By guest blogger Lizzy Dening “Are you a cat or a dog person?” In my opinion, this need be the only question at job interviews, telling you all you need to know about the applicant’s work ethic. For whilst one can work doggedly, can one “work like a cat”? In fact, the very term “wild-cat strike” tells you all you need to know. Lately the term has had increased usage, as Gordon Brown condemns ‘wildcat strikes’, as awkward and unhelpful. But, by definition this is the whole point of a wildcat strike: “An employee work stoppage that is not authorized by the union to which the employees belong.” As a cat owner, I can identify with the dismayed feeling that my beloved pet has not been “authorized” to kill robins/kick cat litter over floor/be sick on my bed.
But, surely one who can go from purring to clawing within nano-seconds, and still remain adored, must be working something. Behaviour like this has led to the black cat being adopted as a symbol of anarchy, and radical unions. In particular, the angry mog (pictured above) designed by Ralph Chaplin, a leading member of the Industrial Workers of the World. This was the first American union to recruit both women, and people of varied races. Ironic, perhaps, that the solitary cat could become a universal symbol for a diverse group.
Animals as images of rebellion makes me consider George Orwell, and what the cat in Animal Farm has to tell us about cattitude. She appears only briefly, joining the Re-education committee, with that short-term vigour associated with cats, and tries to persuade her “comrade”, the sparrow, to sit on her paw. I can’t help thinking Orwell could have given bigger roles to his feline character: as a selfish advisor not wanting to get her paws dirty. Perhaps buttering up the pigs for as long as advantageous, but keeping one yellow eye on the long game. In the employment world, there is safety in dog-types, with loyalty and drooling earnestness. But, personally, I’ll be hiring the cats. After all, there is something admirable in a creature who makes you do the running. In a dog-eat-dog world (and I’m looking for the one stealing tuna from my plate) it pays to sometimes let the cat out of the bag, and into the office.