My husband called to me from the bedroom. “The bobcat is here!”
“Where?” I asked scanning my view past the fence in the backyard.
Wow. The bobcat was lounging inches away from our sliding glass door. She looked hot with mouth open breathing. But instead of panting, she was scenting her next meal. My cat Olive used to do that when scouting for birds in our backyard — before we moved to the wilds of Arizona.
I called to my sister-in-law to come into our bedroom and we stood fascinated watching our very own “animal kingdom.”
The bobcat nonchalantly grabbed a bird midair and took it behind a potted plant to munch. She climbed a tree and came down with another snack of a baby bird. Another baby bird was hopping on the patio oblivious to the danger. That life ended quickly.
The bobcat moved into the shade and fell asleep on our patio, sated with an afternoon meal.
I’m a little nervous to go outside after dark. You don’t know what’s out in those trees or under our patio furniture. It’s literally a jungle out there!
Thanks to my sister-in-law for the amazing videos.
I’m a cat owner now. For most of my life, I was cat and dog owner. My cat is Olive and she’s going on nine years. We got her when my son left for college. He’s allergic to cats so we waited until he was out of the house. Olive is really my daughter’s kitty, but she didn’t take Olive to the snow in Salt Lake City during college, even though Olive would have done well with all her fur and polydactyl paws. Then my daughter got her pug Waffles and the two creatures don’t mix. Olive remains my only pet now. I worried about moving her from the only house and yard she knew in Palm Springs to our new home in Arizona.
She used to go outside for about 10 to 12 hours each day. Now she’s strictly an indoor cat due to the wildlife around our house. So far we’ve seen coyotes, bobcats, javelina, hawks and owls. People warned me that cats wouldn’t last an hour outside. I was afraid she’d go nuts. I thought she’d sneak through my legs whenever I opened the door. But the opposite is true. Olive runs and hides under the bed if a door is cracked open. I think she must smell the danger outside.
Olive jumps in my lap for attention and she follows me around the house. She plays with her toys in the early mornings. Then she stoically stares out the sliding glass door at sunrise. Watching. Waiting. For what? I think she was cut out for the indoor cat life.
In an article by Christopher Ingraham called “Dog owners are much happier than cat owners, survey finds” published in the Washington Post, he quotes lots of statistics that basically say that there’s little difference between pet owners and non-pet owners, but a huge difference in happiness between dog and cat lovers.
The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.
Dog or cat?
In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population — nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one —they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.
For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).
But when you break the data down by pet type — cats, dogs or both — a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.
Dog people, in other words, are slightly happier than those without any pets. Those in the cat camp, on the other hand, are significantly less happy than the pet-less. And having both appears to cancel each other out happiness-wise. (Since someone’s bound to ask, it isn’t possible to do this same type of analysis for say, rabbit owners or lizard owners or fish owners, since there aren’t enough of those folks in the survey to make a statistically valid sample).
These differences are quite large: The happiness divide between dog and cat owners is bigger than the one between people who identify as middle and upper class, and nearly as large as the gap between those who say they’re in “fair” versus “good or excellent” health.
However, correlation doesn’t equal causation, and there are probably a number of other differences between dog and cat owners that account for some of the differences. The General Social Survey data show that dog owners, for instance, are more likely to be married and own their own homes than cat owners, both factors known to affect happiness and life satisfaction.
Previous research on this topic yielded mixed results. In 2006, the Pew Research Center found no significant differences in happiness between pet owners and non-pet owners, or cat and dog owners. However, that survey did not distinguish between people who owned “only” a dog or a cat, and those who owned “either” a dog or a cat, potentially muddying the distinctions between exclusive dog and cat owners.
A 2016 study of dog and cat owners, on the other hand, yielded greater happiness ratings for dog owners relative to cat people. It attributed the contrast, at least in part, to differences in personality: Dog owners tended to be more agreeable, more extroverted and less neurotic than cat owners. And a 2015 study linked the presence of a cat in the home to fewer negative emotions, but not necessarily an increase in positive ones.
We’ve always had dogs. But after Angus, our big yellow lab, who died at age 15, I just don’t want to go through the heartache again. Right now. In the future we’ll see.
Angus and Sherman
It’s so hard to say good-bye. It’s not fair that our pets live such short lives. I have two friends that lost their best friends in the past few weeks. One lost Beckham, her Aussie, and another lost her glorious golden last week at eight years old. My heart grieves for them both.
Lola (RIP) center, with Waffles and Gracie.
What is your opinion on dogs versus cats? Do you have either or both and do they make you happy?
I’m babysitting my daughter’s pug Waffles while she’s off visiting her brother and then studying abroad in Paris and Rome. I have him under my wing until August when she moves to Arizona and takes Waffles with her. He’s a sweet little guy without much fuss or muss, most of the time.
But, we also have Olive. Olive is a seven-year-old cat, who looks suspiciously like a Maine Coone. When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, my daughter adopted the young kitty from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Olive has become my cat and I’m pretty attached. She’s a pretty lame hunter, and mostly goes after worms and bugs.
The problem is Waffles and Olive don’t get along. Waffles is not quite two years old and likes to chase. Olive used to run. Then Olive would stay outside and wouldn’t come back until Waffles left. It wasn’t a long time, like a week of being an outdoor cat, while our daughter was home for Christmas or Spring Break. But now it’s going to be three months. I don’t want Olive to run away for good.
Waffles picture on “We Rate Dogs.”
Olive has changed her behavior to hissing and whacking at Waff. But it doesn’t intimidate Waffles at all and he gets quite growly and barky. He has a big personality and gets right in her face. It escalates quickly and gets noisy and rough. I don’t understand why they just can’t get along.
My pretty kitty Olive.
Do you have any advice for getting a seven-year-old cat and two-year-old pug to become friends?
My favorite graduation picture of my daughter and Waffles.
Yesterday evening, when it was dark outside, my husband said he needed some nutrition bars to take to work. I got in the car to go to the store. I heard a faint scratching noise in the back seat. I wasn’t sure what it was.
The noise made me slightly uncomfortable as I backed out of the garage.
It sounded like the speaker had a little rasping noise. I turned off the radio. The scratching noise continued. Maybe it was a mouse or a rat? It definitely sounded like an animal of some kind!
I put the car in park, opened the door, and jumped out. I threw open the door to the back seat. I saw something gray dart around. It moved so fast it was a blur.
The creature moved to the front passenger seat and began scratching at the window to get out. It was Olive the cat.
The car is a hybrid so it had been silent, but at that moment the engine roared on. The poor cat was terrified. After she scrambled around, I managed to shoo her out the driver’s side door.
I called for her, but she was gone. She stayed out all night after that adventure. My guess is she was hiding in our hedge. Fortunately, this morning she returned home, safe and sound. She’s been clinging to my side ever since.
This was the second time she got into the car. I wonder what her fascination is with cars?
I also wonder how and when she gets in?
Our dog Angus used to love to ride in cars. He’d jump in anyone’s car if the door was open. Even the neighbor’s car. But, I’ve never known a cat to like to cars before. Have you?
My daughter swimming with club teammates during break at the home pool.
My youngest child came home for one week of Christmas break. I’m sad to say, she left already for two weeks of intense swim training at school. She’s a freshman and when she was home, it felt like she had never been away. It was such a great feeling to have her go to morning practice, come back and lounge in her room watching Netflix. I think I was shocked that she had to leave again!
My son, who’s in his fourth year — notice I don’t say senior year — came home for a few days. Left to return to his part-time job. And will be back to celebrate New Year’s with us.
In the meantime, I received a letter from my daughter’s University — The Center for Student Wellness — with interesting information for parents of children of all ages.
They said in the letter that they’ve found on their campus 5 issues that affect academics:
The letter went on to explain that while sleep is fourth on the list, sleep affects everything else on the list. I’m not quite sure how they distinguish “stress” from “anxiety”because they seem to go hand in hand.
However, they state that lack of sleep can be mistaken for stress. It can lead to anxiety. It can make your student more susceptible to getting sick. They suggest 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Then your child will be in a better mood. Plus, they will score higher on tests and have a higher GPA!
As the parent of a swimmer, my daughter gets her sleep. She has had no problem falling asleep. Ever. My son, on the other hand, can’t fall asleep. He stays up until the wee hours, and then we cannot wake him up in the morning.
My tip for getting enough sleep is simple: Swim!
Here are the tips from the University of Utah:
Go to bed around the same time every night, and wake up around the same time each morning.
Have a quiet, dark space to sleep in that is not too hot or cold.
Be sure to remove distractions like televisions, iPods, computers, and tablets from bedrooms. Beds shouldn’t be used for activities like reading, watching movies, or listening to music.
Begin powering down lights and electronics about an hour before bed.
Avoid large meals, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol right before bed.
Limit naps to 20-30 minutes a day.
Engage in regular physical activity.
BINGO! There is it. Number seven. If you have a child in athletics — particularly swimming — your child will sleep. Maybe that’s why they say that swimmers have the highest GPAs of all sports? Even though they get up at the crack of dawn for practice–they’ve had a full night’s sleep.
I was taking care of my dad who had a shoulder replacement when it happened. We weren’t home from the hospital for one hour when I needed help. Somehow, he ended up sliding onto the floor and he couldn’t get up. I sure couldn’t get him up — and we had to keep his shoulder immobilized.
I didn’t think any of my neighbors would be able to help — except for the crazy guy down the street who brings his dog over to do his business on my lawn. But, after he called my daughter, who was 13 years old at the time, the B word and the C word — I try to avoid him.
Besides the crazy guy who I don’t speak to, I realize I don’t know my neighbors. I recognize them and I wave as I drive by. But, I don’t really know them.
It’s not like we’re new to the neighborhood. We moved into our home in 1992. The two neighbors I knew on a first-name basis — Vera and Betty — well, they died at least five years ago.
I remember how it was different when I was young. We lived in a small house in a town of 5,000 residents. We knew everyone on the block — actually everyone in the whole town. During the summer, we weaved our way through each yard and kitchen in our neighborhood. We were offered an occasional cookie or popsicle. There was one house we avoided — Mr. Funk’s house. He’s the one with the cat trap in his back yard. I wrote about him in My Son Tried to Give Away the Cat on Facebook.
Why don’t we associate with our neighbors, anymore? My mom and dad leaned over the fences and talked about their tomatoes with the next door and back door neighbors.
We played work-up in the middle of the street after dinner until it got too dark to play.
I miss those days.
If you’re wondering what happened to my dad, who had slipped to the floor in my living room, I called my husband who was at the beach with my daughter and her friend — a mere two hours away. He gave me a couple of choices. First, call 911. Second, wait two hours for their return. Or, my daughter piped in — call Karl. Karl is a friend’s husband. I wrote about this friend in Alpha Moms and the Cupcake Wars. They don’t live in my neighborhood, but close by — and we’ve been friends for 12 years — fellow swim team, Catholic school, high school and NCL parents. Karl came over immediately and saved the day.
I guess we create our own neighborhoods with our interests and connections.
I have a question for you. Do you know your neighbors? Is this a phenomenon that is particular to my neighborhood that we aren’t very neighborly? Or is it a trend of today?
Some of these photos are from my home town Snohomish, WA. Two are from my current neighborhood, the Old Movie Colony.