Smart as cats
By Greg Jackson
Recently, while listening to a radio morning show, I heard a report that science has shown that dogs are smarter than cats. As a person who has had both dogs and cats, I didn’t need any scientific conclusion to tell me that the dogs’ intelligence is far superior to that of cats, but I listened nonetheless. Apparently, a study was done and found that the reasoning for this conclusion is because dogs have twice the number of neurons in their cerebral vortex than cats. The radio host, an obvious cat lover, contended that in his opinion cats are smarter than dogs because they have “attitude,” which is why they do follow instructions. While I agree that cats have something going on upstairs, I did not and do not, believe that attitude is an indication of intelligence by any stretch of the imagination; if it were most teenagers would be considered off-the-charts geniuses.
As such, I allowed this information about dogs and cats to digest just a bit more and in thinking about all of the things that we are able to train dogs to do (i.e., guard, protect, detection, obedience, etc.) in comparison to the cats’ most famous tricks, which include scratching up furniture, hiding in boxes and batting fuzzy balls attached to a string with their paws, I double-downed on my belief that cats, though nice pets, just aren’t as smart as people give them credit for being. When I go down the checklist for cats I think: self-absorbed, check; self-centered, check; dense, check; intelligent – not the word I was thinking of. Dogs, on the other hand, for the most part are sociable, personable, sensitive animals that will greet you at the door, comfort you when you’re not doing well, or protect you from dangers. Cats are … well, cats are cats, and after the kitten-phase, they aren’t even mildly entertaining. What I surmise is that all this time we have been putting undue pressure on cats by thinking they are smart, when in actuality they are possibly the equivalent of a person we refer to as being not the sharpest knife in the drawer, not the brightest bulb or a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
So, why all the focus on dogs and cats? More importantly, what does it have to do with Apopka?
With the upcoming Apopka elections, I have determined that there are candidates who can be categorized as either dogs or cats, and not in derogatory terms, but based on their outward personifications. However, because candidates for the most part have been uncomfortably quiet with less than six months until the City election for you to truly tell what they are about philosophically, we are left to only evaluate them based on their traits, versus their political or campaign message, and what better way, or at least entertaining way than to picture them as some of our favorite pets. In making this evaluation, you should ask yourself if the candidate can be “trained” to identify the needs of the community, or are they staring blankly out of a window and swatting at the occasional distraction. Is the candidate willing to take up your fight or issue, or are they more concerned with their own interests or projects? If the going-gets-tough, will the candidate stand firm, or will they high-tail it up a tree to avoid confrontation only to be rescued later. Will the candidate accept new ideas and ways of doing things, or will they simply disregard you and go hide in a box just for kicks?
Though the above-referenced criteria are not exhaustive, or admittedly even realistic, at the very least they give us some to gauge or to start thinking about, until the candidates decide to address the voters via a debate, forum or hob-nob. Not only are these things that you all should know about the candidates (e.g., local, state or federal) running for public office to represent Apopkans, but these are things that the candidates should be pushing to tell you about themselves so that you can make a decision as to who can best represent the people of Apopka. Residents, business owners and community stakeholders deserve to hear from the candidates and should push to have that done sooner rather than later. However, with the holidays now upon us and folks tuning out from anything other than Christmas sales, fruit cakes and more turkey, Apopka residents will only have about six weeks to hear from the candidates and determine if they are going to elect a dog or a cat – in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.