He was prompted to write the post based on this quote by John Hood:
"According to a number of historians and classicists, domesticated cats have probably been of greater practical value to humanity than domesticated dogs, due to their critical role in reducing the population of grain-eating and disease-carrying rodents. Medieval European foolishness linking cats, witchcraft, and the Devil led to eradication programs that may well have paved the way for deadly plagues. Karma.
Dogs may be friendlier, but cats have been more useful.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program, more political but probably less controversial."
Here's what John responded with:
Of course, Hood would have to go for the "cats eat rats" angle because that is the only service cats have provided to mankind aside from perhaps keeping the loonier members of the "crazy cat lady" set distracted so that they don't poison the neighborhood children.
On the other hand, dogs also kill vermin, have helped humans hunt for food, have served as guard dogs, track people, act as guide dogs for the blind, and have helped humankind in warfare throughout the ages.
Then there's the fact that dogs are loyal to people. They're the only animals that can fairly be said to have cast their lot with mankind. Cats? They're barely domesticated wild animals, which some people find attractive. "Look how independent the cat is!" Well, do you know what other animals are independent? Pretty much all the wild animals. Raccoons, chimps, manatees -- the only difference is that cats are just domesticated enough to hang around and eat food you leave them in return damaging things in your house and being generally unsociable.
Now, I don't hate cats, but come on -- comparing them to dogs? They're not as good as pets and they certainly haven't been as useful through history. Dogs earned their slot as man's best friend while cats are back there with guinea pigs, hamsters, and ferrets slugging it out for a very distant second place.
Now here's my take. :)
I don't disagree with what John says about dogs. They have been very useful throughout mankind, are loyal, playful, blah blah blah.
However, they can be far more annoying than any cat. They're also much more high-maintenance.
Don't get me wrong -- I like dogs. I don't have one because I live in an apartment. If I had a house with a big backyard, I'd probably get a dog. However, dogs can also get on my nerves, especially small dogs. I don't like yapping, and I don't particularly like being licked. They require so much attention, constantly. Some dogs even get jealous if you give attention to someone or something else. Some dogs will pee themselves when they get excited. Some dogs will hump your leg, something that I don't think most people enjoy. If you go out of town, you either have to put it in a kennel or get a dog sitter. Every time they need to use the bathroom, you have to take them outside.
Now, dogs can be great. It's a great feeling to come home to a dog so excited and joyful to see you. They are endlessly loyal, and with a big backyard, can be a lot of fun. I really do like dogs, and when I get a house, I have every intention of getting a [large] dog.
And now, onto cats.
Yes, cats don't show the same loyalty as dogs do -- on the surface. Cats just don't fawn over their owners the way that dogs do. However, that doesn't mean they don't have their ways of showing affection and love. My kitten, for example, is almost always waiting for me when I get home, right by the door. I don't know if he waits there all day for me to come home (I sincerely doubt it) or how he knows when I'm about to come in (I assume hears the keys in the lock), but he's almost always there, by the door, ready to greet me. The few times he isn't, he'll usually come racing from my bedroom to rub against my leg and purr.
My kitten is also a total mama's boy, but he's not annoying about it. He loves affection and loves to curl up in an armchair with me while I read, but if I want him to go away, he doesn't pout or whine or whimper. He is affectionate without being needy, and there's a huge distinction there. He's just as happy curled up in the chair next to me as he is curled up in my lap.
I don't have to take him out every single day. I don't have to bathe him once a week. Cats in general are just so much more low maintenance than dogs! I might be going to visit some family in Massachusetts in the next few months, and I won't need to put him in a kennel. All I'll have to do is set out plenty of food and water, a clean litter box, and ask someone to stop by every few days to make sure he still has enough food and to change his litter box if it needs to be. I won't have to worry about my apartment being a complete wreck.
And there are people who say that dogs give unconditional love in a way that cats can't, but I don't agree. I think cats give unconditional love; they just don't give it to anyone who gives them some cat nip, whereas dogs love anyone who gives them a doggie treat and a pat on the head.
Robert de Niro even vouched for cats in Meet the Parents!
So you prefer an emotionally shallow animal? See, Greg, if you yell at a dog, his ears will go down and his tail will cover his genitals even if he's done nothing wrong. It's very easy to break a dog. But cats make you work for their affection. Cats don't sell out like dogs do.
I think he makes a pretty good point. ;)
But anyways, the thing is, you can't compare cats and dogs. They're completely different. Comparing them is like comparing apples to diet coke. And I don't see why it has to be one or the other. Can't people like both cats AND dogs? I do.
And to close, here's my kitten. He's awesome -- he even likes the American flag! He's taken to hanging out there lately. :)