Allison Batdorff: Nostalgia or 'home ache' starts early


OK let me start off by acknowledging the no-win nature of this column. Some will see “cat” in the headline, roll their eyes and file me under a stereotype, a la “Grey Gardens.”

These aren’t “dog people” because I am a dog-people — just one who happens to have two cats. A better name for them is “exclusive dog-people” — those who revel in dog-only-ness, and take a (somewhat binary) view of cats versus dogs, with dogs the victor.

(They may also drive Jeeps with stickers that say “It’s a Jeep thing ...” and believe that their kids’ bad grades are always the teachers’ fault. They also haven’t met the right cat.)

While I’ve never driven a Jeep (because I’m obviously not cool enough, and I DO see the irony in my stereotype here), I’ve seen my child study, and can personally vouch for those who love dogs so much that they end up with cats — because cats can handle long work days, apartments, after-school activities and vacations. I’m a “dog people” who won’t intentionally inflict my canine-incompatible life choices on a sweet-face Fido.

Also “exclusive dog people” penalize cats for their independence, as if their ability to cope with your absence is just another sign of their, what? Evil? Their true disdain for humans? Their scheming plans to use you as a servant until they can feast on your corpse?

And they call us crazy.

But they seem to run the world, at least in the human-archy. Just look at the pet department — cats get two aisles, dogs get six, plus a refrigerated section and several clothing lines. Ever been to a cat park? Or a cat groomer? Or pet an emotional therapy cat at the hardware store?

No, and that’s because cats are the true underdogs.

Just not when it comes to the holidays.

This season is really designed for kids and cats.

We have two (only!) and they start twitching as soon as the Christmas boxes start migrating up from the basement.

A tree! For them! Inside! Festooned with baubles to swat and drag! And at the top — a beautiful angel complete with feathered wings!

Our poor angel has been mistaken for a birdie too many times to count, and mornings usually involve a fair amount of re-hanging dragged ornaments. They chew the tree, they climb the tree, they love the tree.

And there’s presents. No — not the ones you buy the cats (see retail bias above) but the ones you try to wrap for other humans. It’s nearly impossible to wrap gifts with a cat. They want the gift box. They insist on being inside the gift box. They want the ribbon. They insist on stealing the ribbon. I have one clever cat that can open boxes and drawers, and kicks the contents out to make more room for herself. It’s a great game. Needless to say, we use a lot of tape in our household, presents are hidden very well, and I live in fear that we’ll give someone a cat someday.

The only thing the cats dislike about the holidays is the mandatory family holiday photo. Every year, we gussy them and ourselves up to take a photo by the tree. We set the timer, and try to freeze-smile for 10 seconds. By the time the shutter clicks, our arms are shredded and everyone is either escaping or grabbing the air. It’s tradition.

With so much change this season, one thing remains true: Cats love Christmas. So, if any of you exclusive dog people are feeling short on holiday cheer this year, do yourself a favor, and get to know a cat.

Email News Editor Allison Batdorff at

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