When A Cat Goes Bad And Becomes A Drag

By Bill Hall

I could hear a woman outside, yelling, "Bad kitty!"

I went to the window expecting to see a woman reprimanding her cat for catching a bird or a dog or maybe a small foreign car and dragging it up on the porch.

But it was none of that. The woman was reprimanding her cat for refusing to stand up. She was trying to train the cat to follow her on a leash but kitty was on strike. Kitty was lying down, flat on his side, a devoted follower of Mohandas Gandhi practicing passive resistance.

Quite successfully, too. What do you do when a cat flops over on one side and refuses to be led by a leash?

This woman would drag the cat by the neck a few inches as gently as you can drag anyone by the neck. The cat would temporarily give up breathing but refused to rise and walk obediently behind her.

Of course, the woman was bluffing and the cat knew it. He knew she wouldn't walk off down the street, dragging him along behind, wearing his fur out. If she had, the cat would have given up, sworn a few times and popped up on his paws and started using them to follow her down the street. The cat was stubborn not stupid.

But he was smarter than his owner, or at least a better bluffer. She didn't have the heart to drag him by the neck for more than a few inches. She didn't want to hurt the little jerk. So she capitulated.

She would drag him a few inches, then stop and bend over the inert form on the sidewalk and say, almost crying with frustration, "Bad kitty!"

The cat just laid there, waiting for the next skid down the sidewalk, telling her with his body English (if that's the correct term for someone too hairy to speak English) that he would not be bent to her will.

Cats don't understand the word "bad." They aren't like dogs. Dogs understand that word. In fact, dogs love that word because dogs love guilt.

Dogs love being servile, whining doormats who throw themselves at the feet of any cruel jerk who will have them in his presence. Dogs believe they are inferior to humans and they consider it right and just and rational any time they can demonstrate their inferiority.

That's why dogs screw up so much. That's why they tip over the garbage and knock the lamp off the end table with their large bony tails. It gives the owner a reason to look down at the dog and wag his finger and say, "Bad dog!"

When you say that to a dog, a dog understands. He lowers his head in shame and his eyes become saggy pools of humiliation. Dogs are flawed but moralistic creatures who understand concepts like right-versus-wrong and the swift, harsh punishment of just masters. Say "Bad dog!" to an ill behaved dog and he will love you for your righteousness.

You don't have to drag a dog down the street by his leash. He will drag you down the street by his leash because it will give you reason to verbally lash him with another "Bad dog!"

Dogs are politically psychotic. They would love it in some dictatorship like China where the masters of the country run over people with tanks, yelling, "Bad citizen!"

Cats are Americans self-indulgent and individualistic. They don't let anybody lead them around by a leash. And they are, at best, neutral on moral questions. Their only moral position on questions of when to follow the owners down the street is not one of good kitty versus bad kitty but one of dominant kitty versus dumb owner.

You do not bend over a cat and say "Bad kitty!" and expect the kitty to lower his head and look ashamed. You do not expect even a glimmer of recognition at the word "bad," no matter how much guilt you invest in the word with your tone of voice.

Kitties are the original members of the Me Generation. They make Yuppies look like humanitarians. They do what they want when they want on their own terms. You can drag them down the street by the neck and they won't bend.

So I knew the woman dragging her cat was wasting her time. I went to the door and yelled at her.

"Bad woman," I hollered.


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