Despite so much hullabaloo about dogs, dog fights, abandoned dogs, stray dogs and malnourished or maltreated dogs in the Bahrain Press you do not really get to see dogs in certain parts of the island. There is no trace of any dogs [except pets on leash] in Adliya, Zinj, Juffair, even Gudaibiya, Manama or Busaiteen. The menace seems to be confined to the outskirts of the capital or certain villages.
This aspect of dog-free areas brings into focus those lovely, stylish, adorable felines. Yes, cats rule the roost in all these areas mentioned above, in addition to the areas where dogs do prowl about, because with their sharp survival instincts developed over millennia the clever cats know how to outwit the stupid dogs.
Only the other day, at a friend’s place in Jurdab, I noticed a cuddly cat basking in the sun on top of a wall, leisurely and nonchalantly licking its paws, while a hefty dog barked its guts out as if that would persuade the snooty one to walk into its jaws!
But in the dog-free areas they indeed have a free run, sitting around in knots close to garbage skips, or atop parked vehicles, or lurking under them. And if you notice, unlike the dogs who have this habit of barking at the smallest pretext, cats rarely utter a meaow unless they are hungry or want attention for some reason. Else they remain silent and operate silently and stealthily. I often wonder why they sit around garbage skips without exchanging any pleasantries, merely staring at each other. Do they exchange notes, thoughts and ideas telepathically?
Interestingly, unlike dogs, cats play around with their own species but rarely. I say rarely because I have noticed them playing and fooling around on occasion in the park close to the Marina Club. They would approach each other, gently touch foreheads, glide past each other as they rub their bodies and the day’s greetings over, off they go running after each other, climbing trees or bounding across grassy patches. When hungry they’d either jump into one of the garbage bins or, more often than not, sit circling a picnicking family at a discreet distance, patiently waiting for stray crumbs as they are flung in their direction.
Cat-watching can be fun indeed because cats are proud, independent, self-sufficient and uncommandable – unlike dogs which come running to you if you just whistle in their direction and grovel at your feet even if you give them nothing. As a friend commented: Dogs need masters while cats need servants.