I never fully understood the phrase “they fight like cats and dogs.” As a child, we didn’t have many pets. My younger sister had a bird or two, but no cats or dogs. I couldn’t fathom why people assumed that these two types of animals would not get along. From what I knew, most cats were sassy, sly quiet pets while most dogs were all bark and no action – a sensitive, yet lazy breed. Sounds like a perfect match, right?
What I’ve realized as a parent, though, is that we all go through a “cat” and a “dog” phase.
My daughter has always been the sassy and sly one while my son has this laid-back bark-with-no-bite personality. For nearly nine years, they’ve managed to play well together, show affection for each other, and look out for each other – even in the midst of minor spats. My daughter, 10, the little kitty, and my son, 9, the pampered pooch, did not conform to the popular notion that cats and dogs could not get along. Until this summer.
I’ve spent my summer listening to snotty torts, screaming matches, and even fist fights that escalated into wrestling matches. From what type of cereal the other ate to who would get in the shower first – there was nothing that was not on the floor for debate.
I’ve downed Aleve, I’ve taken away DSi games, I’ve separated the two, and I’ve yelled back, but to no avail … the fighting continues. My pre-teen cat and growing pup are at a stage in life where they annoy and anger each other, every minute of the day.
Tonight, though, after a day of whining, fighting, and hateful words, something ironic happened. We were walking out of the mall, getting ready to walk through the parking lot, when my daughter takes his hand, protectively, and he gladly accepts it. They giggle during the two-minute walk, tickle each other at one point, and then have a civil conversation as if they’ve never had a spat before, or as I was hoping, never would again.
I began to think that maybe the myth of cats and dogs is just that – a myth. Maybe this “fighting” is just playful. Maybe it is the only way these breeds can show affection. A growl, bite, or scratch may just be an act of love.
On the ride home, my sassy cat leaned over to her brother, kicked him, and took away his Nintendo DS when he wasn’t looking. Wow, I thought, she must really love him.
– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Aug. 1, 2009
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