Which makes a better pet: A dog or a cat? – Part 6

Although I have had a couple of brief stints with dogs in my early childhood, most of my life has been spent in the company of felines. While both dogs and cats can be wonderful pets, cats have several obvious advantages over dogs, not the least of which is low maintenance. Once a cat has been housebroken, which usually happens fairly quickly, you do not have to take him or her outside twice a day to ensure that your carpeting remains clean. If you maintain kitty’s litter box, you will seldom have problems with odor and germs. You can also leave a cat alone for a few days, as long as he or she has an automatic feeder, and perhaps a spare litter box when one becomes too dirty.

Cats are quieter and calmer than dogs. Cats will sometimes meow persistently when they are hungry or in the pet carrier on their way to the veterinarian, but meowing is still much quieter than barking. When the doorbell rings, Fido will go crazy, yapping, howling and scrambling to see who is invading his territory. The family cat may stroll over to investigate, and perhaps even brush up against a potentially friendly leg, but he will behave in a generally demure fashion. My cat Felix hides under the bed when strangers visit, but at least he does not jump or slobber on them.

Cats have an independence that is misconstrued by ailurophobes as arrogance at best, sneakiness at worst. Cats possess self-respect. In the movie “Meet the Parents,” Robert DeNiro explains to Ben Stiller that cats do not “sell out,” that you have to work to win their affection. That cats are unfriendly by nature is not true; they just take a little longer to warm up to a person.

Although felines can be moody, and may nip or scratch their owners, this usually only results in a small nick or cut. If your pet dog is irritable and bites you, you may have to go to the hospital for stitches. If the dog bites someone else, you will probably be sued and your pet may pay with his life.

A dog’s average life span is about 10 to 12 years, while a cat may live for 15 or 20. I have known of felines whose life exceeded two decades. This assumes that the animal receives good care and remains indoors, as outdoor cats live several years fewer, on average.

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