Do you believe some people are “cat people” and some are “dog people?” I used to think that was true, and considered myself a staunch dog person. Granted, I love all animals, but preferred to share my life with those of the canine persuasion. All of that abruptly changed when my husband and I were at an animal shelter to get a new dog. As we were filling out the final paperwork, we started chatting with the shelter staff. Everything was settled and we began making our way to the door with our new pup when one of the staff members raced up with a tiny little kitten. She thrust the kitten into my husband’s face and said, “This is my special little guy and I want to make sure he has the perfect home. What about it?”
“What about what?” I said in my best dog-only-person voice.
“He’s a cutie” my husband the cat lover said (although I’m not sure he used the word cutie, and he’d probably deny it). “He looks just like my favorite cat Rudy used to look,” he continued, and looked me square in the eyes. That look let me know it was my decision but he really wanted the kitten to come home with us. The shelter staff noticed my hesitation and ganged up on me. Now what’s a girl going to do? I caved to the peer pressure and agreed. So we went to the shelter for a dog and came home with a cat and a dog.
That’s how I made the switch. But don’t misunderstand my use of the word switch. I didn’t switch from being a “dog person” to being a “cat person.” No, I switched from being a “dog only” person to being a “dog and cat” person.
Intelligence in dogs can be subjective because of the different jobs they were bred to do. The Bloodhound ranks at the bottom of the intelligence list, but that doesn’t mean he’s dumb. When it comes to finding a scent and following it, there’s no other breed that can top the tracking ability of the Bloodhound. Dogs and cats have different innate skills that set them apart from each other, too. According to scientists, there is a difference in their level of intelligence. But does that mean one species is really smarter than the other?
I’m not a fan of labels, like smartest or dumbest, to describe animals or people. Everyone is good at something, and we develop needed skills that allow us to be successful. A science whiz can carefully analyze statistics from a study, but may freeze in fear when presenting it to a group of peers. A chef can create an exquisite meal that melts in your mouth, but can’t fix the broken freezer in his kitchen. Cats and dogs use smarts they were born with as well as learned intelligence to process information they need to survive.
Cats do have smaller brains than dogs, but a smaller brain doesn’t necessarily translate into being “not as smart.” If you’ve ever watched a cat stalking a mouse, you see a disciplined and patient hunter that knows the exact moment to attack. The cat may not realize the mouse is food, but instinctively understands the process required to be an efficient hunter. A dog is more apt to race around chasing the poor mouse until it collapses from exhaustion.
The danger to cats is when people believe felines are such good hunters that they can take care of themselves. Kittens that were never taught by their mother to hunt, kill and eat are capable of catching prey, but won’t learn an important life lesson of survival. Lost cats have to learn that lesson on their own if they are going to survive.
As it turns out, the pet most likely to be shedding fur in the lap of luxury may not fit very well on a human lap at all. A recent survey done by the Spectrem Group shows that millionaires overwhelmingly pick dogs as their pet of choice: 58% own dogs, while only 37% are cat owners.
That’s a big difference in pet ownership from the rest of the country. Humane Society statistics show that 39 percent of U.S. households own dogs, while 33 percent own cats. But those households actually own more cats total than dogs: 8.2 million more cats, to be exact. This is because feline households are more likely to have two cats, while canine households are more likely to have only one dog.
So why do millionaires prefer dogs over cats? Are they missing out on something the rest of the country gets about cats?
Looking for Love and Loyalty
One of the theories floating around is that millionaires might prefer the unconditional love and loyalty dogs give them. A love that is unattached to their ginormous bank balance. That is something you’ll certainly get in spades from most dogs.
But here’s a secret most cat owners could tell these millionaires: cats love deeply and faithfully too. Now I don’t know if it takes longer for a cat to become deeply attached to its human, since I have always been a very hands-on pet owner. I do know, from having many cats in my youth, that kitties can love just as fiercely as dogs. Maybe it does come down to having the time to play and bond.
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