The “cats vs. dogs” debate is as old as time, and a cursory look at the available information would seem to indicate that a clear victor exists: dogs. On all Internet platforms, for instance—from reddit to Instagram to popular GIF service Tenor.gif—canine-related content dwarfs feline-related content. In the physical world, dog parks have proliferated in seemingly every neighborhood, and even pop up in coworking spaces with startling frequency and acceptance. The scientific community has taken a stance, too: a recent study in Society & Animals indicates that human parents feel more empathy for puppies than they do for human babies. In other words, “cats vs. dogs” has long been settled.
Not so fast.
Cats, as anyone who has one will tell you (yours truly included), are better than dogs in every conceivable way. They’re softer, sweeter, and smarter. They’re quieter and cleaner. They’re masters at both lazy lounging and merciless murdering (of rodents). Plus, once upon a time, we used to revere them as gods. And this all isn’t just mindless pontificating—there’s science to back it up. Yes, you may have thought that dog is “man’s best friend.” Here’s proof that cat is. And for more reasons why these fine felines are so great, learn the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Cat.
Cats love humans more than food.
Over the years, cats have earned a bad rap as cold and distant. “They only love you because you feed them,” cat owners are often told. There’s also the persistent, nefarious rumor that, were you to die, a cat wouldn’t care at all—and would in fact eat your deceased remains to survive. But new research indicates all of this thinking is hooey. According to a recent study in Behavioural Processes, cats prefer human interaction to all other stimuli. (Food, toys, and catnip were the other stimuli in the study.) Can you say the same for dogs? And if you’re thinking of getting a kitty of your own, check out the 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Adopting a Cat.
And that love means more than a dog’s does.
Dogs seem to love everyone. Cats, on the other hand, are more standoffish when meeting someone new. (Centuries of domesticity still can’t eliminate the the innate caution of a stealthy murder machine, it seems.) When a dog showers you in affection, it may be nice, but you know that everyone’s getting the same treatment. When a cat warms up to you, though, it feels special and unique—like you’ve earned it. And, as we just learned from that Behavioural Processes study, no, it’s not just because of the food. And for more great pet content, See Why You’re a Dog Person or Cat Person.
They’re a permanent mousetrap.
Take it from someone (me!) who’s bounced around his fair share of mouse-infested Manhattan apartments: once you get a cat, you’ll never see another mouse in your home again.
Cats splash less.
As a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University researchers revealed, cats drink water far more efficiently than dogs do. When a cat goes for a drink, its tongue doesn’t actually pierce the water’s surface; it forms a funnel that lifts water up at thrice the speed of gravity for a splash-free drink. A dog, on the other hand, will just crash its tongue into the water bowl like a cannonball. It’s scientific proof that cats rule and dogs drool—literally.
Owning a cat might make you more intelligent.
Next time someone sparks a “cats versus dogs” argument with you, lob this at them: cat people are smarter than dog people. According to research out of Carroll University, self-identified cat lovers tend to score higher on intelligence exams than dog lovers do. (We are less outgoing, though.)
According to the Animal Human Society, average adoption fees for kittens and cats start at $47 and can run as high as $255. For dogs and puppies, fees start at $160, but go all the way up to $623! (Annual costs are about the same.)
They take up less space.
On average, cats weigh about 9.5 pounds, and clock in at 10 inches tall. Dogs, of course, have more variables—there are hundreds of different breeds—but, medium-sized dogs will weigh, on average, about 50 pounds and grow up to about 2 feet tall. As far as who takes up more of your well-earned space, it’s not rocket science.
They live longer.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a domesticated cat will live anywhere from 13 to 17 years. Dogs: 10 to 13.
Your cat won’t bark at passing strangers.
Dogs seem to perk up and grow aggressive, all bark and some bite whenever you even encroach on their personal space. Walk by a dog’s front yard patch of grass? Bark, bark, bark! Stroll by a dog leashed outside a coffee shop? Woof, woof, woof!
But this even happens outside of a dog’s home turf. Recently, a colleague of mine brought her dog, Sherlock (yes, that link leads to pictures), into the office. And while Sherlock is admittedly adorable, he growled and barked at more than one passing individual, including yours truly, on more than one occasion. While this behavior may come off as protectively cute to a dog owner, those that are less enamored with canines find it intimidating. A cat would never—could never, actually—do this.
They’re not as smelly as dogs.
If you want to conjure some instant revulsion, just think of the words “wet” and “dog.” That’s right: you know exactly what odious odor I’m talking about, and you know just as well that few things offend the olfactory nerves as much. Cats don’t ever reek like that.
They sleep a lot.
Fact: animals are at their cutest when sounds asleep. Cats sleep anywhere from 12 to 16 hours per day, which means you have more than half of your waking hours to snap some serious aww-inducing Instagrams. And, frankly, you could learn a lesson from your feline friend: we could all stand (or lay) to sleep a few hours more each day.
They’re murder machines.
Before you judge a cat’s sleeping habits, know that these long hours are born less out of laziness and more out of evolutionary coding. Cats are natural predators; unlike other mammals, who may have foraged for food, felines had to hunt, which meant spending large chunks of the day asleep, conserving energy to chase down the next meal. This is also why much of that 12-to-16-hour period is spent in a light doze. Before domesticity took over, felines had to sleep lightly, in case prey—or a more dangerous predator—entered their turf. (Yes, that’s also why we call a “catnap” a catnap.)
What’s more, this centuries-long history of violence has carried into the modern day. According to a University of Georgia study, domesticated house cats are responsible for the deaths of 2.9 billion rodents and birds every year. (So, about 40 percent of the population.) This is all to say: your cat is a biological Terminator, and we’d be swimming in rats if not for their valiant efforts.
Dogs are worse for the environment.
You may assume all of this wanton death leaves a negative impact on the environment, but ecosystems are well-adjusted by now. In fact, it’s not cats but dogs that are bad for the planet. According to research conducted by New Zealand researchers, dogs have about 2.1 times the environmental impact of an SUV. Talk about a serious carbon paw print.
You don’t have to walk them.
Whenever dogs need to relieve themselves, you have to take them outside. Yes, you can train them to need this only at certain hours of the day, but still: it’s a pain. Cats will just tend to a litter box on their own volition. A cat and its owner stay out of each other’s business.
In fact, some can even use the toilet.
True story. You’ll have to start training early, though—when they’re about three or four months old.
Cats star in all of the memes.
Cats keep themselves clean.
Cat don’t require regular grooming sessions, like dogs do. The tongue of a cat is barbed in a way that removes dirt and grime from fur with startling efficiency. Cats literally lick themselves clean.
There are more cats than dogs.
The ASPCA estimates that there are about 78 million domesticated dogs in the United States. Cats: 85.5 million. These numbers alone indicate that cats, at least in America, are more popular than dogs.
And very few of them are bred.
Due to lax regulatory policy, pet breeding can lead to anything from inhumane living conditions (filthy kennels and subpar food), to questionably legitimate heritage (“Wait, that’s not a Pomeranian…”), to serious health conditions down the line (due to inbreeding). But the practice is still widespread—and more dogs result from it than cats. According to ASPCA estimates, 34 percent of household dogs are from breeders. For cats, that figure is around 3 percent. On the flip side, about 31 percent of cats come from shelters, while only 23 percent of dogs do. In other words, if you’re a pet parent to a dog, it’s a good bet you came across the thing due to a nefarious practice. While if you’re a pet parent to a cat, it’s likely you rescued an animal in need.
Once upon a time, they were gods.
As early as 3,000 B.C.E., felines were worshipped as deities. The Egyptian goddess Bastet—she of war or protection or the moon, depending on the dynasty—is among the first. Her sister in folklore, Sekhmet, the warrior goddess of healing or the hunt—again, depending on the dynasty—was thought to have blown Egypt into existence with her breath. Oh, and there’s also a little thing called The Sphinx. You may have heard of it.
But feline worship isn’t relegated to Ancient Egyptian culture. There’s also Dawon, the Hindu sacred tigress; Ket, the Balinese “king of spirits;” and the entire pantheon of jaguar gods of the pre-Columbian Mayan era. In other words: your cat may have descended from a deity. Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, though, it can’t hurt to treat the little fella as such.
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