Ch 22: Taking the Leap · fleeing abuse · relationships

Human Cats, Human Dogs

Almost twenty years ago, a friend described my then-boyfriend as being “like a cat.” He didn’t mean quiet and fuzzy. He was pointing out that my boyfriend sidled up to anyone available when he needed his version of food—a toke, a beer, sex.

On one level, I couldn’t really see it. On another, I knew it was true.

Recently, I received a note from an online friend. Margaret struggles terribly to get her finances in order, despite extremely high income. Her note centered, though, on her anguished feelings adownloadbout someone else. They sounded familiar to me. They reminded me of the chronic dissatisfaction, aching, and longing I had felt with the boyfriend so long ago, and occasionally with new acquaintances now.  I committed to sharing with her the assessment tool I made up not three months ago: What would happen if, for the sake of my clarity, I considered whether any given person is a “cat” or a “dog”?

Even though every individual animal within a species is different—with plenty of cats that are sweet, sincere, and dependable—for the sake of the exercise, these two images would represent for me the:

  • selfish sidling up then wandering away (cat), and
  • a loyal, dependable, wishing-to-please presence (dog).

What I saw was notable.

I have acquaintances that: disappear for days or months on end; reappear only when they need something; take what they can; wander wordlessly off when a new craving arises.

I have other acquaintances that: are in my life about the same amount, month after month, year after year, regardless of what else is happening in our lives; consider my feelings and experience; can communicate with me in mind as well as themselves.

A Human Cat’s appearance will seem lucky, something to be grateful for, something blessedly earned. In every moment, you will feel anxious that they will leave any second now—because from past experience you know they will. Contact will leave you feeling drained, confused, slightly depressed. You won’t understand why you’re feeling these things, as you cannot pinpoint anything the person did “wrong” or untoward. You will feel chronically destabilized, tipped off balance.

A Human Dog’s appearance, on the other hand, will be soothing from start to end. It will leave you feeling full, satiated, happy, safe. You will feel confidence and trust that she will return within your relationship’s usual rhythm. You will feel happier after the visit than you did before. With the Human Dog in your life, you will feel stable, and duly supported to explore additional realms.

People whose finances are in shambles are often victim to Human Cats. Bled dry over and over of finances, clarity, and energy, they feel unable to straighten out their life.

This is why healing your financial ails often involves developing boundaries. External ones will allow you to start saying no to the subtle vampires in your life. Internal ones will allow you to start feeling a strong self-worth even when vampires try to convince you that you should’t.

3 thoughts on “Human Cats, Human Dogs

  1. I have been using a similar classification system for people, and I think you’re misrepresenting cats 😉 If you reduce people to a two-animal system, I’m definitely more cat-like. I’m introverted and very independent. I’m not jumping up wanting to please people, I assume they’re also independent and have their shit together unless they ask. I don’t mooch, but I do wander off – and don’t feel abandoned when someone else wanders off, they’ll be back at some point. Friendships with more dog-like people are mostly lovely, but I’m always a little anxious that they’re giving a little more than they’re truly happy with, and worry that there’s some expectation they have of me but aren’t able to express. Relationships with more cat-like people are so relaxing! I think it’s just another way that people can be different, and it’s always easier to be around people who are more like yourself.


    1. I know… Poor cats getting a bad rap over here, lol. I think you touched on the key pieces, though, englyn: It can be perfectly appropriate, healthy, and kind to be introverted, independent, wandering off, etc. Nothing wrong with any of those (and I’m definitely all of these too). And when a person can be trusted to wander back within the relationship’s usual rhythm, both people can feel happy.

      It’s more mooching, selfishness, and self-centred lack of communication in some people that I and some others need to be more aware of. That’s what I use the animal images to remind myself of, not independence, introversion, etc. The latter are yummy to me 🙂


  2. I’m an otter. I actually do this classification of people also. I used to work with a shark. It helped me to deal with her behavior and keep a civil relationship, to just accept sharks are predatory by nature. Not bad.
    But, if we are limited to 2 animals I would be hard pressed to describe myself as either. I am super independent, and I do wander off, but I am also very dependable and giving.
    Meadow Lark


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