Why do people like animals
Cats and humans : The lust for submission
The favorite joke of cat lovers goes like this: A dog and a cat meet. The dog says: “They love me, they care for me, they feed me. They must be gods. ”Says the cat:“ They love me, they care for me, they feed me. I have to be a god. ”Only cat owners tell the joke. Just as they like to buy calendars, bags, mugs and other decorative items that are decorated with the mantra of human submission to cats: "Dogs have masters, cats have servants".
In Berlin they are likely to have a particularly large number of servants. Even if nobody really knows how many cats live in Berlin. There are only figures for the whole of Germany: at least one cat lives in 23 percent of German households. They are the favorite pets of the German citizens. With 14.8 million they easily displace the dogs (9.4 million) in second place.
"Statistically speaking, there are far more cats than dogs in Berlin," says Burkhard Appelt, chairman of the Berlin cat association Pro-Kat. But he doesn't know exactly how many there are either. There is no official census. Unlike dogs, cats do not pay taxes. And they don't need liability insurance either.
In addition, most of the animals cannot be seen. You live exclusively in the apartment. Those who are allowed outside are usually out and about at night. And even the wild strays are almost invisible. The Animal Welfare Association estimates that there are around 10.00 animals. They have withdrawn to commercial yards or cemeteries, the animals are shy, they hide during the day.
Most cat owners are female
But even without an official cat census it is clear: Berlin is a cat city. There is not just one, but two cat cafés on the Spree. Berlin is the most important market in Germany for the catsitter brokers of "Cat in a flat". The capital is also ahead when it comes to shopping. Those who like sustainable consumption can stock up in the Sonnenberg department store for dogs and cats - a kind of Manufactum for animals with organic food, toys made from natural materials and high-quality care offers.
Sustainability and organic quality have their price. A cat brush costs 26 euros, the sachet of wet food 1.39 euros. If you want, you can also buy your cat designer furniture from KaDeWe, such as a cat couch for 900 euros or a scratching post for 800 euros. Although experience has shown that cats prefer to shed their masters and mistresses' beds.
Women are in the majority. Most cat owners are female. According to the animal psychologist Dennis C. Turner, cats have a better relationship with women than with men because women talk more to their companions and sometimes sit on the floor to play with them. Cats don't like communication from above at all.
“You can't tell a cat anything,” says Appelt, “but you can teach it something.” Unlike the dog, the cat always retains a bit of independence. "The relationship is on an equal footing, you have to develop a friendship with a cat," says Germany's best-known cat whisperer Birga Dexel. No animal can dump a person as laconically as a cat. "When we show something to dogs, they watch while cats look out the window," the British professor of anthrozoology, John Bradshaw, once told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".
For a little bit of love
The cat is the only animal that has managed to subordinate itself to humans. Cat people get up late at night to let their darling in or out. Even several times. If necessary, cat owners wait a while at dawn until the cat decides whether or not they really want to leave the house. They willingly open a new sachet of food when the cat stares at the contents of the freshly filled bowl with accusatory eyes. Sometimes persistent petting is also necessary so that the cat can eat its meal. And all for a little bit of love. For the fact that the four-legged friend decides to accept the two-legged friend as a friend. Because that is not a matter of course.
Every cat is a personality. Cats have their own mind, they are self-sufficient, athletic and graceful. There is a little tiger in every house cat. Birds and mice feel this in their vicinity, but also people who are punished with bloody scratches for unwelcome pats. "The cat is the only four-legged animal that has persuaded people that they must receive it, but that they do not need to do anything", Kurt Tucholsky once scoffed. It is well known that people particularly value what they have to work hard for. Like a cat's love.
First dates in the cat parlor
On YouTube, cat films are click monsters - for different reasons. Cat lovers watch films of cute little kittens. Cat haters click on videos in which cats stumble clumsily through the area or pop in front of doors after jumping in an accident. Some cats like "Bob the Stray" even make it to the cinema. Cats are beautiful. Unfortunately, according to science, dogs are more intelligent.
The neurobiologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel from the US Vanderbilt University has found that dogs have almost 530 million neurons in the cerebral cortex, cats only 250 million (humans have 16 billion). For this, cat owners are educated above average. They are more likely to have a college degree than other pet owners. And they are fascinated by their animals.
[In our people newsletters we report weekly from the twelve Berlin districts. You can order the newsletter free of charge here: people.tagesspiegel.de]
Berliners and visitors to Berlin are so fond of cats that they even seek closeness to their four-legged friends outside of their home, for example in the cat café. There is "Pee Pee's" in Neukölln and the café "Zur Mieze" in Wilmersdorfer Straße, where six Ukrainian street cats live. The head is the doctor of biologist Caroline Braune. Three and a half years ago she turned her back on Hamburg and the university and " I did what makes me happy, ”says the 36-year-old.
The business is doing well. People who are newly in love often move their dates to the cat parlor, and there are a surprising number of men among the customers. Families come too, but there are rules: children under ten are not allowed in the cat café, more than two children are not allowed at once. The top priority, says Braune, is the protection of cats. Anyone who disturbs Ali, Jewels or Kenzo in deep sleep, pulls the cats' tails or otherwise bothered them, will be admonished - regardless of whether they are children or adults. This is often not well received by the guests, but it is necessary. “People don't like to be told,” reports Braune. But she doesn't care. "I always say you can go anytime, but the cats stay here."
Cats as masters, humans as servants
Even cats that do not live in cafés are reluctant to leave their territory. This is always a problem when the cat owners want to go on a trip. Cat boarding houses and hotels offer accommodations for every budget and taste, even single rooms and wellness offers. But for many animals moving temporarily is stressful, they prefer to stay at home. What to do if neighbors or friends fail as custodians?
Berlin wouldn't be Berlin if it weren't for a solution from the Internet for that too. “Cat in a flat” brings cat owners and sitters together. The cat sitters come to the apartment, and if you wish, they can stay there as well. The service costs at least ten euros a day, the exact prices are set by the sitters. "Cat in a flat" collects a service fee from them. A meeting of cat owners and sitters and the cats to be sitter is mandatory prior to the assignment.
The project was started four years ago in London by cat owners Julie Barnes and Kathrin Burckhardt. The service has also been available in Berlin for around a year, and Kathrin Burckhardt now also lives here. “Berlin is our stronghold in Germany,” she says. Around half of German sales come from the capital. Several thousand sitters are waiting in Berlin for orders from cat owners.
So also the young man from Zehlendorf, who offers his services on the portal. Cats are his passion, he writes. His two "fight cuddles" would let him live with them for seven years. The cats as masters, humans as servants - the man should be ideally qualified for the sitter job.
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