In search of ponies: Finding pet all about compatibility

Sharna Johnson

“I’m learning a lot about women from having a cat,” he said one morning earlier this week.

“Explain,” I said, stunned, not knowing whether to laugh or hang up.

Turns out my brother’s cat is teaching him to be more intuitive and to adapt his approach or retreat based on clues to her mood among other things. Skills he said are helping him talk to women and, well, people in general.

And I have to admit, I secretly breathed a sigh of relief — finally.

As a 30-something single guy who is very focused and driven in his art career, my brother’s dating experience has at times been, to be blunt, awkward if not disastrous.

And it seems like the harder he works on his personal goals the more that area suffers.

When he said he wanted a pet, I was supportive of his desire to get a cat because, though a dog would of course be more macho, a cat fit his lifestyle better.

I knew the companionship would help with the isolation he sometimes experiences spending long hours in the studio, and frankly you can’t really mess up that bad with a cat because they do a good job of looking out for themselves.

Though of course any animal takes an investment and every animal is unique, as a generally low-maintenance animal, cats don’t need or even want constant attention.

What I didn’t foresee was that his cat would turn into a relationship coach, though in hindsight it makes perfect sense.

For a sensitive guy who dives in at the deep end, an aloof and independent animal is the perfect guide.

You see a typical cat (there are, of course, exceptions) won’t let you go overboard but won’t let you stray too far either.

Squeeze too tight and you will pay dearly, most likely in blood. Forget or neglect them and they will trip you going down the stairs or you’ll wake up to them sitting on your chest staring down at you.

When I asked a coworker, who is a cat-man turned dog-lover, if he thought women were like cats and men like dogs, as the popular myth goes, he disagreed and laughed.

Though he did wink and say cats are like women in the sense that everything is on their terms.

A female coworker, who incidentally is quite independent and aloof herself, said she’d take a dog over a cat any day because a dog you can control; a cat just does what it wants.

But rather than being a male/female, cat/dog thing, it seems that opposites attract, with those who appear to not need anyone wanting the slobbery kisses and eager shadow of a dog while those who are affectionate and desire interaction appear drawn to the mysterious detachment of a cat.

Perhaps my brother is on to something and there is an opportunity here to kill two birds with one stone by providing homes to animals and overcoming those dating disasters.

Experiment:

Step 1: Determine the human personality type you’re drawn to.

Not necessarily your logical ideal, but the “type” you always end up with and be honest — needy, clingy, uninterested, distant, destructive, fickle, immature… Whatever the case may be.

Step 2: Go find that personality in a cat or dog that needs a good home.

Step 3: Make it work.

If this is the personality you are continually and catastrophically drawn to, here’s a chance to figure it out without drama and having it held against you decades from now.

Worst case scenario: You figure out what not to do and give a critter a good home.

Best case scenario: Maybe you learn a little something about yourself and who knows, maybe realize you’re better off hiking with the pooch than searching for Mr./Ms. Right.