David Hill: Dogs have been put in their place, so let's hear it for cats

Now that stern dog-control legislation is under way, and our MPs have shown they aren't always, well, mongrels, I suggest they take the four-legged friend focus further. They should cultivate the cat lobby.

The term "cat lobby" doesn't sound impressive. You imagine members entering through cat doors. You worry about their leaving cat litter.

But then, the English language doesn't treat Felix catus kindly. "Dogged" is a word full of approval. "Catty" is not. Phrases such as "catty tricks" and "catty remarks" come with a pre-packaged sneer.

They shouldn't. Surely the deceit and duplicity of catty tricks and the image-restructuring of catty remarks are the very qualities we want to encourage in our corporate and political sectors.

The word "cat" carries a power and majesty lacking in "dog". It would have been so much better if Shakespeare had urged "Cry havoc, and let slip the cats of war" and that Noel Coward had written "Mad cats and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun".

As I say, the time seems ripe for a major Moggy Power push by cat lobbyists. After all, cats can do so much that dogs cannot. They get rid of troublesome vermin (second political reference). They are a conversational icebreaker.

They save us from feeling lonely at night and the best chairs from feeling lonely during the day. They provide new challenges for vacuum-cleaner manufacturers.

Cats never attack the posties' ankles as dogs do. Instead they slide out from under the posties' hand just as s/he bends to stroke them, thus causing postie and posties' bike to fall over.

They never rush baying at the wheels of one's neighbour's new BMW as it passes. Instead they wait until the BMW is parked, then walk with muddy paws across its roof and curl up with moulting fur on its warm bonnet.

Some felophobes will claim that a cat cannot be a burglar deterrent. Nonsense. Anyone who has felt Fluffy's claws as she kneads herself on to a comfortable lap knows that a trained guard-cat dropping silently onto the shoulders of a home invader as he crouches over one's jewellery drawer provides a potent incentive for a career change.

If they have any vision, the cat lobby will already be engraving front gate signs: "Beware: Cats running loose inside."

They will also be demanding appropriate law changes. Not only should the owners of dangerous dogs have those dogs removed; they should be obliged to replace them with cats. Imagine a Hell's Angel slouching down the street in full tats and leathers with a long-haired Burmese on the end of a leash. Surely this would represent a useful step towards social assimilation.

The cat lobby should be emphasising as well that cats have a particularly relevant role in the early 21st century.

This is, after all, a time disturbingly obsessed with self: self-image, self-gratification, self-importance. We are raising the "Me" generation.

So why not make them the "Mee-oww" generation? Everyone between 15 and 25 should be obliged to own a cat. One supercilious stare from your tabby, one contemptuous tail-flick as it rejects its gourmet salmon-and-offal is enough to remind humans of their true place on the evolutionary ladder - three rungs below Felix c.

Montaigne (third literary reference) put it purrfectly: "When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is amusing herself with me more than I with her?"

I could go on. The cat lobby should. But I have to stop here and submit this piece to Tiddles.

*A New Plymouth writer, David Hill is owned by a 9-year old tabby.

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