Which makes a better pet: A dog or a cat? – Part 9

Cats are probably the secret rulers of the world. Look at a bunch of cats sitting on a fence or street corner, and you will see that they have this rather smug, contained, watchful air about them – that’s likely to be because they are in constant telepathic contact with national governments and the UN Security Council, imposing their inscrutable catty will on all of us humans.

I’m not the only one to think so; I’m sure that other cat owners suspect this. Well, I say “cat owners” but we’re not really owners, more like employees (as someone once said, dogs have owners, but cats have staff.) They’re very good employers, actually. For a pittance in cat biscuits and vets’ fees, they agree to grace us with their august presence and bestow their affections on us (on their own terms, of course.) Now that’s what I call a fair exchange.

In the pet rankings, cats and dogs are at the top, basically. In the UK, for instance, there are about 7 and a half million pet cats, and over 6 million dogs. I came down on the cats’ side in this debate because I’m working for two cats at the moment, and for several generations my family have been faithful retainers for a number of distinguished felines. However, I can see the attractions of dogs, too; quite a few of my friends have dogs, and one day even I may well become a dog owner. Is this heresy? Treachery?

Well, no. The dog/cat people divide thing is, by and large, an artificial debate, just to get people talking and writing – it’s a bit like “Which colour is better, blue or green?” or “Which is more musical, C sharp or B flat?” Both cats and dogs clearly make excellent pets, it’s just that they are different from one another and each have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m sure that, given the choice, most people would want to have a dog or a cat rather than, say, a Komodo dragon or an earthworm (although I’m sure that Komodo dragons and earthworms have their advocates too.)

Really, it all comes down to a question of suitability.

For a young family with children, I think dogs are probably better – where there are growing kids, dogs will happily join in the rough and tumble, and add to the fun. An added benefit is that looking after a dog – making sure it’s fed, walked and trained – is a good lesson in responsibility for youngsters. There are social dividends for dog owners too – developing new acquaintances and friends is a lot easier when you have something in common, which is what two people walking their

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