The human urge to place things into neat little categories is at once a necessary tool for survival as well as a sometimes useless -- and even harmful -- instinct.
Like most people, I learned to compartmentalize animals into arbitrary categories of those we love and those we eat, those we live with and those we use.
Interestingly, we also categorize people according to the animals they have an affinity for. We ask: "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" As if we have to choose. Growing up, I did choose. I was what people approvingly call a "dog person." And I made certain not to be mistaken for a "cat person."
Even though I had never spent any time with cats, I bought into the myth that cats were aloof, unsocial, manipulative, unaffectionate and independent to a fault. As an animal advocate of more than two decades, it pains me to say that I genuinely disliked cats for the first 20 years of my life.
It wasn't that I had ever had a bad experience with cats. I had no
experience with them, until I started housesitting for a family in my early 20s. It wasn't the humans who changed my mind. It was their cats.