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Dog meets kitten, and they teach us about power

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

I want to show you a super-funny, super-cute video that’s a delight in itself. No need to learn anything from it if you don’t want to. But you know me: I always have to be a-learning things from everywhere. And this big ol’ dog and tiny little kitten had something to say about power.

The problem is, we don’t understand power. Oh, we feel it alright. In our bones. Especially when we’re on the receiving end of it. The way you feel it when a snub-nosed .38 is pointed right at you.

But what I’m talking about is this. When I showed someone this video and said it was about power, they said, Hey, the kitten just wanted to find a place to sleep, and did. Pure innocence!

Actually, the whole video—thank goodness—is innocence personified. But it’s still a power struggle. No less so than in the most troubled relationship. The power struggles that destroy love can easily be as much about innocence as about evil. Let me lay it out.

The kitten just wanted to take a nap. As kittens do. And it probably had no place in its tiny unformed brain for the idea that this is the dog’s bed. That it was squatting in already-claimed territory.

Now up comes the dog, also wanting some shut-eye. It sees the kitten and freaks out. What the f---!!! Shock and horror! And total disempowerment.

That’s the key. It doesn’t matter that the kitten was as innocent as a heavenly angel and as ignorant as a bag of hammers. It had occupied the dog’s bed. Taken it! In other words, made a power move! Which we know is true because we see how disempowered the dog feels, based on how agitated and confused the dog acts.

Now theoretically the dog could have just, shall we say, made short work of the kitten. The dog was as much bigger than the kitten as a Mercedes is bigger than a bulldog. No contest. But this is a tame dog. It’s not gonna eat the kitten. So it just doesn’t know what to do, beyond make demonstrations of power that leave the silly kitty totally unmoved. Harumphing and bouncing around and trying to turn the bed over.

Proving that the power moves that came from the dog are not power moves unless they lead to a feeling of disempowerment, which our kitten was too dopey or sleepy to fall into. It’s a good lesson! A power move is utterly toothless if we can find a way not to respond to it by feeling disempowered because feeling disempowered leads to our trying to re-empower ourselves, which leads to...a huge fight.

Which dumb ol’ dog and silly kitty actually managed to avoid, proving themselves smarter than most of us.

So what do we learn from this lovely, fun video?

  • Power moves are everywhere

  • Intention has nothing to do with whether someone is making a power move

  • We’re always at risk of falling into a power struggle

  • We never HAVE to fall into a power struggle

  • Sometimes just a little patience, a little restraint is all we need to make things better

Thank you, dog. Thank you, kitten.

For some deeper understanding, way above and beyond the dog and kitten level, that can help you turn your relationship around completely, please do check out our new book Why Couples Fight. It has the answers you’ve been looking for.


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