Nancy E. Anderson: Can a cat be a dog?

As I type, a furry striped tail rhythmically brushes my laptop keyboard and intermittently blocks the screen. My cat, Walter, is lying on my desk lengthwise, intruding into my workspace.

This tabby is Nancy Anderson’s cat, Walter. Credit: Nancy Anderson

But I don’t mind. I am a cat person. I’m crazy about this tabby cat who looks at me with a hint of disgust and meows loudly when I gently push him a little further.

We used to be a house for two cats, but Arnold died in May. So now my husband and I just have Walter.

My friends, with very few exceptions, are dog lovers. They have labs, golden retrievers, and other big-legged dogs that obey commands and look up to them with unconditional love. Two of my adult children also have dogs.

Sometimes I feel like a strange person because I don’t have a dog. Dogs are cooler and more esteemed than cats. If you have a dog, it’s okay to dress it up in a themed collar, bandana, or sweater. It’s okay to take it on vacation, float with it on your paddle board (like a friend of mine recently did), and include it in family portraits.

It’s Nancy Anderson’s little dog, Fawn in the leaves. Credit: Nancy Anderson

If you have a cat and you do these things, well, you’re weird. Also, most cats aren’t interested in fancy dress, travel, and water sports, although they don’t mind being photographed as long as they’re in the center of the frame.

Sometimes I think about adopting a dog, especially when I witness the sweet and intense relationships that my children have with their good-natured dogs. However, when I bring this up with my husband, he reminds me that having a dog is like having a baby. It’s a lot of responsibility.

Yet it stays in my head. But I’m afraid I don’t have the right type of personality. I can get a little nervous around dogs – horses too – because they want me to be in charge. They want me to be the alpha animal. Although I’m tall with a carrying voice, I’m not always comfortable in this role.