Which makes a better pet: A dog or a cat? – Part 22

In the ten years I have had my dog, I have watched her grow and change, not unlike a child. She has become more patient and well behaved than I ever could have imagined possible when she was a puppy. She and I have a connection and level of understanding that is more special than most human connections I have had.

Not having owned a cat since I was a child, I might not be as well equipped to judge the benefits of dog ownership over cat ownership as someone who owns both. However, I have observed major differences in the way dog owners and cat owners view their pets, and these observations, as well as my own dog-owning experiences, make me think my opinion might be worth some consideration.

The biggest difference between owning a dog and owning a cat is the level of responsibility each requires. After baby-sitting my dog for a week when she was a year old, my parents declared that it had been much, much easier to have three children.

It’s true that the first year or two of parenting a puppy can be very taxing. Chewed up rugs, furniture, clothing, and even walls are the norm. Potty training fiascos, obedience classes, flea repellant, and midnight trips to the emergency animal clinic are to be expected.

The simple fact that dogs need to go outside to go the bathroom while cats use a litter box changes the level of responsibility of owning a dog over a cat greatly. You will never hear a cat owner saying that they had to get up three times in the night so their cat could go out, nor will you hear cat owners passing on a drink after work so they can rush home to take their cat out. On the contrary, several cat owners I know have little swinging doors built into their homes so kitty can come and go as he pleases. Another idea that is very foreign to dog owners.

Another difference between the way pet owners seem to view their pets, is how committed they are to the individual pet. Dog owners usually have a dog or two, and that dog is part of the family. It may be a part of family pictures, it often has its own little bed, and in my case, it has a myspace page and receives mail from its grandparents. Cats on the other hand, are a bit like visiting gypsies who are having an extended stay.

Cat owners seem to love cats in general. Not necessarily Snowflake or Muffin. They just love CATS. All cats. Cat owners may come home and not actually lay eyes on one or more of their cats all day, and that is fine with them. They put out the food and water for the cat, and if the cat goes darting by at some point and they catch a glimpse of it, that is satisfactory. It is not uncommon for cat owners to “adopt” a stray cat for a winter, feeding it from October to April, and then one day to never see it again. Owning cats is more like borrowing cats, as far as I can tell.

Of course there are cats and dogs who do not fit these descriptions, but the general differences are undeniable.

So perhaps it is not that dogs make better pets, they just make different pets. The loyalty and love of a dog works for me, so they get my vote.

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