The Feline Response

The Feline Response

Why Alexandria isn’t just a doggie domain.

Terri Grow, founder of the holistic pet store and warehouse Pet Sage in Alexandria, has five cats. And like any cat owner, she’s concerned about where they’re going. That’s why she packs her store with a variety of different kitty litter options, from wheat to pine to litter made from corn.

“I’m stealing this from one of the vets I work with: if you wouldn’t work your bare toes in it, why would you expect your cats to?” she said. “The cat is a desert animal who’s used to sand.”

Cats are also used to being second fiddle to their more boisterous, slobbering rivals — think Garfield and Odie, for example.

The Gazette Packet’s Greg Wyshynski sat down with Grow, who keeps two of her cats in her store, and asked the fan of the feline if dogs indeed had Alexandria by the collar:

As an Alexandria cat person, what’s your defense when somebody says that this is a dog town?

“I think the difference is that dogs are visible. There’s this great angle that the reason people have dogs is that it takes you out in public. They’re a communication tool. When I take my dog in the street, I meet more people. You don’t see that with cats. However, you listen to people who are co-workers, and the cat stories … it brings other co-workers in. They’re very strong. I think there are more cat people than people realize.”

So is it just that cats aren’t the most social animals, that you can’t necessarily have cat happy hours and cat parties with cat cakes?

“Yeah. Dogs are pack animals, and they typically enjoy company like that. Not to say that cats don’t. With cats, you learn to live with them. They enjoy the company and they’re truly social animals in their own different ways. I have to tell you that we have clients who come in here with cats on walking jackets, and they come in to shop.”

Why do dog owners always bemoan cats? You don’t hear a lot of cat owners talking poorly about dogs.

“It takes a very self-confident person to be owned by a cat. It takes somebody who is very comfortable with themselves to be comfortable with cats. Dogs are goofy — they’ll just take you wherever you want. I think if you’re graced by the presence of a cat, it means you’re an OK person. It’s fascinating to me, when people walk in here, what the cats will do. Some of them, they’re not comfortable with. Some they’ll go right up to. It’s fascinating.”

This wouldn’t be complete without asking: if you could only have one, is it cats or is it dogs?

[Long pause] “I don’t know if I want to answer that. I adore my dog, she’s wonderful and brings out a different part of me. Yeah, when I go home at night I sit and snuggle up with my cats. But there are also times like that with my dog.”