There has been an uptick in pet adoption for ages, finding many new homes for animals, but it has animal behavioralists worried as pet ownership should be a lifetime companionship and not a fix for socially-distancing people who are temporarily lonely.
Though animals have always been our companions, it is important, now more than ever, to appreciate and understand the value of our furry friends.
Who Is a Dog Person?
A 2015 study on pet ownership found that dog people are more socially engaged within their communities, more energetic, and outgoing. On the other hand, since dogs are used as therapy animals, more people who suffer from anxiety and depression turn to canines for security and companionship. The reality is those who prefer dogs typically hope for a relationship in which they are the one and only: revered and respected.
- Dog owners enjoy knowing their dogs will protect and serve them, entertain, and love them.
- Dog people imagine they have a far superior pet than the cat, one who can go for long walks, fetch and bark at intruders.
- Dog people believe their pet funnier, happier, and more caring.
Most are agreeable to picking up behind their pooch on a walk but are repulsed at the idea of scooping out a litter box. The truth is, dog people are willing to trade a pooper-scooper for the adoration they receive each time they come home, but, in the end, they are dealing with the same hair and poop-scooping issues as cat people.
The harder realities to face are the obligations that come with pet ownership. Are you truly prepared to walk in the rain? To wipe down muddy paws? To leash train and possibly lose a few shoes while housetraining your new dog? Dogs are more time-consuming and require more behavior training than cats, but immediate, positive feedback is the reward.
Who Is a Cat Person?
Cat people are believed to be more sedentary, introverted, and solitary, but they may be smarter than dog lovers, according to one study that found cat lovers to be of higher intelligence as well as more introspective. But just as there are sedentary, introverted dog owners, there are marathon-running, bell-of-the-ball cat lovers who admire felines for their stereotypical independence, laissez-faire by day, and stalking prowess by night abilities. Cat owners typically enjoy the royalty-like attitude of their cats.
Cat people find greater independence with their pets. While they may have to accept the gift of a dead bird or mouse from time to time, they don’t have to walk out in subzero temperatures or at the crack of dawn to relieve Fido. While cat-lovers dodge wiping off muddy feet at the door, they understand there will always be a hairball that needs to be picked up.
Despite the aloof character of the feline, studies have shown that cats do suffer separation anxiety from their owners, just like their canine counterparts. They are loving, social creatures who need companionship and play.
So, Which One?
A cat is a cat. A dog is a dog. However, there are big personality differences within each species and breeds. The Himalayan and Ragdoll cats or the Bernese Mountain Dog and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are more calm and relaxed while breeds like the Abyssinian or American shorthair cats or the Border Collie and Siberian Husky are more hyper and energetic, so finding the right personality is as important as deciding between dog or cat. As many stories as there are of cats waking families to house fires or rising up against intruders, there are of family dogs snapping at children who pulled one tail too many or of dogs constantly running away.
Frequently, we are disappointed when dogs and cats act upon their own natural predatory traits and attack the family rabbit or neighbor’s chickens, expecting them to show restraint and/or understand the chickens’ value; we imagine that our animals think and process just as we do. They do not. Dog lovers will describe a more social, playful cat as “dog-like,” while cat lovers may find an older, more mature, lower-maintenance dog as “more like a cat,” as complimentary. The reality is, we’re imposing our own ideas on what or how an animal should be.
Apartment dwellers, those who work long hours and/or cannot find time to walk and train a dog are presumably better off with a cat just as active, outdoorsy folks may be happier with a dog, but what it comes down to is the type of animal that best suits your lifestyle. The thin-skinned, short-haired, hyper-active Doberman has no business living with an 80-year-old widow in Alaska for protection any more than the playful, high energy, loving Siamese cat should be with someone who is never home.
Impatient people may be better suited for cats as dogs require more time to become house-friendly. As many cats do not like loud, active children, your hyper twins may fare better with a child-friendly dog breed but understand that too many Labradors, hunting dogs who want and need to carry things in their mouths, are often dumped at the animal shelter for destructive behavior because the owner had a Hollywood picture in his/her mind of the perfect dog without ever putting in the training time.
Many years ago, while teaching a Rottweiler to sit and stay, our training cat sauntered by, clearly taunting his canine nemesis. The Rottie held her ‘stay’ but began shaking convulsively. The dog’s owner was stunned. “That cat could die!” The trainers just laughed. “That cat doesn’t care.” For the cat, facing death to taunt a foe was worth the risk; for the dog, the opportunity to kill a mortal enemy wasn’t worth disappointing her person, and therein lies the dog and cat. As for their people, it is the response to the rally, “Let’s do it one more time,” that defines who you are. One will ask, “Why?” while the other chants, “why stop at one?” … and you know what side of the furball you land on.
Whoever you choose, your dog or cat is unique in personality, quirks, and temperament, deserving time, training, and love to be the ultimate companion.