Which makes a better pet: A dog or a cat? – Part 11

The conflict between cat people and dog people is a curious business that seems to provoke passions (and occasional enmities) that seem way out of proportion to the mundane nature of the choice that leads to it. I suspect that it highlights a fault-line that runs through humanity, a fault-line that, at its most base, separates those who want to dominate their pet and those who want to BE dominated!

I would regard myself as a dog person – always having had a dog by my side – but because I spent a part of my childhood on a farm, a farm full of semi-wild felines, I could, at a pinch, regard myself as straddling the fault-line and therefore able to be a little more objective in assessing the merits of both animals.

The crux of the question comes down to one obvious fact: dogs are more human than cats. In other words, dogs are easier for humans to relate to. This may be perfectly natural. After all, dogs and humans have been walking side by side for tens of thousands of years. Dogs display emotions: they show pleasure and pain; they welcome and flatter; and, most importantly, they always seem to have one eye on the emotional needs of their owner.

The ‘human’ characteristics of dogs are, of course, illusory, but that doesn’t really matter. A well-balanced dog will follow faithfully in step with its pack-leader (you), and it is a partnership that works easily and naturally. (Feline fundamentalists may say at this point that the reason humans and dogs get along so well is because the average dog is a dumb kiss-ass! There may be something IN that, but it doesn’t alter the pleasure of the relationship.)

A cat, on the other hand, is a far more complicated beast. I have always found cats to be rather ethereal and unearthly. The human/feline relationship is not a natural one. I don’t mean that in a negative or insulting sense, but rather in the sense that while dogs and humans go together like, say, peaches and cream, cats and humans go together more like… burgers and cream: a perfectly edible combination but not one likely to be ordered for lunch!

Cat owners are more like aficionados, their cat being the object of their appreciation. Cats are to be admired and loved more in an aesthetic sense. Their emotional payback is neither likely nor expected, and for the average cat-owner this is just fine, and fine by me too. Cats can be beautiful creatures, but – like some beautiful women – they can be cold and aloof and disinclined to form an emotional attachment, content as they are to wallow in their own beautiful selves.

But as this is not an argument to be won by example, I can only fall back on my own partiality. Dogs are easier than cats and they are more rewarding in a personal sense. If you want a pet simply for companionship, company and social interaction then choose a dog. A dog, properly trained and cared-for, will repay you with loyalty and support at even the most unlikely times. Dogs are naturally predisposed to hang with humans and make ideal pets. Cats, on the other hand, just don’t like us very much!

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