Among the many entertaining conversations featured in Quentin Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction, there is one that may be my personal favorite. It takes place in a diner between John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson and the subject is pigs vs. dogs. Mention is made that Samuel doesn’t like pork because pigs are nasty animals. John T. happens to think that dogs are nasty too because they eat their own feces. After agreeing that dogs can sometimes feast on their own product, Samuel counters with the following bit of wisdom: “But a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.”

That’s where I’m at with dogs. I’m big on personality. With a face like mine, that’s critical.

Back in the late 1980s, I fell in love with a husband and wife band called Timbuk 3, and on their debut album, they had a witty song called “Facts About Cats” which contained the lyric: Cats will be cats, and cats eat birds.

We have a large bird feeder we hang outside our living room picture window during the winter months and we take great delight in spending time relaxing, watching the birds. We used to keep it up for an additional month or so after winter was over, but that’s when a neighborhood cat would show up and sit right below the feeder, circulating the jump to nab one of our birds. It happened more than once and we resorted to using a squirt gun out a window to discourage the cat from hanging out. Not that the cat was ever hit with the squirt of water. No. They’re too fast for that.

Eventually, we stopped having the feeder out past the winter months and the problem seemed to heal itself.

A co-worker and I were watching a Reddit video that featured a King cobra trying to attack what looked like a small sandbox with a nice looking kitty in it. The snake was fully engaged, upright, hood wide, trying over and over to strike. But this little fluffy cat was having none of it. Oh, hell no. The cat arched its back and delivered a series of paw swipes that made the cobra give up and slither away. I was impressed because the cat never backed down, even in a situation where if you were betting, you would have put your wallet on the deadly cobra. Very inspiring.

I read an article in a British newspaper about a cat getting shot with a crossbow. Two neighbors who both had cats were not getting along, with one claiming the other one’s cat was tormenting her cats. So the offended woman picked up a crossbow and put a bolt through the offending cat’s head. They showed pictures. This poor little feline had inches of bolt sticking out of both sides of its head. The bolt had to have been heavier than the cat itself.

And the cat lived.

After 4 days of meandering around with a bolt through its head, this cat managed to find its way home and collapse on the family doorstep. The cat spent a few days with a vet after surgery and I’ll be damned. The cat lived, although I suspect a bolt through the head from a crossbow may have been good for using up 7 or 8 of its lives.

I’m a dog person mostly because I have to be. I used to have cats in my youth from time to time, but in my early 20s, I came down with cat allergies. To this day, if I’m going to be around one for any length of time, I have to take an antihistamine, hopefully about an hour before contact. If I take the pill, I’m fine. If not, my head blows up like a basketball in about 45 minutes, especially if they’re making close contact with me. And trust me when I tell you that cats like me. They really like me. I can’t explain my animal attraction, but clearly I have it because every time I go to a house with cats, they crawl all over me. They swirl in figure 8s around by ankles and smarm their heads and bodies on me. Occasionally, they treat me to locking their needle claws at the top of a kneecap and then they ever so slowly let their weight drag them and their needle claws down the entire length of my leg. Like they think I’m a cat post or something.

I’ve been invited to lunch at someone’s house and witnessed their cat hop up on the dining room table and walk around, swishing its fluffy dander-tail over the food dishes and people’s plates. We have a Boston Terrier, and in her day, she could jump up pretty high. But she never got up on the table. Not even when someone left a stairway for her by leaving an empty chair pulled out. Nope. That dog does not go up on the table. She knows better. Cats. Not so much. Different kind of attitude.

I’ve seen cats sauntering along on kitchen counters. Making their nightly bed in a master bedroom bathroom sink. And once in a great while, I’ve come outside in the morning to find a cat warming itself on the hood of my car. I get it. I would prefer the cat didn’t do that, but I get it.

We live on the border of Charlottesville. Years ago, there was a prominent luxury car dealership that had staked out a highly visible and well-traveled corner. Every time I’d drive by, it was interesting to see what vehicles were on the lot. He regularly had beautiful looking autos, polished up and shining. Jaguars. Rolls-Royces. Bentleys.

The business seemed to thrive until the owner made a tactical error. He shot his neighbor’s cat. There had been buildup to the murder. Each night, the auto dealer drove home sporting dealer plates slapped on to whatever luxury vehicle tickled his fancy that day. According to the dealer, he came out multiple times and found the neighbor’s cat sitting on, and scratching, his cars. The neighbors had words multiple times with the cat owner summing up the obvious: “It’s a cat. How can I stop it from coming over on your property?”

The cat owner got an answer of sorts shortly thereafter when the auto dealer came out and found the neighbor’s cat on his car again. The dealer went back inside his house and came back with a BB gun which he promptly fired into the cat’s head, killing it.

End of problem. Okay, well, end of one problem.

What auto dealer guy didn’t get was how much people like cats. What auto dealer didn’t expect was that PETA peeps would show up in droves EVERY DAY and stand outside his establishment holding up signs that said things like “Cat Killer!” The local media clocked in with extended coverage and within weeks, auto dealer guy had to shut his doors.

So I gotta wonder. If you own an import luxury vehicle business and you’re taking inventory home all the time, why not just pony up and invest in a garage? Maybe a slipcover that fits over the cars. I don’t know. I’m just typing out loud here. Seems simpler than pissing off your neighbor and losing your livelihood.

Pulp Fiction also has a passage where people are either defined as Elvis people or Beatle people. You can love them both, but according to Mr. Tarantino’s script, every fan favors one at least slightly more than the other. Personal exposure has shown me that people can like both cats and dogs, but they usually have a preference, hence the monikers “dog person” and “cat person.”

There’s a documentary that came out a while back called Don’t F*ck with Cats. The subject matter is pretty grim in places. The story details how a murderer was chased down and found using cyber forensics. Turns out that in addition to killing people, he had a thing for torturing and killing cats, live-streaming the process to social media platforms. What we discover is that messing with cats trumps torturing and killing humans almost every day of the week. My contention as I get older is that many folks get much more upset about an animal being hurt than they do people. Granted, after you meet enough people in your travels, you can see where a lot of them would be less than a close second to cats.

They say when cardinals appear, it’s because a lost loved one is visiting you. Maybe. We normally have a fair amount of cardinals cruising our feeder – I’ve counted as many as a dozen at one time. On two separate occasions in the years we’ve had our current feeder, I’ve seen a waiting cat score and run off with a bird in its mouth. One of those times, it was a cardinal. Now I have to wonder who that spirit was that was visiting me. And wasn’t it rich that a soul came to visit me as a cardinal and then got double-killed by being eaten alive?

Like I said, I’m a lot like my dog. Relying on the personality aspect to get me through.

So overall, I guess I’m okay with cats and the cat people I hold dear as friends. Of course, that all could shift if I look out and see a cat with another one of my cardinals in its mouth.

Cats, I’m trying to be cool with you.

I haven’t played Timbuk 3 in a while.

Don’t make me get out the squirt gun again.