So I was looking for things to watch the other day and saw that NBC was airing an hour long special on the Secret Lives of Pets.
Are you a pet lover? Then don’t miss The Secret Lives of Pets on @DatelineNBC tonight at 10/9c. pic.twitter.com/H2anblJanK
— NBC (@nbc) September 11, 2014
I saw the Today Show do a segment on cats earlier in the week, so I was interested to see where they were going with this. Let me say this, I think the show was justification for Hoda Kotb to talk about her dog for an hour.
My biggest problem with this show were the cat 'experts'. John Bradshaw is the director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol in England and is touted as the author of “Cat Sense” making him sound like he is a cat expert. Looking at NBC's own profile of him though, he also studies both. This will make a bit more sense when I get into this.
They also tout Martha Stewart as a cat expert because she has a line of cat toys and has four cats.
The third expert they have seemed a bit more legitimate, but she got very little air time. Mieshelle Nagelschneider is a Harvard trained cat behaviorist (They have cat behavior classes at Harvard? really?)
Okay, so why am I calling this show hogwash? Not even a minute into the show, you hear this:
Hota: Some people when they look at cats, they think, they don't care about us..This sets the tone for the entire show (save for the segment by Mieshelle and the bit by Jackson Galaxy, but those don't talk about how much the cat cares)
Martha: I don't think they do care about us
So Mr. Bradshaw doesn't think a purring cat is ever a happy cat. The bit on the TV (sensationalized you know) with a great big negative sign over the "Purring cat = Happy Cat"
The purr doesn't actually mean happiness, the purr is there to get you to do something. It is an instruction.Seriously? Now granted, I will go with the fact that a purring cat doesn't always mean it is happy. Cats purr to self soothe, but I highly disagree with his assumption that it is an instruction.
So how about Cat with Toy = Cat at Play? They say no to that one too. Mr. Bradshaw says they are hunting. Well yes, yes they are. Cats hunt. Is anyone shocked at that? What does he expect them to play pinochle? Why does he think that they can't play at hunting? This part really REALLY gets me:
Bizarrely we found that if a cat is hungry it will play more intensely than if it is fully fed.Why is this bizarre? The cat was designed to hunt to get food, so it is designed to want to hunt more the hungrier it gets... so this is inherent. Nothing bizarre about that..
So about 25 minutes into the show Hota does a voice over bit that says
but if you really want to figure out cats, there is really only one thing to know. They are LONERS. Solitary and territorial. This means while they may like living with you, hanging out with cats is often a different story. Can you say "Cat Fight" (insert videos of cats fighting here)and back to the interview with Mr. Bradshaw
Hoda: is it a good thing to have multiple cats living in the same environment?Okay, yes, but you shouldn't set out on owning any pet lightly, period. And while I've never had dogs, I doubt you should set on having two dogs in the same environment lightly either. But back to the show. Enter a woman with three cats that do not get along. In the segment she is sitting on the floor holding two cats, one in each arm, forcing them to be with in inches of each other. They have Ms. Nagelschneider come over and say feeding them all in the same spot is a problem and you should feed them all over the house, upstairs and down stairs, east and west because they are solitary hunters and would eat alone. She then finds problem with playing with all of the cats at the same time again mentioning how it brings out aggression. I have always fed in the same general area. I hate side by side bowls, but I feed all of my cats in the kitchen, but then again I meal feed instead of free feeding. And play might bring out aggression in the beginning, but done properly it drains energy out from a cat and helps them learn about each other and helps them 'speak the same language' if you will. Like Jackson Galaxy likes to day: Hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, sleep.
John: Well if you set about it the right way, you can do it, but it is not something that anyone should set out on lightly
I do like her quote about litter boxes though: Where in nature do cats all go and urinate and defecate in one spot? As well as her quote about the cat owner: She wanted to learn to think like a cat, that is the perfect cat owner. Yup, I can't agree with that more.
Then the show goes on to talk about the "special gifts" of cats and dogs and they have a hero dog that saved its owner when she was stuck in a canyon. And a dog who is a service dog for a young girl, and then a cat who senses when people are going to die. So dogs are heroic and cats are morbid? How about the story of Tara? or Slinky Malinki?
The show ends with a "which is the better pet" segment where they get opinions of people on the street. They even did a poll on their Facebook page according to the show. I don't know how many of you watch NBC news not-news segments, but if you do, you will have come to realize pretty quickly they are very dog centric over there. I am not shocked in the least that the fans of NBC's facebook page are dog centric. But to then go on to say..
Hota: it has come down to this dogs vs cats which makes the better petThis is the 'cat expert' that they have had on several times, touting him as a cat expert, and he is saying if you don't have any time get a cat? Seriously? Doesn't he know the more time you invest in a cat the more loving and responsive your cat is going to be? People who think cats are loners and have no use for you are people who have cats who are loners and they have no use for their people, because the people have trained them not to depend on them for affection. As someone who starts out the day with four to six cats on her, purring, snuggling, cuddling, in one great big cat pile of love, it FLOORS me when people say cats are loners and aren't affectionate. (Now for those of you who think they just want something, please know my husband gets up before I do and feeds the cats, so they are wanting nothing but to welcome me to the day)
John: A pet for most people would be a dog, if you have the time to look after it
Hota: did you just say dogs were the better pets?
John: for people who have plenty of time to look after them. For people who do not have so much time, it's a cat.
The dog expert Brian Hare gives one of the better quotes in the cat vs dog 'debate' on this show. He said: That's like asking me if a hammer is a better tool than a screwdriver. Well done Brian.. well done indeed. It is very very true. Cats are so different from dogs that it really is an apple vs orange issue.
They end the show with Martha Stewart. They like her because she has a line of pet products for both cats and dogs (and also more likely because she works a lot with NBC [is she partnered with them? on contract? I couldn't find an answer on a quick google search, but you know they are affiliated because she shows up on the Today Show a lot])
Hota: we asked people which were better pets. Clearly people think dogs make better pets than cats.I find it fascinating how her whole body language changes when she talks about dogs and when she talks about cats.
Martha: well because they're needy, and they are obsequious
Hota: the people?
Martha: well both, so a dog will come and put his paw on you and look at you with those soulful eyes and want to be, want to be nurtured. (said in a loving nurturing way, like one might talk to a child) A cat couldn't care less. (said with almost dismissal or even disgust)
Martha: I like the idea that cats are independent, as opposed to dogs who are totally dependant. Cats come and go, they will be cuddled when they want to be cuddled and they will not be cuddled if they don't want to be cuddled.Why is it qualities you admire in a person (not cuddling when they don't want to) are traits to be put down when they are held by a cat? When you invest time in a relationship, that relationship blossoms. Cats are like little mirrors, and they give you back what they take in. As I type this, I have five cats surrounding me. I have had to kick Jack and Muffin off me more times than I care to count because I didn't want them messing up my typing. At this very moment he has his paw on me and he is looking at me with those Puss and Boots eyes. Kit is snuggled up with my husband, her absolutely favorite place in the entire world to be. She loves him with reckless abandon. Fleurp has now shown up.. so we have six.. I wouldn't say my cats are obsequious, because they are not here to serve me, but they obviously love me and my husband and want to be near us whenever they can.
Hota: Some people when they look at cats, in general, they think they are lone rangers, that they are a little haughty, they don't care about us..Martha: I don't think they do care about us. I really really don't. I think they will put up with us.