Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2000

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / September 25, 2000

The other day, I saw a short informational blurb on TV which noted that cats are possibly 20 times more able to learn than dogs, with remarkable retention in those marble-sized brains. At least, they certainly know that thebuzz of an electric can-opener means mealtime.

I have a healthy respect for cats, especially my two, Macavity and Moriarty.

Moriarty rules the neighborhood, terrorizes any dog who crosses his path and keeps stray tomcats out of our cat door. From time to time, my wife and Ihear this unearthly screeching and commotion and we assumed it was Mort but we weren’t sure.

A few weeks ago, I was up early and actually saw him smack away a tomcat while letting loose with this howling scream and puffing up nearly twice his size. Normally, his voice is a tiny squeak, so it was amazing to me to witnessthis seven-pound “mouse” turning into a tiger.

Macavity is “my” cat. He utterly adores me and loves to curl up in my lapwhen my wife’s not around. Given the opportunity, he’ll even snuggle up tome as I sleep or take an afternoon nap.

One of the more pleasant memories of my childhood was visiting my grandparents and taking a nap while their Siamese cat cuddled up with me. Itgave me a favorable impression of cats in general.

Being attacked by three German Shepherds one time gave me a distinctly unfavorable impression of dogs. To my knowledge, cats on the loose don’ttravel in packs and attack anyone, unless it’s tomcats and they find a loose queen.

Mac, however, at twice Mort’s weight, rules the household. He’s determinedmost of our daily routine and his tastes dictate the brand and flavor of the catfood we buy for both of them. He also frequently puts Mort in his placewith an occasional wrestling match in the living room, but I suspect they really like each other.

Mac in most respects is almost the reincarnation of my first cat, Sax. He’sjust as affectionate and just as large and just as contrary. He also snores,which makes him even more of a match for me. I snore, too, but since I sleepso deeply, I don’t hear either of us.

But it’s Mac who once astonished us by actually using the toilet one time on his own, without any training whatsoever. He also taught Mort the proper useof the cat door, despite being almost too big for it himself.

I honestly feel cats are smarter than dogs. Sure, dogs can be more easilytrained to obey, but cats (who, it seems, all remember when cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt) make us somehow feel they are truly running the household and we’re just the pets.

After all, they persuaded us to provide them food, shelter and medical care, and all they have to do in return is purr and sometimes rub against our legs.

They don’t even have to come when we call. Dogs, on the other hand, oftenhave to work for a living.

Now, who’s really in charge here?

LEONARD GRAY is a reporter for L’Observateur.

Copyright © #Thisyear# Wick Communications, Inc.Best viewed with 4.0 or higher