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National Editorials & Columns

Feline Foes

I am a dog person.

Nothing makes me feel as if Earth is about to go spinning off its axis, flipping wildly into the abyss, more than folks who claim to be both a dog person and a cat person. Let me be clear: There is no such thing. It’s like being an Eagles fan and a Cowboys fan. A Pollyanna and an Ebenezer Scrooge. A lover of guardian angels and of the devil. Not that I’m saying cats are akin to Lucifer, but to be fair, I think we can all agree they have a little gleam of evil behind their eyes. Though I can accept that perhaps a person can be OK with both species, cat and dog, cohabiting the planet, I fundamentally believe that every person has a preference. Anyone who doesn’t is just unnatural — clearly suffering from some mommy issues that should be worked out through intensive therapy.

Let me start by saying that I hate cats. I’m sorry; that was a little harsh. Let me try again. I hate cats.

Oops! There it was again. I’ll try to rephrase:

I am a dog person. Purely, completely, 100 percent. Well, it used to be 100 percent. This past weekend opened my eyes to how the other half lives. No longer do I believe that all cat lovers are little more than foolish prey, unknowingly making themselves vulnerable to the catastrophic kitty uprising, in which all felines named Whiskers will unite in the dismemberment of their love-struck owners. Just some.

Catpocalypse may seem extreme to you, but my feline fears are rooted in personal experience. For a stint after graduating college, I lived with my friend Emily. She was a year out of college and had settled nicely into adulthood with a teaching job, a fiance, an apartment and three cats. I, on the other hand, was working two full-time jobs waiting tables, homeless and crashing on Emily’s floor. A floor that I had to share with the enemy. Three of them.

I never liked Emily’s cats. After all, they were cats. But my assuredness that felines are nothing but fur balls of malcontent was secured when I began waking up every night gasping for air, suffocating from the weight of the cats sitting on my face as they kneaded their claws into my shoulders.

They’d hiss. They’d scratch. They’d unleash their homicidal tendencies by smothering the slumbering. It was a summer of scares. My fear of cats validated, my hatred of cats vindicated.

Ten years has passed since those days, but when my son and I went to visit Emily last weekend, I was greeted by the same three furry foes.

My son is an animal person. Watching him chase down anything that walks on four legs, I have had to come to accept that 1) he is too young to understand that though there is no wrong answer, he must decide whether to be a cat person or a dog person and that 2) being a cat person is the wrong answer.

For months, I have attempted to nonchalantly scoop my son off the sidewalk every time he has screeched in delight at the sight of a cat crossing our path, hoping he wouldn’t sense my fear. But here we were, in the enemies’ lair, and all my kid wanted to do was hang with the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

My son is kind, but he isn’t quiet. He is gentle, but he isn’t well-balanced. He screamed in the cats’ ears. Toppled over on their heads. Stepped on their tails. Chased them around the apartment. Drove the cats crazy. But my son couldn’t tell.

Though my memory is filled with hisses and scratches and attempted murder through fur ball ingestion, the cats never once threatened or scared my baby. For the first moment in my life, I considered that cats may have one redeeming quality: selective homicidal tendencies.

Just as my defenses were down, I saw the viral video of the house cat coming to the rescue of a little boy who was being attacked by a neighborhood dog.

It was as if a cat took one of its terrifyingly long nails and sliced off a portion of my heart for felines. Now I’m 90 percent a dog person. That’s probably as low as I’ll go.

The ancient Egyptians regarded cats as gods, to be revered and feared. Shouldn’t we trust the people who built the pyramids?

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