A reader tells us why cats pwn dogs

June 1, 2014 • 1:49 pm

A while back I asked readers to give me their opinion of why cats are better than dogs, some crowdsourcing for an exciting event coming up this fall.  There were lots of answers, and lots of ammunition for the “event.”

But one reader went further. Over at his own website, Further Thoughts for the Day, David compiled his thoughts into a very nice post, “Why cats are better than dogs.” Go over and have a look: it’s not long but has some good information and, of  course, some subjectivity. Among David’s points are these (bullet points are direct quotes).

  • 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.

I agree. I like to think of cats as “living sculptures.”

  • 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.

Indeed! Do you want a German Shepherd cuddling on your lap, for crying out loud? And the real lapdogs, like chihuahuas and papillons, are repugnant.

I know some reader is going to mention bird deaths. A word to the wise: don’t. We’ve done that to death.

Of course you’ll have to divide all the figures for dogs by seven, for as we know, a human dollar is the equivalent of seven dog dollars. However, the cat figures get divided by five, so cats still come out cheaper at the high end. And they live longer, too, reducing their annual financial burden.

This doesn’t even include the lagniappe of the purr, which David extols as well. I won’t mention how wet dogs smell, since David does that, too.

And, to celebrate the wonder that is the felid, I’ll append this cartoon, sent by reader Steve:



Now the “butt” thing is really novel!

96 thoughts on “A reader tells us why cats pwn dogs

  1. I especially like independence, almost a half-wild nature, of cats. Dogs have an in-bred grovelling or obsequiousness. Cats have dignity while dogs are sycophants 🙂

  2. Upon reading the comment that chihuahuas are repugnant I was initially shocked. On further reflection I realize my first impression was mis-interpreted, it wasn’t shock I felt but complete and utter agreement. That also goes for poodles.

    1. A crazy-assed tea cup poodle bit me when I was a kid. If the snarky little thing had been a normal size, I would have been seriously injured. I like standard poodles – they are smart and haven’t had to lose parts of their brains to fit it into a tiny brain case.

  3. Thanks for writing about my post Jerry. I knew there’d be Awesome Things About Cats that I’d forget – kneading is one of them, it’s quite cute and endearing.

    Also, the ultra slow motion walking when one cat spies a rival cat. Bonus when it involves fluffiness.

      1. My dog is too gregarious and free to be a Republican. She’s really a hippy of some sort.

    1. The attraction of liberals to cats is interesting. Getting along with cats requires understanding cats, requires empathy. This is because cats don’t have a well-defined hierarchical dominance structure. Dogs, on the other hand, have the pack as a social metaphor with a pack leader position which humans can fill. Because Liberals rely on a “network” social metaphor they more easily accommodate cats.

      While both liberals and conservatives can fit into the hierarchical structure of the dog pack, it requires the application of empathy to get along with cats. Conservatives are conservative because they do not recognize the social utility empathy.

      1. I guess you are saying Republicans and dog owners are all sociopaths. I wish that were true as you’d be surprised how far you can go in life when empathy no longer holds you back. I’d so be running the world!

  4. In a dog go big or go home. I love cuddling my giant dog. Probably the bigger the animal, the better it is able to handle my affections. No I’m not as bad as the guy in Grapes of Wrath.

      1. I like Great Danes but they don’t live that long and I’ve heard can be difficult to train. Horses scare me a little. I always think they are going to stand on my foot.

        1. You’re supposed to mount and ride them, Diana. That’s invented so they can’t stand on your foot.

          Then they can only throw you off.

          1. True, but am I not right that you don’t have to worry about one stepping on your toes?

            Biting your head off, trampling your corpse into the mud, sure. But who worries about an hippo stepping on her toes?

            Or…you could try an ostrich. Again, no worries about toes being stepped on, even if there’s no guarantee that you’ll still have both eyes after going for the hug….


          2. True, but the cuddle factor isn’t there. And if I were going to have a big bird, it would be a cassowary because they look more like dinosaurs.

          3. If I were a cassowary
            On the plains near Timbuktu
            I would eat a missionary
            Candle, bell and hymn-book, too.

          4. Thia is off topic, but that’s one of a set of “impossible” rhymes. Here are some others:

            To find a rhyme for silver
            Or any “rhymeless” rhyme,
            Requires only will, ver-
            bosity and time.

            Having once gained the summit and managed to cross it, he
            Rolled down the slope with uncommon velocity.

            An artist once sought a more ang-
            elic shade of the color orange.

          5. “Chimney”‘s another one that is supposedly unrhymable.

            I saw a rhyme for it once, but it doesn’t show up when I try to google it.

            It went something like:

            “With thick head and slim knee
            I climb every chimney.”

  5. Ah, but dogs also like the simple things in life such as boxes, paper bags and hardwood design furniture.

  6. Whilst we’re talking about humans though, what will it cost you to own a cat or a dog? …Cats are clearly better in terms of value for money.

    In the Netherlands indeed, because cats are silently allowed to roam free, deposit their doings in the neighbour’s garden and eat whatever they may find underway; whilst dogs are supposed to be kept on a leash, their owners must collect their droppings, and are actually supposed to pay tax for this honour.

    Wait, that didn’t make sense, did it?

    1. It looks like you didn’t read the post on David’s page:<blockquote"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."

  7. > Do you want a German Shepherd cuddling on your lap, for crying out loud?

    My aunt and uncle have a German Boxer, who thinks of himself as a lap dog but in fact needs at least two laps. So he cuddles with the front half first, then tries to draw up the back half, whereupon the front half slips down. He then gets uncomfortable with butt on the lab and fore feet on the ground, and starts the circle all over again.

    He’s a real sweetheart, but also big, knobbly, fidgety, and, to be honest, slimy. I too prefer me a cat. (On the other hand, if that cat were German-Shepherd-sized, I’d be a little bit anxious, probably.)

    1. There is of course the point that ‘d*gs’ refers to all sizes of d*g (am I the only one not breaking the R**lz here?) whereas ‘cats’ in this context refers only to felis domesticus and maybe a very tiny percentage of ocelots, servals and other smallish felines. If ‘cats’ were taken to include big ones then the comparison might be different. But I’m not allowed to own a tiger, which is probably just as well.

      (Interestingly, I saw a news item last night about some kid who got into a tiger cage and was lucky to be rescued. The same item suggested that cheetahs were perfactly safe for humans to approach – I assume this is true since the reporter was crouched down three feet from one while saying her piece to camera).

      1. Well, we’re not talking about all canids either. Even our host notes a fondness for foxes, though I imagine they make poorer pets than cats (if only because they have had no selection for tameness).

    2. Robert, you introduce an important point here that hasn’t been mentioned before. Who has ever been slobbered on by a cat? It doesn’t happen. In contrast, the slobber quotient with large dogs is very high. I submit that this is yet another reason to prefer cats to dogs.

      1. If a cat is slobbering or drooling, that’s probably a sign that something was wrong. I had a cat who started drooling – it turned out to be a sign of advanced cancer in her jaw.

        1. Sudden onset of any behavior change is cause for concern, as is anything excessive, but drooling in and of itself isn’t any more worrisome in cats than any other mammal. Especially if it’s at mealtime or while sleeping. Indeed, Baihu and I have drooled proportionately equally on each other during various naps….


        2. Yeah, Chris is right–some cats start to drool when they are kneading. I’ve known a number of cats that do this, including my current cat. Since kittens knead as part of nursing, this connection between kneading and drooling isn’t surprising.

          1. Perhaps I should have specified chronic, d*ggy-type drooling, not the occasional dribble.

      2. Excuse me but our cat is nearly 13 and she tends to slobber when she kneads you. I heard it was a Siamese trait. It seems like a hold over from her kitten days when it was a nursing behavior. She’s always been this way.
        I don’t like it. It’s like having a dog.

        1. Well, I stand corrected. Some cats drool sometimes. Not all dogs slobber. Still, when certain dogs slobber on you, you know you’ve been slobbered on, and you have to mop up afterwards and wash your hands (or whatever has been slobbered on). Even drooling cats don’t produce such sheer gloppy wetness.

  8. I visited an Open House yesterday and the cat (a handsome long-haired Persian with green eyes) was drinking out of the goldfish bowl. The goldfish didn’t look especially concerned, though maybe it should have.

    (Thinks: How does a goldfish look concerned?)

    1. That’s actually a pretty funny image. In my mind the fish is expressionless and just bobbing along with the waves induced by the cat’s lapping.

    2. Most of the long-haired Persians that I have been acquainted with – not too many, truth be told – were anything but hunters. They’ve all tended towards the dopier end of the feline spectrum.

      1. I can confirm that the cat didn’t seem very interested in the goldfish. They (the cat and the goldfish) behaved as if the cat using the goldfish bowl for a drinking bowl was a common occurrence. I would have thought the water would taste funny.

  9. Why is it whenever I pet a cat I get the open-claw quad paw grip and a determined bite on the thenar eminence of my palm?

      1. And not only MacPherson, but the whole of the Clan Chatten, including
        Macleans of Dochgarroch
        MacQueens of Strathdearn
        MacIntyres in Badenoch

    1. Could be your performance record. I have extremely good intuition with dogs and cats. Animals that are violent with others will almost inceduluously relax when I approach. Of course, I have swum after sharks hoping for the same behavior and they do not respond like that….so I swim very fast in the opposite direction.

  10. My son’s cat bit me on the arm as I was petting it. It had a small scab on it’s back with fur stuck in it, which I avoided, but never the less I guess I still managed to twinge. He sunk his teeth deep into my muscle on both sides, and in just 8 hours the arm had become badly infected with pus seeping from my new matching set of fang holes in my arm.

    I never would have believed a house cat could get it’s jaws around the thickest part of my forearm, at least until I saw him dangling from my arm as I screamed obscenities.

    I wound up getting a week long series of intravenous antibiotic treatments, which saved my arm and probably my life.

    I use this incident as a positive example when I argue with the crazies who say modern medicine in general and drug companies in particular do harm and exist just to make the shareholders and executives money.

    So I suppose you can add:
    Cats frequently offer teachable moments.

    1. I like that cats can be as deadly as Komodo dragons. My dad’s friend had the same thing happen to him and ended up on intravenous antibiotics.

      Imagine in the pre antibiotic days, losing your arm to your cat?!

  11. The fluffy factor is important to me. Nearly every d*g I’ve ever touched is hard – even the obese ones. Cats, even lean and fit ones, are soft and more pleasing (at least for me) to touch and pet. A few nights ago, I went to bed while the cats were occupied elsewhere. When I woke up, Isa, my Maine Coon, had snuggled herself so close to me that she had become my pillow – a purring* pillow. Samone, a domestic shorthair, was on my other side. No d*g could have climbed into bed without waking me up.

    *Isa’s purring is not the usual rumble; it has a musical, singing quality to it that makes it especially soothing.

  12. I sympathise with those of you who have not experienced both dog and cat. I was for many years a cat person only and then worked through college with s security company which used German Shepherds. They were normally kennelled and loved a fuss when offered. How could you not want a German Shepherd to cuddle (and fall asleep) on your lap?

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

    Ah, but cats kill more wildlife than dogs.
    Subjectively, I prefer cats to dogs, but objectively…All of the finest animals I’ve ever known have been dogs. When I was a kid, my friend’s family had a trained German Shepherd. Our independence was enhanced by our parents knowing that Hilda was with us. (Or rather, knowing that we were with Hilda.)

  14. I don’t know about cats being just the right size. Orson is kind of like a smaller than average panther than a properly sized house cat.

    1. OK, but if we’re talking about zoonotic infections from domestic animals, let’s have some historical and international perspective. The most common pathogens in dog bites are Pasteurella species. Any reason why a pathogen associated with animal bites might be called Pasteurella? Anybody?

  15. Cats are not better than dogs.
    Neither are humans who think they can rate animals in so gross a fashion.
    Both cats and dogs are good.

  16. It’s true that dogs kill people and cats don’t, but that’s not because cats are less homicidal (in fact, they’re more so). If tomorrow all cats were to magically become the size of lions or Indian elephants, many of their masters would suddenly “disappear.” Have you looked in the cat’s eyes? It’s like staring into the face of a serial killer. As for having a kitty on your lap, it’s nice until it decides it had enough and bites or claws at you. You know why we like that kitty that rescued the child? Because it acted uncharacteristically like a dog.

    1. You know why we like that kitty that rescued the child? Because it acted uncharacteristically like a dog.

      Damned straight.

    2. If it hadn’t been for an attacking dog, the child wouldn’t have needed rescuing. How many dangerous cat attacks are there every year?

      1. Let’s remember that great documentary on the evils of cats and benevolence of dogs: 101 Dalmations, where the fine canids saved the baby from the dastardly cats.

        1. There have been few sympathetic representations of cats in animated cartoons. Sylvester of Looney Tunes had a couple fine moments (e.g., in 1948’s Scaredy Cat and 1954’s Claws For Alarm), but is more often the “bad ol’ puddy tat”. Tom of Tom & Jerry is a scapegoat for a malevolent mouse but is cast as unrepentantly evil. Hanna-Barbera gave us Mister Jinx, endless persecutor of Pixie & Dixia. Top Cat was sympathetic albeit picaresque. Cats abound in both animated and live-action films as the pets of choice for evildoers, and I put it down to a surplus of d*g lovers in Hollywood. If I didn’t think he was such a dismal writer, I could almost thank Stephen King for giving us an evil d*g in Cujo.

          Oh, and don’t bring up Heathcliff or Garfield. They’re not really cats.

          1. And of course the classic Bond villain always has a fluffy white cat sitting on his lap…

    1. I agree. There is a bizarre obsession with cat-owners to keep talking about the superiority of cats over dogs. My cat-owning friends do it all the time.

      At their home, at a gathering, or on my website, never have I felt the urge to natter on about how dogs are better than cats, but I’ve seen plenty cat-owners do this. It’s even gotten to the point where cat-owners ascribe political persuasions to cats (democrats) versus dogs (republicans) or the same for their owners (ostensibly more atheists versus more religious). Strange stuff.

      1. As I said, I am collecting “cats are better” opinions for a fun event that I’m engaged in this fall. I’m sorry, Mr. Lawler, that you’ve chosen to diss everybody who has contributed. Given your remarks, I suggest that you stop frequenting this site and go visit those that are more dog-friendly.

        1. I apologize. Seriously. I don’t mind the cats are better, but I don’t like me (or my dogs for that matter) being lumped into religious/political associations that I find detestable. That part got the better of me, and it showed in my comment above.

  17. I know he said not to talk about birds, but I feel like one billion birds killed by cats every year must be mentioned (especially if you love birds like I do). Obviously that does not decide the cat vs. dog debate, but it’s at least a few points against cats. And small mammals have a bad time, too. Dr. Coyne’s unnamed squirrel better watch out!

    1. Here in New Zealand I think we have a special case.

      Over 65 million years without mammals, the birds took over, filling every niche including the cow and deer (the giant moa, Dinornis maxiumus). They put their energy into song rather than plumage, and our earliest European settlers said the birdsong was the only thing that kept them from going mad from homesickness.

      Our various flightless varieties (including the nocturnal flightless parrot, the kākāpō – now regrettably most famous for trying to furgle Stephen Fry’s cameraman, but with a population of ~65) are also fearless, and just stand there to get nommed.

      An eccentric millionaire has proposed a sinking lid policy on cats, sterilizing and releasing both feral and domestic, but has been predictibly shouted down.

      1. That’s interesting, thanks. I should have mentioned that the one billion figure is only in the United States. I have heard mention of a similar sterilization program for feral cats here, but I’m not sure if it took off.

  18. Cats not only smell better, they spell better: cats. While d*gs remind us of the butt of a joke.

  19. I’ve a big German Shepherd who loves cuddles and a small one-eyed tabby cat who loves cuddles too. Neither animal is ‘better’ than the other, but rather have their own unique qualities. Certainly the dog is top notch at home security, likes to come hiking with me and is good company when my husband is away. The cat too is good company and an affectionate little fellow. His mother abandoned him as a tiny flu-ridden baby, and we fought tooth and nail to keep him alive when we found him, he has repaid that with head bumps and loud complicated calls of delight whenever on of us comes home.

  20. In my suburban neighbourhoods at various times and places (in Australia), dogs have killed pet rabbits and guinea pigs, wild possums, koalas, ducks, bluetongues, ta-ta lizards, and damn near killed several children. (I don’t count my own serious bite because I was foolish enough to be carrying a strange Rottweiler with a broken leg into a vet surgery.) Birds that cats are likely to kill are almost nonexistent in these environments because human habitat modification (and supplemental feeding) has massively increased the numbers of big, aggressive & mostly carnivorous birds (magpies, crows etc.). I did have a cat with an uncontrollable urge to eat geckoes, even though they never stayed down.
    In the bush, feral cats are a menace to native small vertebrates, and dogs to sheep, cats and foxes.
    I prefer to keep my cats close and dingoes far away.

      1. Cassowaries, crocodiles, snakes, blue-ringed octopus, box jellyfish, paralysis ticks (!), cane toads, funnelweb spiders… is there *anything* in Oz that isn’t trying to kill you? 😉

  21. Frankly, I think the cats vs dogs debate is asinine. Some people like cats more, some prefer dogs, others really like both, and some are just freaks (yes, joke) and hate them both. I think a bigger issue than the species of pet is where you get them and I really go for rescuing a friend from a shelter over getting one from a breeder.

    For me, the big decision maker is personality. For smaller sizes, I find cats more appealing than dogs. They have personality, and lack the migraine inducing yaps that little dogs do. Personally, I like big fluffy Maine Coon Cats. If I have the room/resources, I do like fluffy dogs. The huskies really have charmed me with the general personality, the use of ‘talking’ over barking, the ‘happy tail’, and how they will ignore you at times if you are not being interesting.

    I rescued my current addition to the family. He is an older gentleman that suffers from ‘chronic canid lupus’ of the husky variety.

    1. If I could toilet train one, a Komodo dragon would be a great pet. I’ve seen them in the zoo getting scratches from their keeper & people have kept monitors and they snuggle up with them. Of course, one day, if you don’t feed him when he wants, he could nom you but that’s part of his personality. 🙂

      1. Reptiles really are fascinating creatures. Granted, I think that way about most organisms 🙂 Actually, aside from humans I really cannot think of an organism that has yet to fascinate me…

        The fact that so many people can form an emotional bond with a non-human and make them a full family member is one of the few reasons I have a glimmer of hope for humanity. Makes me wonder if domesticating animals and working with them helped civilize us. Trying to find reasons for one animal to be better than another (even as a joke) really just seems petty to me.

  22. Unless I missed a post, no one has mentioned not needing to walk a cat when it’s 10 below and the wind is gusting into the 40’s?

    1. I got my first dog when I was 35 and this was my fear going into it. Turns out, walking my dog (now dogs) is one of the small pleasures in life. I got to know my town (then Falmouth MA) in a completely different way; I was more familiar with every little short-cut, out-of-the-way garden, small park, etc. It was actually really eye-opening. Even the -10F/Windy walks around the block were interesting as you get to see the same setting in different environments. Never bothered me to take my dog for a walk. Now I live out in the country in Virginia and my dogs have 6 acres of land to run around in, but I still take them for walks…for me, not them. The border collies I own are the best gym membership I’ve ever had.

  23. Preferring feline-Americans to dogs is a strong predictor that one is liberal, according to this quiz: http://bigthink.com/praxis/can-this-quiz-predict-your-politics. Social psychologists have proven over and over again that you don’t change behavior by changing attitudes, rather you change attitudes by changing behavior. Therefore, we would have a more caring, tolerant society if more people lived with cats.


  24. I know some reader is going to mention bird deaths. A word to the wise: don’t. We’ve done that to death.

    What? There aren’t enough statistics on hoomins killed by birds? It’s still likely to be a higher body count than Felis domesticus has. Cassowaries have a well-earned reputation for killing hoomins. Ostriches and emus are pretty dangerous too. I’ll grant that if you count Panthera alongside Felis domesticus you might be getting towards parity in terms of hoomin body count …

  25. Okay, you made me post this;-)

    about what my cat did to me, that is what she did to get clammy chops…

    I scooped in one huge mouthful of savory chowder
    Swimming with succulent salmon reconnoitering
    Wild from Canada—my taste buds buzzed into singing,
    But the stupid phone in the kitchen rang, yanking me.

    I dropped my creamy spoon and rushed through the open door–
    Wrong number! Frustrated, I slammed down the white thing,
    Tended to nagging errands clanging for attention;
    But then came a loud slurp…slurping ’round the den corner.

    Oh, no! I rushed back to the aromatic room
    And there crouched Fizzy, our calico, her cream-rootbeer
    Mugged head half-buried in the scent-wafted white bowl,
    Just fin-ished–her pink tongue wiping those smiling chops.

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