Cubans and Pets

Regina Cano

Photo: Caridad

The first reaction of both my friend and I was one of shock.  We had come upon a disemboweled cat in the street when leaving her house.

A repugnant and pathetic sight, the animal had obviously been run over by some truck, but without the benefit of the human mercy to move it aside and spare it subsequent squashing.

Sadly, we lingered there a while talking about how cats in Cuba are not so popular, how drivers and the general population are negligent with regard to this animal, which to some degree helps maintain the ecological balance in neighborhoods and homes.

Adopting pets and trying to be responsible for them is common among humans, and Cubans are not exempt from this custom.

Though on occasions we aren’t completely familiar with the nature of the animal, people always take the risk to possess and enjoy their company, with the special attribute one is conferred from believing themself dominant among the species that inhabit this planet.

The scent of fish

In this country, dogs win out in terms of preference; they take the lead among animals that continue to be adopted for pleasure or out of need, superstition or religion.  Cats, though less favored, still occupy a high place on the list of preferences.

Cats are believed to be desagradecidos (ingrates) for closing their eyes when they eat, which   actually demonstrates pleasure.  Likewise, they’re thought of as “traitors” because their refined sense of smell and their instincts lead them to find and take our food when they’re hungry.

Who doesn’t know what the scent of fish or another meat arouses in a cat, even more so if we leave these within reach of their claws and teeth.  But how can you blame this animal for responding to an impulse that nature granted it?

Cats —these beautiful, elegant, athletic and acrobatic creatures— cannot be tamed like other animals.  They cannot be possessed; they coexist with you, and they possess spaces within the home that are their spaces, which they actively claim.

Enigmatic, for maintaining a distance from different species, this gives them a character that ranges from fierce hunters to lazy “purrers.”   Generally peaceful, they don’t like loud noises or abrupt movements.

The experience of sharing your life with a cat gives you the opportunity to learn of its natural instincts, demonstrating to us the natural freedom it possesses.

Photo: Caridad

Dogs, on the other hand, have adapted more to people’s lives.  This has made them partners with us from time immemorial, earning them the place as our most faithful and best friends.

For a long time I used to hear, “They get along like dogs and cats,” referring to a couple that didn’t get along or to describe similar behavior in intra-family relationships.

Of course this is the human interpretation for the initial and natural rejection of two species that live within the force of habit and for social behaviors that are projected onto animals by humans.

Because how many times have we seen dogs and cats share the same roof with no problems. They’re not like us, who almost treat everything we touch with ill-intentioned or irrational violence.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.