This article is a part of The Ascent Summer Program 2020
By Arthur F. Beaugeard
Since the dawn of human history, our species has been clearly divided into two sects: Dog People and Cat People. Although more research needs to be done to illuminate the matter, there is clearly, in the public discourse, a marked preference for dogs over cats.
I remember, as a child, being thoroughly disheartened when my local newspaper declared dogs to be the superior species. I once read a scientific study which discussed how a parent might mix up the name of their pet and their child, which then erroneously claimed that this would only happen with dogs and not with cats, even though I had witnessed my own parent mixing me up with the family cat. In the disreputable, and, quite frankly, morally abhorrent film Dogs Versus Cats, cats are depicted as simple and cruel beasts who only lust for world domination and wish to thwart their dog foes. In the more recent film Pets, a dog says that a human could never love his cat friend as much as him. From cradle to grave, the public has this message burned into their subconscious: Cats are inferior. Dogs are superior.
Since there are 1.2 billion cats in the world and only 900 millions dogs, why are things like this? Why have I heard so many dog people disparaging cats, but few cat people disparaging dogs? The numbers show just as many, and probably more people prefer cats over dogs, but in public, all one can hear about is the alleged inferiority of cats. I would argue that this is because of the general dispositions of dogs and cats, which leads to the types of owners that they attract, who then shape, or fail to shape, public opinion.
Cats are more reserved and quiet. They spend more time wandering on their own compared to their significantly more boisterous counterparts, dogs. This leads me to suspect that more introverted people are more likely to be cat people and more extroverted people are likely to be dog people. Introverted people are more likely to stay quiet and not voice their opinions in comparison to dog people. This causes the dog people to talk loudly and openly about their dislike or outright hatred of cats while cat people stay quiet.
This, in turn, has created a culture where dog people control the narrative. This constant positive feedback and a reminder of their own pet’s superiority only makes it seem more normal to say rude and aggressive things about cats, which makes the problem even worse.
How can cat people combat this problem and pro-dog propaganda?
The solution is not to fire back with searing insults and brutal comebacks. I believe that cat people must speak up for themselves and assert that they have a right to not be disrespected.
I think that cat people must speak up when dog people start destroying the reputations of cats and not let pro-dog propaganda control people’s minds. This is the only path forward which will not lead to a further rise in tensions, and the only path which can give cat people the peace of mind knowing that they can engage in dialogue with dog people or watch a movie about dogs and cats without getting their feelings hurt.