There’s that age-old conflict: cat vs dog. “They fight like cat and dog” is a well-known phrase, emphasising that never the twain shall meet and suggestive of the fact that these animals represent two opposite sides of pet ownership.
Are you a dog person or a cat person? You may be asked this question by amateur psychologists – the theory being that a cat person is more reclusive and introverted and a dog person more outgoing and extroverted, again demonstrating just how different we believe these species to be.
Looking at the stats, there are more dogs recorded as being kept as pets than cats. Although, cat images and videos are viewed on the internet more than dogs – it’s said that cute cats are the number one search and that folks love to see these endearing images to help bring cheer to their day.
So, do cats get on with dogs? Often you see that cats and dogs can and indeed do get along – perhaps if they grew up together or maybe have grown used to each other. Sometimes, they are able to tolerate each other, keeping their distances in a household. A lot must depend on the individuals themselves, but I don’t think we should fall into the stereotype of assuming they are automatically arch enemies.
Cats have always struck me as independent types, although I’m sure that some are far more affectionate and sociable than others, just as dogs can be, or in fact any pet (or human being for that matter).
What are cat like tendencies? I’m sure I detect an air about cats that says, “Ha, I’m a cat and you’re not – hard luck!” so, you could say they seem very confident and self-assured and indeed, very happy to be a cat – comfortable in their own skins. A quality to be envied.
They also strike me as intelligent creatures, who seem to have the world figured out – this might account for their air of disdain for less bright sparks (like humans perhaps!) They have poise, they have attitude and they have brainpower.
Another admirable quality is their athleticism – cats are amazingly agile and can perform incredible physical feats. They size up a considerably tall wall or fence and with one dexterous leap, they’re walking along the top, balancing themselves perfectly and making it look so easy. This ability makes them successful escape artists and it’s said that it’s practically impossible to keep a cat in (or out) of a garden.
Cats are much more self sufficient than dogs – they’re not so needy and seem happy to amuse themselves. They take themselves off for a prowl around the neighbourhood, not struggling to find their way home afterwards. This can make a cat a preferential choice of pet if you don’t have so much time for exercising them. They also need less space, so are a better pet for a smaller home.
So, we’re seeing why cats can make the purrfect pet (ha ha!) Just why do cats purr? Mostly because they feel happy and sociable – it’s a pleasant thing to hear your cat purr when it’s with you – a sign of satisfaction that you’ve managed to meet the standards required to be a successful cat owner (no mean feat).
From our point of view too, owning a cat can be good for your health, reducing your stress levels and lowering your blood pressure, so having a pet cat can be a win-win arrangement.
We shouldn’t forget that our domestic cats belong to a large and successful cat family. When you watch film footage of large cats in the wild, such as lions, tigers, cheetahs etc. the similarity of how cats move, interact and hunt is evident. Our own pet moggie stalks its prey in the same way as a wild puma and the characteristic movements are so very ‘cat’ like, it’s easy to see how even our pet cats are very much part of that family group.
In the wild, cats have evolved to be bigger than dogs. This is due to their hunting strategies – they need to be bigger and stronger to take on prey 1 on 1 whereas dogs tend to hunt in packs and thus individual animals don’t need to be so large. (When you stop to think about it, a big cat could certainly win over a wolf any day). So, although dogs might be bigger than cats on the scale of our pets, the reverse is true in the wild. Indeed, cats are amongst the top predators in the world.
Cat’s wild instincts can earn them a bad reputation at times – people scold them for chasing birds or rodents, which isn’t fair, because the cats are only following their natural instincts after all.
Cats can be trained (although truth be told, they’re probably busy training you!) they can be taught to recognise their names, toilet and litter trained, even agility and tricks – it’s not a matter of intelligence, just more whether the cat is agreeable to fulfil such tasks!
Back to our pets – how many breeds of cat are there? Well the answer depends on who you ask – but to keep it simple, up to 71 (The rarest domestic cat is the Sokoke, which originated in Kenya and the most common is the domestic short and long-haired cat). (Just in case you were wondering, Chartreux cats are quite rare – this will only make sense to you if you’re a Chumleigh fan).
All in all, cats bring a lot of companionship and pleasure to their owners and have great qualities to make them a fantastic pet. They’re a successful species in their own right and should be celebrated as such.
Is this the year of the cat?