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Cats Versus Dogs: Which Are Better Pets?

Fido barks and dances in circles to greet you. He barks when you come home and when he’s home alone. He frightens off burglars and brings in neighbors’ complaints. Fluffy, on the other hand, purrs when you sit down for her to snuggle on your lap. The neighbors never complain about her meows, but they do complain when she digs up their gardens.

Which are better pets: dogs or cats? Let’s look at both.

The case for dogs

If you want a constant companion, dogs are your animal. Traveling is an adventure; excitement is a way of life. They’ll walk with you in the forest, sleep next to you in your tent, and trot by your side as you explore new surroundings.

Some dogs have jobs. They may be guide dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, sheep herders, or bomb or drug detection dogs.

At home, dogs will guard your home, bring you your slippers and newspaper, and worship you. They’ll eat whatever you put in front of them and then some. You can train them to bark, to be quiet, to come, to sit, to stay, to lie, to jump. They can learn up to dozens of words without even being taught — which is an argument for their superior intelligence. Many dogs interact well with children and are patient enough to allow ear-pulling and other kid antics.

In contrast, cats don’t want to go anywhere with you. But try to keep them at home, and they’ll dash through open doors and leap over fences. Once they’re out, the world is their litter box — more specifically, the neighbors’ gardens are, as your neighbors will inform you.

Unlike dogs, cats often turn up their noses at the food humans put in front of them. To give them credit, cats do sometimes show appreciation to their human companions. But who wants appreciation in the form of half-alive mice and birds that Fluffy brings into the house?

The case for cats

Cat people may tell you that dogs’ personalities depend largely on their breed, while cats’ personalities are more individual. Dogs just want to fetch unless you teach them new games; cats invent their own games to play with humans. Cats display a range of emotions more than dogs do: contentment, affection, disdain, disappointment, annoyance, resignation, impatience, exasperation, aversion, amusement, bliss.

Cats appreciate and love their humans only when appreciation and love are earned. Don’t expect cats to worship you, though. They’ll still boss you around.

Cats are cleaner and easier to take care of than dogs are. You don’t need to give them baths, and they bury their own feces. With dogs, you have to scoop up their feces from your yard or wherever they deposit them. Cats eat less than most dogs do and they don’t sniff people’s crotches.

Cats are more independent than dogs are. You can leave them alone for longer periods of time without their chewing the furniture or howling for hours. You don’t need to take them for walks.

Are cats smarter than dogs? Comparing the intelligence levels of species so different from each other may be impossible. An argument for cats’ superior intelligence, though, is that they won’t let anyone teach them to work. Theirs is a life of leisure, and when they let us share our lives with them, they teach us true contentment.

And the winner is…

You, for choosing to share your life with a cat or a dog, or both. We can weigh the advantages each has over the other, but the decision of which to live with comes from our lifestyles and our hearts.

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