1. Cats are altogether less work
First things first: I will admit that the life of a dog owner is full of awesome activities. You can take your furry friend out for walks, play fetch on the beach, or teach him neat tricks. My cat, on the other hand, liked to cry at my window at six in the morning until I fed her, at which point she would fall asleep and ignore me for most of the day. It can be a major bummer if you’re looking for a companion to do fun stuff with all the time, but as someone with a more relaxed lifestyle, I’m pretty happy to have an animal that will (mostly) give me space. I spend most of my weekends going out until the wee hours of the morning, and the last thing I need in my life is to have to wake up early on a cold December morning with a hangover so I can pick up fresh, steaming poo, trying desperately not to vomit. Cats aren’t going to bark frantically every time someone rings my doorbell, they’re not going to eat my shoes or tear up my sofa, and if I tried to take my cat outside and make her fetch a stick for hours at a time, she’d look at me as if I was on drugs. She respects my time, and I respect hers. It’s a completely independent relationship.
2. Dogs give their love unconditionally, a cat’s love is earned
If you’re a dog owner, you’ll probably be quite used to your canine friend greeting you with a thousand licks and furiously wagging tail, as if he wasn’t aware you’d ever return (possibly because he wasn’t). One of the sticks dog owners will beat cat lovers with is the notion that your cat doesn’t love you, or care if you live or die. That categorically isn’t true; cats love their humans even more than they love food, and if you’ve got a cat, you’ll know they’re just as affectionate as any dog in their own way. I find that it takes time and effort before your cat makes the decision to love you, and until you’ve proven yourself worthy of that love, a cat will treat you with the apathy and contempt such a stranger deserves. Dogs are manic balls of loving affection, but there’s no animal better than a cat at expressing the sentiment “you ain’t s***, motherf***er” until you prove yourself worthy. A dog may treat every stranger with a high level of curiosity or excitement, but a cat will bide its time, watch and observe, before opening its heart to a human. To me, a cat’s love simply means more.
3. Cats are actually useful around the house
As you may already know, the common dog descended from the noble wolf, domesticated and bred over thousands of years to craft the perfect house pet. Cats, on the other hand, kind of just showed up one day and started chilling in people’s homes. Ancient DNA shows cats pretty much domesticated themselves, and that’s in part due to the fact that the relationship between cats and people is naturally more symbiotic than that between dogs and people, where there’s a very clear hierarchy of master and subject. If you’ve ever come home to find a bird or squirrel carcass on your doorstep, you know that cats are fairly efficient hunters, and if you have a pest problem, they’re really useful for catching mice. I’m not sure I’m any better for having witnessed my cat catch a large moth, toy with it as it frantically tried to escape certain death, and eat it before vomiting it back up again, but it’s just an example of the subtle sentry work a feline gets through in the home (in between its 14 hours of sleep a day). Yeah, I know that some dogs were bred for specific tasks like herding or fox hunting, but when was the last time you owned that many sheep?
4. Cats are generally more fun to be around
A common misconception with cats and dogs is the idea that dogs are dumb, over-exuberant creatures, while cats are cold, calculating assassins who could destroy you at any second. In reality, cats are just as, if not more stupid, than your average dog. Dogs are like that guy you knew at school who had mediocre grades and spent all his time at the gym, but now runs a successful bodybuilding business. Cats, on the other hand, can be like that university flatmate you had that seemed really smart or thoughtful and was doing a really complicated course, but managed to flood the laundry room by trying to wash a duvet (spoiler alert: I was that flatmate). A cat will try to jump between kitchen counters, spectacularly misjudge the distance, fall to the ground with a crash, bang and wallop, and still has the audacity to give you a stare that says: “what the f*** are you looking at?” Watching a cat around the home as it gets confused by waterbeds, DVD players or even cucumbers is a great way to pass the time, and there’s a good reason that YouTube is absolutely full to the brim of cat videos. Dogs are lovely and affectionate and cuddly, but they’re not particularly good at keeping me entertained.
5. They’re better for the environment
I’m going to be straight with you: owning any kind of domestic pet, especially one that consumes meat, is not particularly great for those of us who don’t believe that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. A 2009 book published by Robert and Brenda Vale, entitled (a little controversially) Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, talks about the massive ecological footprint a domestic companion racks up, measuring the environmental damage in a unit called “global hectares”. A medium-sized dog has the footprint of around 0.84 hectares, far more than the carbon footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser (or the nation of Vietnam), while a cat’s footprint is comparable to that of a Volkswagen Golf, probably because they’re a lot smaller. I mean, it’s not as as good as going entirely pet-less, but I’m sure Mother Nature will thank me for choosing feline over canine. Eventually.
6. They’re cheaper, too
When you take home your cat for the first time, there are some things you’ll need to pick up before. You need to get a collar, litter box, food… but that’s nothing in comparison to a dog. First off, because dogs tend to be much larger, you’ll have to dish out a lot of cash per month on dog food, but even the dogs of comparable sizes eat a lot more of your hard-earned cash (and if they get stressed enough, literally your wallet as well). Spending money on leashes, grooming training classes or even ridiculously expensive chew toys can really leave you broke at the end of the month, while your cat is entertained by a scratching post, a couple of toy mice and whatever random cardboard box you have lying around the house. They pretty much groom themselves, too. The ASPCA even backs me up on this one: a study found that cats are way cheaper than your average dog, to the tune of up to $800 a year.
7. Yes, cats are kind of jerks… but that’s why they’re awesome
I’ve written this side-by-side comparison with a lot of love, not to mention anecdotes, but I’ve got to level with you here: my cat is an a**hole. When she’s not annoying me on purpose, waking me up at obscene hours or constantly trying to knock me off balance while I fix lightbulbs, she’s aiming scratches at me and jumping up on my plate as I try to eat something. Here’s the thing, though: I love her. Don’t get me wrong; dogs are great, but even with the giant ones, I feel as if they’re mostly harmless, and the idea of mauling me never crosses their minds. With my cat, I have no doubt that she’d try to sever my carotid artery if I so much as looked at her funny, and that’s the reason she’s great. Even when she’s dragging a dead bird into my living room or staring directly at me as she uses her litter box, I know that she could destroy me if she so desired, and that makes it extra sweet when she doesn’t. I don’t know about you, but I think that most movie villains would be cooler to hang out with than the heroes; who’d want to get a beer with Luke Skywalker or Batman when you can chill with Darth Vader or the Joker? Sure, they’d probably try to kill you, but should you come out alive, you won’t be able to say you didn’t have fun.Well, there you have it, cat lovers and dog lovers. Of course, to each their own, and I don’t think I’ll have converted all of you to cat lovers. I do hope, however, that some of you making the decision to get a cat or a dog will look at the entertainment-based, financial and environmental perks, and make the right choice. You’d be barking mad not to.