in his own twisted way. When we go out of town for a couple of days, we leave the food bowl completely filled. But when we return, it will still be filled. I think he is upset that we are gone and does not eat much. That is something for a food obsessed boy like him. He didn't get to be 17 pounds for nothing (he is not actually that overweight. He is a very big boy with a huge head and long body, before anyone gets upset with me for having a weight-challenged pet). 

I do love my cat, even though he never answers when he is called, never listens to me and seems completely indifferent to anything I say. I guess cats are really like teenagers, only furrier.  

Jean Simmons is a Nashville native, Franklin resident, former nurse and columnist for the Herald. She can be reached at jean_simmons

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