I should preface this by saying that I’m not really an animal person. They smell funky, they get gross stuff in their fur, their noses are wet and they depend on you for everything. Owning a pet is like having a small, furry child, and I’m just not ready for that yet. Still, everyone knows if they are a “cat person” or a “dog person” — everyone.
Until recently, I based my preference for dogs over cats on my violent allergies to cats. Minutes into walking into a cat house, I sneeze uncontrollably and develop incredibly unattractive, puffy, watery eyes. Too much information? I say just enough. You see, it’s because of these allergies that for the better part of my 21 years, I really had no choice but to let dogs prevail in this age-old battle against the feline enemy. How can you truly love something that makes you so hard for the opposite sex to look at?
I came to realize after a visit with an old friend and his dog Daisy however, that I might be allergic to dogs as well. It is thus imperative that I take the task upon myself to once and for all objectively consider the question of cats versus dogs.
Cats traditionally get a bad rap in this game, and I think, as in all political battles, the media is partially to blame. Did James Bond’s nemesis Blofeld have a dog? No, he had a gloriously, evil-looking fluffy white cat! Yes, I will admit that dogs and their innocent floppy ears lend themselves well to the role of a loveable sidekick, but dog personalities really run the gambit from protective, to aggressive, to loyal, to cute and goofy, and to just plain dumb.
Cats, on the other hand either skulk indoors or they skulk outdoors. And while they skulk they glare. As the owner of a cat, the only way to ensure that a constantly glaring, skulking animal stays alive is by continually feeding and sheltering it. Cats have tricked many a spinster into caring for them in this manner. They ask, “Is it hungry?” I don’t know, it’s glaring at me! Maybe! “Is it pleased by the new scratching post I bought it?” Who can tell? It’s still glaring, and now it’s making a weird sound!
Dogs don’t just accept handouts like that. They can get jobs. In the home they will deliver things on command. Outside, they work as service animals, trained to help their owners with disabilities. They pull heavy sleds through frozen Alaska. They search and rescue, and they can even enforce the law — sort of.
Dogs even help their owners exercise. While cats act above human attachment either emotionally or via leash, owners must at the very least walk their dogs. Like small furry children, they aren’t capable of exercising themselves. This is fine by me since in more recent times it seems that humans need to find more reasons to get out and exercise as well. Thank you for the cardio, dogs.
For the most awful feline offense though, I have two words for you: kitty litter. Any animal that independently uses what appears to be a system of civilized waste management but still makes you do the clean-up is manipulating you. On the other hand, there is absolutely no pretense in following a dog around with a stinky blue bag.
What is the point in having a pet anyway if it is going to be as fiercely independent as a cat? When I get home I want some recognition and respect, darn it! I want a creature that will recognize my presence and at least act happy about it. Cats just sit there and glare (as usual), and sometimes they’ll saunter up and use you (as usual) for a scratching post.
I said I wasn’t an animal person, but growing up I had a dog, Josie, and a cat, Aladdin. Josie was great. She let us walk her and pet her and wasn’t fussy during baths.
Aladdin was a major punk though, and he knew it too. We had to install a tiny dog door for him to go in and out as he pleased or he would tear our upholstery during his indoor escapades. After that, he stayed out a lot. We only knew he returned to mooch off of us because his long white hair would cover the lounges in our patio. Once, my sister and I spent a day hanging “Lost Cat” signs in our neighborhood, only to come home and find him sitting smugly on his little kitty cushion. He left us and moved in with neighbors across the street not long after that. For real.
The bottom line is that I don’t like being manipulated, and I really don’t like being manipulated by something that’s not even a member of my species. Dogs are smart enough to play dumb and do so because they certainly don’t want to ruin the good thing domestication has going for them. They use humans for their benefit, but at least they are nice about it. Until cats learn to mask their disdain and pretend to be friendly, their canine competition will prevail.
Ariana Santoro is a fourth-year physics and political science double major. She can be reached at email@example.com.