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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Cat people on dogs...
Well, those Warriors books by Erin Hunter that I've been slavering for finally came in, and they're better than I expected (I'd read a later book in the second series, and was on edge waiting for the first series to come in). Really good stuff. Yeah, it gets a little cloying when the cats' speech is frequently refered to as meowing (eg, "Hello," Fireheart meowed), but the stories are excellent and the characters are engaging.

But I got a kick out of the fifth book, in which the threat was an escaped pack of large dogs free in the woods. The cats are always articulate and have an evolved belief system and code of Clan loyalties. They have apprenticeships and cats who study healing, and deep kinship connections as well as difficult moral choices. The dogs' entire dialogue consists of monosyllabic grunts, and after their first scene, those grunts consist entirely of pack, pack, kill, kill.

I mean, of course it's obvious that people writing books about cats are cat-people, but it's still funny the way the clearly see dogs. It's not some kind of considered characterization choice. It's just... "Well, they're dogs. Pack, pack, kill, kill. Easy for a bunch of cats to trick several times over. Main strength is in being large and heavy with big teeth."
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scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: July 15th, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
escape pack of large dogs free in the woods

It is the marauders!
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: July 15th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you read WE3? It's a comic by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, with animal-like but carefully considered animal characters. The three main characters are a dog, a cat and a rabbit, all with cybernetic enhancements, who escape from the lab that altered them and try to go home. It doesn't detract from the dog or the cat (or the rabbit).
cornfields From: cornfields Date: July 15th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I loved WE3. One of the best graphic novels of 2005, imho. It reminded me somewhat of The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, who also wrote Watership Down.
jennnlee From: jennnlee Date: July 15th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Owly icon! I met that artist at a con a couple years ago and he was really nice. :-)
From: underaloggia Date: July 15th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, what it reminds me of is the seagulls in Finding Nemo. Every other bird and animal in that movie was perfectly articulate, but all the seagulls could say was "Mine? Mine? Mine? Mine?" in this hilariously irritating fashion. OTOH, it was brilliant, and seemed to capture the seagull psyche perfectly; OTOH, I kinda saw some animator who had it in for seagulls lurking behind the characterization...

I was swimming off a deserted beach once with friends, and before we even noticed, seagulls came along, pulled out our unopened bag of Tostitos from the very bottom of the beach bag under our clothes, pecked it open, and started eating. "Mine?", indeed.
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: July 15th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seagulls are wary and smart. They know that the humans bring the food, but not to get too close.
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: July 15th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seagulls are evil, evil creatures. Pigeons of the sea. But it would indeed be hard to call them stupid. Wily, conniving, but not stupid. Alas, if only. ;)
threnody From: threnody Date: July 15th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's one thing I never really understood about 'violent hatred' non-dog people. It's okay to not like them, but to say that they're stupid or single-minded is... *shrug*

But at least (most of them) don't pee on your bed if you piss them off. :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I like dogs, actually. But it's a common perception among cat owners that dogs aren't very bright. Possibly because they don't pee on your bed when they get annoyed.

(Of course, they pee on everything else when they get annoyed, and chew up toys, but that's all just animal behavior, and part of having a pet. I have a feeling non-pet-people of all varieties can't imagine why we animal people put up with it.)
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: July 15th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling non-pet-people of all varieties can't imagine why we animal people put up with it.
*raises hand* I never had a pet growing up, and I'm afraid my sentiment is just as you describe.
In a family of nine, however, I have a lot of patience with children...
(Deleted comment)
jennnlee From: jennnlee Date: July 15th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee! One of my cats used to sleep on my head sometimes, so that I looked like I was wearing a furry hat. The dog tried to do the same. She weighs 70 pounds, so it didn't go over nearly as well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, my roommate's cat, the formidable Jelly Roll, isn't very bright (lovable, but not very bright), while my old cat Popoki was smart as a whip. My dog Benji was a little confuddled about quite a few things, but was also a problem solver, and my grandmother's cat Patches was average, while her dog Skipper was too stupid to figure out how to climb stairs. (Patchie and Skipper were my earliest experience with cats and dogs, possibly contributing to my notion that cats are smarter.)

They have different styles of relating to each other and to people, except for the ones who are raised together (who, as you mention, get a mite confused)--cats are solitary hunters while dogs are pack hunters, and that makes for a difference in psychology--and what I think people tend to perceive as differences in intelligence are just matters of whether or not the style of behavior is more closely matched to the person.
threnody From: threnody Date: July 15th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, we've got a bunch of cat-dogs. They totally think they're cats. My kitty and my dog used to groom side by side on my bed, I'll never forget the first time.. The cat splayed her toes to lick between them, and the dog stopped washing her face and had this classic "You can DO that?!" expression. :D

(Yes, she washes her face.)
jennnlee From: jennnlee Date: July 15th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh. We live in a multi-species household (two cats, two dogs, iguana), and I often wonder how they see each other. Our bigger dog thinks she's a cat, the smaller cat thinks he's a dog. The border collie mix is the cop and head of the family, walking the other dog, breaking up friendly rassling matches. And it seems all-inclusive. One big pack. So do the dogs think the other three are odd-looking dogs? Do the cats think we have two big (and one green scaly) cats? Mass confusion here.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 15th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I know what I like in cats but, while I'm not a dog person, I know what's likable about them. I think cats appeal a bit more to introverts. Their independent, go where they want, and always seem to have a strong sense of self. They're not known for bowing to the group.

Dogs are more companionable. They have what seems like a strong group ethos. They're known for their loyalty and hard work (no one ever trained a bunch of cats to pull a sled [with the exception, I suppose, of the Norse goddes Freya, but that was one of the clear signs that she was a supernatural entity who could turn the natural order of the universe inside out for her own convenience]).

Dogs are the ones who help herd sheep, who loyally protect the farmstead, who spend ten or fifteen years going to the train station every day to meet the long dead master who never returns.

It's just that, if they could read and write, I can't imagine dogs adding anything to the fantasy section of the library. It would be all heart warming stories of daily life or fights with other packs.

Cats, on the other hand, seem like they would write my kind of stories (although they would proabably portray all the dogs as drooling idiots because cats don't have that group ethos and don't seem big on understanding those who are different than them).

Of course, you also rarely hear of cats going feral and ripping people to shreds, either.

riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: July 15th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now, if the dogs were chiaua (or however that's spelled), they might have a chance.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: July 15th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ed the Sock did an EDitorial on cats and dogs and kind of cracked me up.

Now I love dogs, I have 2 big ones of my own, but let’s face it - dogs are like 300-pound hookers -- they’ll go with anyone who wants them. Cats, on the other hand, are a lot more picky. You can’t just win them over by showing up with a biscuit. You have to earn their attention, and there’s no guarantee of doing that, because cats have even better moron-radar than people. I know if one of my cats doesn’t like someone, that person is probably an idiot.

Me, I tend to prefer people who think for themselves, and so I prefer that in my animals as well. Yes, cats sometimes act superior and aloof...but maybe that’s because they are. And they’re great tools for self-discovery too. For example, if you find yourself being ignored by a cat...perhaps you’re a moron without even knowing it!
ltsk From: ltsk Date: July 16th, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
God, that's awesome. Exactly right and very funny. TA for sharing, and much love for the iconage.
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: July 15th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I work at a used bookstore, and we had someone come in looking for Warriors books about cats two days ago. I was able to cite your LJ and talk vaguely about them. Thank you for making me feel so smart. :P
Unfortunately, we had none of the books. Alas.
matril From: matril Date: July 16th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps it would be better to think of dogs as Hufflepuffs and cats as Ravenclaws? (Althought really, the official mascots are badgers and eagles, but why not extend the classification to the entire animal kingdom...)
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: July 16th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there is a house with a feline mascot already.

Perhaps you could connect the opinion some people/characters have that Gryffindor can get away with murder to the way I keep running into cat people who figure it's normal to get randomly lacerated? ;)
jedione From: jedione Date: July 16th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Our Padawan loves those books, maybe I should read them too?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 16th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll do a review later (I just caught up on the last of the books that are out)... but yeah. I enjoyed them immensely. Violent as all hell--several on-screen deaths, including the threatened murder of kittens and the actual murder of a cat who defends them--but a decidedly good bunch of stories. And hey, you can never go wrong when a story has masters and apprentices in it, right?
dadaginny From: dadaginny Date: July 17th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
My little Padawan loves those, and as soon as I'm done with the set of books that i have to read I'm headed to those. They sound great! He also has another set about Owls that he says are good -- the Guardians of Ga'Hool (sp?).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 17th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Will have to check the owl books out. Owls are good. Maybe they'll keep me busy until New Prophecy 5 comes out... ;)
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