When I come home on any given day, I know exactly how my cat and my dog will react. As soon as she hears me whistle, my dog, Jessie, will come running to meet me, even if she was sound asleep a moment ago. Her whole body shakes with the excitement of my arrival, and she often carries a toy with her, just in case I am available to play. Nine times out of ten, my cat, Nilah, doesn’t bother to appear. When she does grace me with her presence, it is because she was already on her way through the house, not because she is greeting me.
If you are considering acquiring a pet, get a dog. The lady at the pet store with a dozen kittens in the window may try to convince you otherwise; holding a ball of fluff up to you and divulging the secret that cats take less work than dogs. This may be true, especially while dogs are in the puppy stage, but it should not sway you. The lady at the pet store is withholding information that will return to haunt you in the future. Cats are capable of diabolical acts.
With proper training, equipment, and love, dogs will engage in constructive activities only. Fetching newspapers, slippers, and balls, or keeping an eye out for errant children are only a few activities dogs love. Cats are liable to wreak havoc upon your living room at any time, and destroy more than just the furniture. Oh, the lady at the pet store says, declawing is a safe procedure, and if you use this Super-Clean-Fresh-And-Hygienic cat litter, your cat is guaranteed to never pee on the carpet. This is a lie. You may deprive your cat of claws, but it will find other methods of destruction, such as eating the family bird, or overturning a cup of water onto the only copy of your incredibly important business report. You may use the Super-Clean-Fresh-And-Hygienic litter, but your cat will pee on the carpet anyway, and then pee on the couch too, for good measure. Keep in mind the fact that cat urine is a great deal more smelly than dog urine.
A dog will keep you exercising and healthy by asking for a walk every time you sit down, or a round of Frisbee, or a game of tug-of-war. Dogs will stay by your side all day, and are ready for anything. A cat will avoid you most of the day, sleep on the clean laundry and get cat hair all over it, and then stare at you until you make room for them on the couch while you watch TV.
The movie Cats and Dogs accurately depicts the behavior of the two species. Cats are more than capable of plotting the destruction of mankind if it serves their interests, and dogs are the best defender and friend mankind could ask for. Even their physiological nature reflects their personalities: if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to receive a lick from a cat, you will discover that its tongue is rough and scratchy, and prone to make you squirm. A dog’s tongue is soft and sloppy, and a dog will lavish you with kisses you didn’t know you needed.
There is a Diary floating about on the Internet, from the perspective of both a dog and a cat. The cat sulks its way through the days, plotting the demise of its captors, while the dog greets every new activity with utter joy. “A walk! My favorite thing! Watching TV! My favorite thing!” This is no exaggeration. If your cat weaves about your feet while you descend the stairs, be on the alert. It is an assassination attempt of the vilest sort.
It must be admitted that cats do have loving moments, when the motor starts up and the purr fills the room. They will snuggle in your lap and rub their heads on your hands, perhaps even for more than five minutes. Of course, this is on their schedule only, which generally coincides with the least convenient time for you. A dog will be available any time you want to snuggle, and will gleefully join you on the bed at the end of the day. One important difference between the two is that a dog will sleep with you, but a cat will sleep on you.
If you speak lovingly to a dog, it will get excited and jump around and thrill to the prospect of fetch or food. If you speak lovingly to a cat, it will stare at you, turn its back, and later defecate right outside the litter box. This is because you overstepped your station, in the cat’s mind. Please remember, to a cat, you feed and water and care for it because it is a god. To a dog, you feed and water and care for it because you are a god.
There is the occasional cat that shows doglike qualities over an extended length of time, such as being always loving, playing fetch, and permitting more than ten minutes of cuddling daily. This is because cats are inherently contradictory. It is in their nature to defy your expectations. There is also the occasional dog that ignores you, refuses to cuddle with you, and disobeys every command you give. This is because it has a mental defect.
Dogs do not tend to live as long as cats, with the exceptions being dogs the size of cats, and that is generally because they spend all their time loving and living life to the fullest. After a while, they have given all of themselves, but always manage to give their owners one last kiss before slipping away. Cats tend to live longer, always continuing in their miserly ways. Cats hoard their love and affection and energy, spreading it thin over years and years of life. Even at the end, cats often gift their owners with one last scratch, one last urine stain on the carpet, or one last display of condescension.
Keep in mind the effects of cats and dogs on your personality as well. If you own a dog, your personality will be affected by your continual walks and meeting of other dogs and their owners. If you have a cat, you will be prone to hibernation, only emerging from your house to sleep in the sun. Multiply the animals and the effects will be multiplied.
Those fortunate enough to own both a dog and a cat can testify to all of this. My own cat, Nilah, delights in eating plants and then vomiting in front of bedroom doors. Jessie, my dog, gets upset if she can’t snuggle with me on Sunday mornings, and is thrilled when I bring out the squeaky toy.
If you want to be adored, energized, and inspired, get a dog.
If you want to be ignored, wounded, and offended, get a cat.
(Note: the above essay uses exaggeration for the purpose of humor. I do not actually hate cats, but given a choice, I’ll pick a dog every time.)