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what if cats had thumbs? what if dogs could text? dr. ernie ward muses on the possibilities




I have a hard enough time remembering my family members’ birthdays, much less that March 3 is “What if Dogs and Cats Had Opposable Thumbs? Day.” In the spirit of this “holiday,” I thought I’d share with you what I thought would happen if pets actually had opposable thumbs.

 

What if cats had thumbs?

 

Believe it or not, some cats do have “thumbs”! Cats with extra toes and fingers are called polydactyl cats, and sometimes an extra finger can look just like a thumb. This genetic mutation is generally harmless, and cats can’t use this “thumb” in the same way that we do. So what if cats had thumbs they could use? Here’s what I’d like cats to use their thumbs for, and what they’d actually do with them.

 

What I’d like cats to use thumbs for:

  • Clean their litter box. An opposable thumb would allow cats to grasp the litter scoop, carry the pan and sweep the floor. Scratch that idea. Let them flush the toilet.
  • Food prep and measurements. It takes a thumb to slice and dice and grasp a measuring cup or dispense food. Of course, I’d have to mark the cup and verify they didn’t double dip. On second thought, this might not be such a good idea. Then again, celebrity cat chefs would be pretty awesome.
  • Walk my dogs. I know this sounds far-fetched and probably wouldn’t work in every furry family, but my dogs revere and respect my cats. So much that I believe if Itty Bitty Kitty (that’s her real name) could carry a leash, she could tag-team safe, responsible walks. The dogs would oblige Bitty Kitty and prance alongside at a sensible pace. That’s something I’d love to see.
  • Take selfies. Cats love to admire their regal selves. Give them a thumb and you’ll get more selfies than a Kardashian. Better increase your data plan.



What cats would use thumbs for:

  • Comb their fur. A thumb is the foundation for combing. No more waiting on lazy humans to stroke their luscious locks.
  • Program super computers; take over planet. Forget Artificial Intelligence and aliens conquering our species, this is humanity’s true threat. If you see cats sprouting thumbs, better head for the hills.
  • Hitchhike. I see a world with millions of cats thumbing for rides, causing congestions and highway havoc, heading for nature parks. That is, until cats program cars and robots to transport them around town.
  • Pinch people. That takes the risks of being a veterinarian to new levels. Ouch.
  • Open cat scratch services and kneading parlors. If they can’t program robots, they’d start making money performing these high-demand feline services on each other.
  • Rate movies and food. Thumbs up or down. It’s a big deal. Six-toed cats would be in high demand as celebrated critics. Four-thumbs up is twice as good as two.       

 

What if dogs could text?

 

I can’t disregard dogs during this thumb festival. If dogs had thumbs, they could text. Duh. The real question is, what would they text you?

 

  • First of all, I don’t think dogs would type much. They’d rely heavily on emojis.
  • Second of all, I suspect their syntax would be awful. Think Yoda mixed with Dug from Up. I’d constantly be seeking philosophical insights from my pet’s poorly phrased posts. Emojis.
  • I think dogs would primarily text nouns and love words. And heart emojis.
  • You’d be constantly interrupted at work with questions such as: Where are you? When will you be home? Is it time for you to come home yet? Are you here yet? Are you almost here yet? You know, emojis are better.
  • The real danger is if my dogs learned to text restaurant deliveries. I’d be broke and they’d be fat. Penniless and plump is not how I want to go out. Hide your phones.   

 

Every now and then, it’s good fun to let your mind wander and explore outlandish ideas, like what if cats and dogs had opposable thumbs? Share your own musings in the comments below! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go examine my cats for any suspicious articulations. The fate of our species depends on it.   

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Dr. Ernie Ward, Jr.Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan
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