Pets: The choice between a cat or a dog – Part 6

Cats and dogs offer pet owners different degrees of companionship and personal satisfaction. Most pet owners agree that their cat or dog is the best pet in existence and this is normal because the pet is an extension of their family. However, which one, cat or dog,is man’s best friend from a historical perspective is open for debate.

Dogs tend to be needy and they do have to be walked and loved regularly. Cats on the other hand tend to prefer solitude and often only seek out occasional affection. Dogs are certainly more loyal in most respects and have the upper hand in terms of intelligence. They can remember up to 50 commands and learn quickly. Cats remember far fewer commands and many are unable to recognize their owner by sight alone. Meaning if you leave your house and close the door the cat does not understand that you are still outside the door. Dogs on the other hand understand that you will be coming home and anticipate your arrival. However, as we will see cats may have the favorable upper hand from an historical perspective.

Cats were probably the first domesticated animals and have been linked to human activity for over 9,500 years. This mutualistic relationship developed because as humans moved to an agrarian society cats became a critical force in protecting harvests and livestock from vermin. Cats were so valued during early societies that they were also worshiped and given high status in society and culture. During the Middle Ages cat populations declined because of the belief by religious leaders that they were evil. This decline more than probably led to an explosion of the rat population. Where there rats there were fleas, where there were fleas there was the plague. The plague killed millions of individuals and this tragedy may have been avoided if more cats were kept to hunt down one of their most favorite prey, rats.

Farms traditionally keep a pack of cats around and good mousers are still a prized asset. Why? The same reason that cats were domesticated thousands of years ago. Cats are mice and rat killing machines. Two breeding mice can produce 500 offspring in just 21 weeks. In fact rodent control, which otherwise requires costly and potentially harmful poison, is the main factor why outdoor cat populations are tolerated.

Scientists think that dogs were domesticated in China from a small pack of wolves almost 15,000 years ago. It is hard to believe but genetic analysis reveals that 95% of all dogs are probably

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