ALL IT TAKES IS ONE CAT. When this black cat named Merlin came into Stef’s life, he made her realize that she loved cats despite her being a self-professed dog person.

For thirty long years, I was a dog person. I grew up with dogs accompanying me to and from my piano classes. I grew quite familiar with dogs’ begging tactics come dinnertime—they always tried to guilt me into sneaking them a few bites, thanks to their effective puppy-dog faces. I loved dogs so much that I became closer to canine friends than to human ones. As an introvert with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I found it so much easier to befriend dogs than kids my age.

All that changed when seven years ago, a grumpy cat purred its way into my dog-dominated life. Just like that, I became a “cat convert.” I had an epiphany: Because I loved dogs, loving cats somehow came naturally.

Wait, what? Is it really natural for dog lovers to become cat people?

Before you shake your head in disagreement, let me share with you a few things I learned in the past seven years of my life. Pay attention to number seven: it’s the one that changed my life and the one that might change yours, too!

1.Cats can be as clingy and affectionate as dogs, perhaps just in a different way

Unlike me, my brother is an extrovert. He loves talking to people and expressing his affection verbally. Rather shy, I prefer quiet displays of love. One book summarizes my point for me: The 5 Love Languages, written by Gary Chapman.

According to Chapman, some people express their love through words of affirmation while others prefer physical touch. Some women like receiving gifts WINas proof of love while others feel more appreciated if they are given quality time.

In the same way, cats express (and expect) love in ways that may not mirror those of a dog’s. They do not wag their tails and bark in excitement, but they head-butt you fondly and stalk you loyally from room to room. They do not jump on your lap and look at you with smiles on their faces, but they offer you dead mice, roaches, or even snakes as devotional offerings. Learning the love language of cats has helped open my mind (and given me a few scares, as I’m sure you can imagine), disproving the misconception that cats are unaffectionate and ungrateful.

Besides, even if some cats actually turn out to be unaffectionate little ingrates, it will be too late by the time you realize it. By then, you will have been converted into a faithful cat slave, one who delights in serving feline masters. Welcome to the club!

2.Cats have more poise than people.

You’ve seen people chew with their mouths open and talk with their mouths full. You’ve seen people push and shove instead of waiting patiently in line. Most cats, however, will do nothing of the sort. They walk, eat, and even sleep with poise. Some may wolf down food like hungry beasts, yes, but even in these rather undignified moments, they still manage to look more regal than some equally hungry people.

3.Cats are so low-maintenance (even though they act like high-maintenance snobs).

You can tell outright that some girls (and guys) are high-maintenance based on how they behave. With cats, you’re in for a pleasant surprise: Although they do act like royalty, caring for them is so easy! They like cleaning themselves so you don’t have to worry about daily baths. If you catch a cat looking rather filthy, chances are he’s sick and incapable of self-grooming.

Cats also don’t like it when their poop or pee stinks up the room so they use the litterbox religiously, taking great care to bury their “gold.” You will find yourself always coming home to a clean house!

Okay, I admit, maybe you will find them tearing your stuff apart once in a while. (Many cat parents, however, will be quick to say that’s your fault. Why didn’t you cat-proof your home in the first place?)

4.Cats are interior designers. Do you like decorating your home?

Good for you! Cats share your passion – they have a natural inclination for interior design.

They like the deshabille look in particular, preferring torn curtains over brand-new ones. They are also experts at “revamping” your furniture, puncturing couches with holes which, in their opinion, is a labor of love.

Cats dabble in fashion as well. Want your shirt to look grunge? Leave it lying around and your cats will know what to do with it. Thanks to their preferences in home décor and clothing, you and your house will look, well, different!

5.Cats are wall-climbers.

Mountaineers may be experts at scaling sharp inclines, but I bet they’re no match for a cat’s gravity-defying skills!

Wall climbing is a cat specialty. My youngest cat, Mimi, prefers scaling screen doors and windows. My oldest cat, the grumpy black cat named Merlin whom I was talking about at the beginning of this article, scales indoor walls like a pro. You will find his paw prints all the way up our white walls; it’s amazing how he can do that without hurting himself or the paint job!

6.When it comes to health, cats are martyrs.

Cat people know that cats won’t act sick even if they are. Show weakness when they’re ill? Not a chance.

Dogs whine when they’re in pain. Cats don’t. They will stare you down and walk with their heads up, even when they’re seriously ill. Cats are martyrs when it comes to health issues. These secretive creatures don’t want anyone to know they’re sick. That means cat parents have to be extra attentive to their habits: Any change in behavior may be due to disease.

7.Just like every other dog person in the world, you won’t know you’re also a cat person… until you get a cat.

Cats are very good at one thing: enslaving humans. They can meow, purr, and love-bite their way into your heart, convincing you despite your fascination for canines that felines are just as deserving of your praise, if not more so.

Be warned: All it takes is one cat. One cat, I tell you, and you’re doomed to a life watching cat videos and buying cat stuff for the rest of your life.

Just like many people who grew up with dogs, I didn’t even know I loved cats until I had one! Once you go cat, you never go back.

 

This article appeared in Animal Scene’s September 2016 issue.