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Cats never feel guilty

July 30, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
A few years ago someone wrote an entire book on "The Emotional Life of Cats." One of the things the author decided, after much research and discussion, is that cats are incapable of feeling guilty.

Dogs feel guilty. Dogs cower and whimper and avoid eye contact when they've done something naughty. I'd get a dog if I weren't a confirmed cat lover.

Cats are completely unfamiliar with the words "I'm sorry." Cats stare at you, asking silently "Whatcha gonna do about it?" and then do it again the minute your back is turned.

Exhibit A is my cats Archie and Agatha and their littermate Sam, my parents' cat who I am taking care of this week. The crime: jumping on the computer desk when they know they're not allowed to do it. I don't want fur getting into my computer equipment. They know they're not allowed to jump up on that desk but it is impossible for them to resist. I said "no" every time they jumped up, put them on the floor and engaged in a staring contest with three pairs of green eyes. The minute I looked away, one of them jumped back on the desk and gave me the "Whatcha gonna do about it?" look.

Then the cats conspired to put me in the hospital. I had a roomy computer desk chair that had seen better days, one that I salvaged from the Minot Daily when it replaced all our computer chairs a few years back. After years of wear and tear, the spring on the chair broke and the seat tilted a bit to the right. I had to sit in it just the right way or risk falling on the floor, but I still liked it better than any other chair I'd found.

Last night, when one cat climbed up the back of the chair and another jumped in my lap at the same time, causing me to overbalance, the chair finally snapped in two. The frightened cats, paying no heed to my welfare, ran to hide under the bed. After picking myself up off the floor, I hauled the broken chair to the apartment Dumpster.

When I came back inside, one of the cats was sitting in the forbidden spot on the computer desk, giving me the "Whatcha gonna do about it?" look.


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