According to a recent survey, the numbers of cats and dogs in America is almost the same. Most families , espescially those with young children, prefer dogs but older single ladies love cats and sometimes have several of them. I myself have had both cats and dogs as pets at different times but most people like one or the other.
In Istanbul and in Greece , as we found out on a tour last year, there are many more cats than dogs.I suppose the relative scarcity of dogs is because dogs cost more to feed and maintain.
On our first evening in Istanbul we went to a seafood restaurant near the Hotel Armada. We were looking at the menu, deciding what to order, when my sister-in- law gave a little scream and pushed back her chair. A cat, one of several that were hanging aroud, had strolled under our table and was winding itself around her legs. Throughout our meal, we saw cats padding between the tables and meowing for hand-outs.
This scene was repeated throughout our trip and we got used to it. However , one evening in Santorini, it got to be too much even for a cat lover like me. We had been to a little taverna, Santorini Mou, and there were upwards of a dozen cats strolling around the cramped dining room. At one of the adjoining tables , where there were only two diners , a cat jumped up on one of the vacant chairs and mewed for food. They fed him a tidbit but that only encouraged him more and I thought he was going to lean over and help himself ! The diners must have thought so too because they had the owner come and shoo him off.
We couldn’t help thinking about the relations between humans and cats, so different than what we are acccustomed to in America. (It’s just different ; I’m not saying that one is better than the other). There, it seems like a relationship of equals, separate but equal. Cats are accorded the right to move about wherever they want, even in a restaurant. They hang out with several others and go freely from one house to another. They don’t belong to anyone in particular and are like more or less welcome guests. Since they don’t belong to anyone , they are not spayed and they proliferate. How different it is here , where they are tightly controlled, sometimes pampered, but still pets rather than equals.
Which brings me to the phrase ” raining cats and dogs “. The connection between cats and dogs and rain is not readily apparent . Where did it come from ? Of the several possiblities mentioned , these two are the most popular.
One: In seventeenth century England , whenever there was a severe thunderstorm, the rain would wash all debris from the roads into the gutters. The rubbish would often include the dead bodies of cats and dogs and they would be left in the gutters after the water had drained away. They had to have come from somewhere , right ? Hence, “raining cats and dogs”.
Second: In ancient mythology, cats have been assosciated with rain, dogs with wind. So when there was a severe thunderstorm with lots of rain and heavy winds , sailors in particular ascribed it to cats and dogs.
Take your pick. I like the first one.