When it comes to the question of whether dogs or cats are the better pets, people tend to have very strong opinions. “Cat people” defend the animals as if they were their children. Cats, they insist, are beautiful, affectionate, elegant, and ideal because they require little care. Dog fans, on the other hand, say that no pet can offer affection and companionship like a dog. They are more loyal and more caring than most human beings, and clearly the superior pet. A great deal of this debate is naturally based on personal preference and experience. However, and even as cats certainly have a good deal to recommend them as pets, the dog is the better one and for one main reason. Ultimately, dogs provide what no cat can; the relationship that is stronger and more satisfying, and because the needs of dogs to be cared for by their owners brings out the best in those owners.

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Before the quality of dogs can be fully appreciated, it is important to recognize that cats are truly excellent pets for many people. They are far more independent than dogs, which means that they do not demand a great deal of attention. Then, cats have a nature all their own and despite the differences in breeds. They are mysterious and secretive, and they tend to symbolize for their owners the qualities those owners seek to have themselves. As the cat is often aloof and single-minded, the owner enjoys having these qualities as a reflection of themselves (Franklin 101). There is also the important reality that cats are usually very sleek and physically attractive. They have an elegance of appearance and movement not often seen in dogs, and owners appreciate how the cat gracefully moves and rests. Added to this is that cats may be very playful, either with the owners or just amusing themselves with small toys or any object they can focus on for fun.

All of the above, however, centers on one reality. In plain terms, the independence of the cat is so strong, there is the sense that the owner is not actually necessary to it, except in terms of providing shelter and food. This is why cat lovers tend to be known as “cat people”; they admire the animals more than they love them, it seems, and likely because love does not exist for cats as it does for dogs. Many cat owners would argue with this and claim that they are extremely close to their cats but, generally speaking, there is a distance between the cat and the owner. If they become involved with what the owner is doing or show affection, there is still the sense that this is choice and nothing essential to the animal. With dogs, conversely, there is a real and consistent need to have a relationship with the owner. Dogs are pack animals; they look to an “alpha” and this is the owner’s role. This goes beyond respect. Dog behaviors are actually in place to create bonds of affection with humans (Serpell 164). They live to please humans. This in turn leads to owners as making the efforts to return the affection, and add meaning to the relationships. Even the tired owner will pet and play with the dog, and then find themselves feeling better about life in general. Put another way, the nature of the dog to be affectionate brings out the best in people, because it brings out the most caring qualities of being human.

Other qualities of dogs reinforce why they are better pets. To begin with, and as many parents know, dogs are excellent in teaching children responsibility, and the needs of a cat simply cannot supply this. The child will plead for a dog, the parents will reinforce that this means their taking on the responsibility to care for it, and a kind of life lesson is created when the dog comes into the home. Children learn that love is not all about play; it means providing real care, as it means taking the dog for a walk when the child is tired or wants to do something else. At the same time, the dog never fails to reward any show of care, from a simple petting to a meal, with a strong expression of unconditional love. None of this is possible with cats, simply because a child is free to ignore a cat, and because the cat is unconcerned with the relationship and has fewer care needs. The dog then enhances life for families because its basic nature requires commitment, and children need to learn about the responsibility of commitment.

The requirements of dogs aside, they also offer a practical quality cats cannot. In plain terms, a cat is no form of protection for the owner or the home. Even a small dog, however, may have a bark that will discourage would-be intruders. From outside a door, in plain terms, a Dachshund may sound like a Doberman. Larger dogs, aware of their size and power, serve this role more directly. As they are completely attached to the owners who care for them, they will attack anyone threatening them, and this is true of dogs in general. It is established that dogs with no training in protection will instinctively do whatever they can to help the owner or family in trouble (Childs 160). This also goes beyond the actual protection. It affirms the power of the relationship between the dog and the owner, and the quality of unconditional love that the dog will give. Once again, then, if dogs are more demanding in terms of care, what they return – and the care itself – help people to actually become more human and caring.

It is ironic, but what makes cat owners so love their pets explains why dogs are superior as pets. The cat is, beyond anything else, independent. It asks very little of its owner, and in terms of both practical care and affection. It may offer affection, but it does so only on its own terms, as cat owners know very well. If this is attractive to many, it is also a fixed and highly limited relationship between owner and pet. The dog is not nearly so independent, as its nature actually relies on creating affection and serving the human owner. The dog is really all about love. This may be tiring at times, but any real relationship is sometime tiring, and children learn this important lesson in caring for dogs. The animals offer protection that no cat can provide, but what matters more is that the dog, by virtue of its needs and its need to love, creates the better owner. Dogs give to humans what no cat can offer; the loving relationship that is stronger and more satisfying, and because the needs of dogs to be cared for by their owners brings out the best in those owners.

  • Childs, Nathan B. Shaping the Wolf Within Your Dog. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2004. Print.
  • Franklin, Adrian. Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity. Thousand Oaks: SAGE, 1999. Print.
  • Serpell, James. The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People. London: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.