Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why cats are better than dogs

Over at Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne is looking for people to answer the following:

"1. For those who love cats and dogs: what is it about cats that make them especially appealing or endearing to you?
2. For those (like me) who favor cats over dogs? Why do you prefer the moggies over the doggies?"

So, with tongue slightly in cheek...

Cats are better than dogs. This is not a subjective opinion (though the subjective parts of my argument will come first), but an objective fact.

I have been fortunate enough to have had pet cats around me all my life until I fled the nest, and the reason I have none now is that my landlord doesn't allow pets, and, I am not in a position to afford one (seriously, if you can't afford veterinary fees and such, don't get a pet). Would my personal preference have been different had I grown up with cats? Well, who knows, but this is probably a causative factor in my subjective preference to cats.

I find cats more aesthetically pleasing. Sure, dogs can be cute, or handsome, or beautiful etc, but cats are more so. They look more graceful when they move, they look more elegant when they sleep, and basically are much more pleasing to my eyes. Whilst I'm not sure it's true that "The dog may be wonderful prose, but only the cat is poetry" is a French proverb (my only source is a fridge magnet I saw), the sentiment certainly is.

Also, cats are just the right size, and feel more comfortable curled up on my lap than dogs have done. Dogs can be a bit too big, or a bit too small. Cats are just right.

Wet cats: don't really smell. Wet dogs: a bad smell, so much so, it's used an expression of derision.

Dogs are coprophages. I know we need things to break feces down, but from my perspective as a human being eating poop is yucky, especially when said dog also likes to lick you.

Purring - I love the sound of it, I love resting my hand on a purring cat and feeling it, and I find it very relaxing. There's a lot of nonsense online that purring can heal bones and similar dubious claims (hence why this is in the subjective part - if I found decent links to the benefits of purring it would be another objective claim, as only cats purr).

In Star Trek, Data could have chosen any pet in the *entire* known universe, and opted for a cat.

I like that cats are more independent - dogs are pack animals and behave as such, cats are their own boss.

Despite all this subjectivity, a look at the evidence clearly shows that cats are best, objectively. So what about objective facts?

Well, firstly let's start with a heavy hitter: Dogs kill more people than cats.

Using google, I couldn't find anything on fatalities caused by pet cats. However, there were 256 fatalities caused by dog bites in the USA between 2000 - 2009. Indeed a google search for "pet dog kills" gives 69,200,000 results, but "pet cat kills" yields only 11,500,000 results. Wikipedia's "Deaths due to animals" doesn't even include cats. Given the scarcity of decent data on cat related deaths, but the wealth of decent (and poorer) sources for data on dog deaths, it seems safe to conclude that dogs kill more people than cats. And of course, I hope you've all seen "Hero Cat" saving a child from an otherwise potentially fatal dog attack.

Now, some may point to cats indirectly affecting health through Toxoplasmosis (after all, isn't that what killed that guy in Trainspotting?). Well yes, coming into contact with cat feces is a vector for Toxoplasmosis, but then coming into contact with dog (and cat and fox) feces is a vector for toxocariasis. In both cases however, hand washing etc can avoid such things, as can providing a litter tray for your cat, and cleaning up after your dog. We are talking about the animals themselves, not the personal hygiene habits of their owners.

Whilst we talk about hygiene - dogs and cats will both lick you, but I'd much rather be licked by a cat. There's considerably less slobber, and you can also be sure that a cat hasn't just eaten some feces. Cats of course lick you, as they are actually trying to do you a favour and groom you, much like they groom themselves. Because cats are cleaner than dogs in that regard.

Owning a dog or a cat has benefits to the owner's health. Of course, owning a dog has potentially more benefits, as they need to be taken for walks (indeed, obesity in dogs is unsurprisingly associated with obesity in their owners). Now some might argue that these walks confer extra health advantages (over and above those from cats) to their owners, and this makes dogs better. They are half right. The walking is indeed a good health bonus for the dog owner, but cats are obviously better as they can exercise themselves. This also means that cat owners that want to exercise can do more than walk or run as dog owners are forced to do - like swimming perhaps. You might argue that dogs mean that their owners have to go out and exercise, and this too is true. But if a cat owner chooses not to exercise, the fault sits with them. We're talking about cats being better, not humans. But whilst we're on the subject of humans, surely the cat owner that regularly exercises for health is better at taking care of themselves than the dog owner who does it because they are forced to for the needs of their dog (much like those who do good things because they are good being more ethical than those who do good things because they will be rewarded, or to avoid punishment, but I digress...).

Whilst we're talking about humans though, what will it cost you to own a cat or a dog? Pet Education gives a range of $4,242 to $38,905 (with the author's cost $12,468) for a dog over 14 years, but $4,521 to $18,322 (with the author's cost $7,713) for a cat over 14 years. Cats are clearly better in terms of value for money. Those this is obviously an epiphenomenon, as without humans, this value for money would not be known,

Smart people clearly know that cats are better - Prof. Guastello of Carroll University found that cat people tended to be smarter than dog people. Of course correlation does not imply causation - but it's win win, either cats make people smarter, or it's just that smarter people choose cats.

So there we have it, cats > dogs.



5 comments:

  1. A long-lost friend once said, "When a dog licks you, it's because it doesn't have anything better to do. When a cat licks you, you feel like you've earned something" I have a cat who loves to lick me.

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  2. Hi English Atheist, I read your post but I have to disagree with some of your points. First things first, I am not trying to offend you but I do not agree with the hygienic part. Whilst dogs may roll around in dead things and eat the faeces of other animals, I have to say this is partly true but this also backfires.

    "Whilst we talk about hygiene - dogs and cats will both lick you, but I'd much rather be licked by a cat. There's considerably less slobber, and you can also be sure that a cat hasn't just eaten some feces. Cats of course lick you, as they are actually trying to do you a favour and groom you, much like they groom themselves. Because cats are cleaner than dogs in that regard."

    One thing, I would rather be licked by a dog than a cat. Cats have a higher rate of infection. Dog bites are larger but cat bites are more lethal due to having bacteria. Sure, dogs have lead people to their deaths many times but cats have been known to send many people to hospital due to their saliva. Cats are not as hygienics as some people believe they are.

    "1. Dogs eating faeces is a natural part of their survival. While you may feel like gagging right at this moment, the dogs will find this an essential for their health.
    Mother dogs instinctively lick their pups, consuming their faeces. This is completely normal behaviour as the mother dog has to keep the pups and the environment they live in clean. Many pups may continue this habit up into adulthood, then repeat this behaviour to their pups as their own mother taught them.

    A dog that is enduring starvation or severe malnutrition may resort to this behaviour. Faeces contain nutritious minerals that dogs need to maintain healthy. The lack of nutritious food may be the cause of you dog's actions. Though, well nourished, dogs that are constantly hungry (this may be a sign of illness or just the personality of your dog).

    Certain diseases or illnesses can cause dogs to eat faeces. A symptom of some diseases increased appetite or ingestion of inappropriate items. An illness that changes the consistency or smell of the stool might make a dog want to eat his own stool. Sudden onset of coprophagia is cause for a veterinary exam.

    A dog under a great deal of stress may resort to this behaviour. Though, this behaviour is unwanted by the owner, the dog may find this as a 'self-soothing' mechanism to relieve this stress. However, if a dog is punished for inappropriate defecation or other action related to faeces, he may associate the punishment with the presence of faeces. By eating the faeces, he is removing the "evidence" to avoid punishment."

    "Whilst we're talking about humans though, what will it cost you to own a cat or a dog? Pet Education gives a range of $4,242 to $38,905 (with the author's cost $12,468) for a dog over 14 years, but $4,521 to $18,322 (with the author's cost $7,713) for a cat over 14 years. Cats are clearly better in terms of value for money. Those this is obviously an epiphenomenon, as without humans, this value for money would not be known."

    While it is true that dogs do cost more, but dogs can also gain money too. For example, police dogs, service dogs, sheep dogs etc. I have yet to see cats earn their pay. Sure, famous cats reciece lots of money, but dogs being EASIER to train and are usuallly co-operative have many more jobs.

    I am so sorry this is long! I have nothing against your beliefs, I hope you understand. I hope you reply soon. Have a wonderful day!

    -Yours sincerely, Rocket Roos Roos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it and reply so thoroughly! I'd still rather be licked by a cat - you may be right on the amount of bacteria in a cat's mouth, but having been licked, it's then down to you to wash yourself after. I'd still much rather be licked by a cat as it is much less slobbery, we will have to agree to disagree.

      As for coprophagia - whatever the reason "from my perspective as a human being eating poop is yucky, especially when said dog also likes to lick you."

      Just because a dog can be trained, I don't see that as it earning money. Sure people will get paid for training the dog, and handling it after, but that is surely a cost? Money is going in for the up keep of a dog, and it never makes money itself. Cats earn their pay in being good at lowering mice and rat numbers in places.

      No worries for the length of the post, I value the input : )

      Delete
  3. Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first”.
    Kitten collars

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Writer,

    This is such a good post and includes great facts - so good that i have also included them in my own blog writing about cats vs dogs as an english assignment.
    I have a cat of my own and am quite proud to be a cat owner.Dogs have never been my preference as a pet.
    Cats are solitary and peaceful beings. They are soothing and relaxing and calm you down when you are under stress. This is a major factor as most people of this generation deal with stress and anxiety issues and have trouble sleeping.
    You are also quite right when you mentioned at the end that cats are associated with smart people as most of the people who have cats are smarter than the people who have dogs (that I know of) this fact including yourself as you have shown me with your incredible writing skills which have also partly come from you passion on the matter of the subject.
    Thank you once again.

    ReplyDelete

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