The Demands of Pets and the Mate Hunters

January 9, 1997


the risk of getting into relationship with pets, is that, then they start to tell you what to do. it’s different if you ignore them or let then stay out all day till they are so tired they will only sleep when they come in. they will not have time to tell you what kind of help they want next.

sometimes, when people house sit for us, they are astounded that two cats could have so much to say about what is expected…but the black cat and the orange cat, they do have a lot to communicate about what they would like.

i look at it this way. if i want them to leave the woods at night to come in when i call them, and not later when they feel like it and i don’t, then, i must also respond. when i see a fur face staring at me from outside the bedroom window. and i am writing i do not wish to go to the door. the way i see it, coming out of the forest when you are not ready and leaving writing in the middle, are about the same. no one finds either attractive or desireable.

i know people who hunt for relationship everywhere. they are what i call the mate-hunters. they are distinct from mate-finders who are busy serving mates of every distinction. mate-hunters have plenty of time. they put ads in the paper, pay dating services and go out on blind coffee dates till they are deaf and exhausted from interviews. “can’t seem to find a mate i would marry”, they keep telling us. Steve wonders what the problem could be. i tell him, “the people who can let an animal tell them what to do can easily let a person become an intimate partner too.” Steve wants more of an explanation. i continue to talk about the similarities i see with people who ignore animals. “the cat can be up on the counter meowing, his dish is empty, he is looking at his bowl, looking at the drawer where his cat food is kept, howling and a mate-hunter will ignore the cat. they might say only, ‘what is the problem.’” if someone else is watching. they have no commitment to becoming “involved”.

understanding creature needs is not different from people needs. both can be inconvenient. people and pets are a lot of trouble, its true but what is the alternative?

as soon as you do extend an ear you find out what is wanted. you become able to give it.

able to respond, means answering demands or renegotiating so both are satisfied.

my prescription for mate-hunters is “get an intimate pet”, i tell them. “prepare yourself to serve a partner by establishing give and take with a little furry or feathered beast.” my cats want to come in. my cats want to go out. they want to eat. they want to sit on my papers. they want to sleep on my pillow, sit on my chair, walk on the phone while i am on it. cats are excellent teachers in the art of getting along.

i know ladies with birds, bulldogs in cages, Siamese cats, buffy dogs and princely cats who save time and money practicing the art of serving a partner with little household creatures. they understand submission, trading off favors, negotiation, making and receiving demands and the fine art of requesting too.

may pet shops run out of stock as all the mate-hunter people “interested in relationship” rush to buy cats and dogs to teach them.