Why Are Dogs Better Than Cats? – BTC4A

Okay, I don’t really think dogs are better than cats.

But cats get less veterinary care, are more likely to be homeless, and are more likely to roam free. Sounds like lots of people do think cats aren’t as good as dogs.

I think it’s time for that to stop.
A dog and a cat are friends.

Are Cats And Dogs So Different?

Of course they are. They’re different species with different needs and different traits.

But that doesn’t mean cats deserve less care than dogs. And that’s what is happening in our culture.

It’s A Dog’s World

In 2011 (the most recent data I could find), 44.9% of people did not take their cats to the vet. In contrast only 18.7% of dog owners failed to take their dogs to the vet.

Go to any pet store, expo, or website and you’ll see far more products developed to keep dogs safe, well-trained, and entertained than those for cats.

In my town, if I see a dog roaming free, chances are good that within moments I’ll find their person frantically driving around calling his name. Or I’ll see a lost pet sign on a sign post.

But I see cats running across busy streets all the time.

Yes, cats do rule the internet.

But it hasn’t yet caused people to worry more about their wellness and safety, has it?

Kitten lives in storm sewer.

Can you imagine the outrage if someone discovered a family of dogs living in storm sewers?

Keeping Cats Safe

I first thought about the differences in how people keep their pets safe when I began reading books about sailing voyages. You see, many more people sail with cats than with dogs.

Cats are compact. They’re agile. And they can poop and pee indoors without problem.

They’re a natural companion for anyone taking a long sea voyage.

But after a while, I had trouble concentrating on the stories of people taking long sailing trips because I couldn’t stop wondering how the cat was going to get it.

It’s not like there’s much suspense. A dark night. A sleepy crew. The sound of a splash before the person rolls over. The next morning wondering what happened to the cat.

Even sitting at my desk writing this I cry at the thought of those poor cats alone in the vast ocean swimming to the point of exhaustion as their home sails out of sight.

A cat sits in a Moroccan boat.

A Moroccan boat cat.

I’ve also read about people sailing with dogs. The dogs have their share of adventures too. But people who sail with dogs equip them with life jackets, tether them to the boat, and confine them below at night. All good practices if you want to keep any animal safe.

My dog Honey likes cats. And I’ve thought about adopting one when we move aboard a sailboat. But not until I know how to keep my kitty safe.

Creating A Safer World For Cats

The statistics about cat care don’t tell the whole story. I’ve met some amazing people who work hard to give cats better lives.

I know of people who devote hours each week to Trap Neuter and Release programs to reduce the feral cat population. I’ve seen the online pictures of my Facebook friend who set up a warm shelter on her porch for the wild cats that no morsel will coax indoors. My local shelter has an excellent barn cat program that adopts out animals who would never tolerate life indoors but need someone to look after and feed them in exchange for keeping barns pest free.

But can we convince more people with pet cats living in their homes to care just a little bit more?

I remember talking to my sad friend from college. She had just come in from “scraping another cat off the road.” While she would miss her cat, she talked as though having cats die young in car accidents was normal and that she could do nothing about it.

I wish I could have introduced her to the cat man who lives downtown.

I’ve never met him. But I’ve admired his cat enclosure. His entire yard, admittedly a tiny city lot, is covered on all sides with a metal mesh frame. There are a few platforms and a tree growing up through the middle.

On a warm day, I see the cat climbing the platforms or just chilling in a summer breeze. My husband has spotted the cat walking on leash with his person around town.

I’m sure if we could look inside the cat man’s house, we’d see all kinds of stimulating toys that allow his cat to keep his hunting instincts strong while keeping him from getting hurt (or hurting other creatures). And I’m sure his cat goes to the vet for a check up every year.

Sounds like a good life, doesn’t it?

A cat in the neighborhood.

One of the neighborhood cats Honey greets on her walk.

How To Change A Culture

It’s Blog the Change For Animals. I’m supposed to have some inspiring idea for improving the lives of animals.

But I don’t know.

The CATalyst Council is working to ensure cats get better care. One initiative was to name the most cat-friendly towns to bring attention to their cause. But I don’t see that changing minds about cats.

How do you convince people who think cats

  • are untrainable (they aren’t)
  • need almost no care (if you think that you’re probably doing it wrong)
  • don’t need or care about their humans (not true)

Maybe I can’t convince anyone until I actually get a cat and start posting videos and stories of creating a stimulating kitty life like those I’ve shared about my dog Honey.

Honey the Golden Retriever asks a passing cat to play.

Excuse me, Mr. Kitty. Do you have time to stop and play?

Or maybe you’re smarter than me. Okay, I know you’re smarter than me.

What can I do, now, to share the word that cats are worthy of as much care as dogs? And what’s the best I can do to help cats have good lives?

Because if a crazy dog lover like me can come to see how unfair it is for people to treat dogs better than cats, there’s hope for anyone.
photo credit: (cat and dog friends) withvengeance86 via photopin cc, (sewer cat) Michael Cornelius via photopin cc, (boat cat) mhobl via photopin cc. Click on image to learn more about the photographer.
Blog the Change for Animals


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  1. I’m not really a cat person, although I’m growing to appreciate them through writing for SlimKitty. Great post – they are a little neglected.

  2. This was a great subject to draw attention to. I have 3 kitties and 3 huskies, and I love them all equally. Cats don’t get nearly the safety attention that dogs do, and it’s really not fair.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  3. I had cats for years, and I always kept them indoors. It’s too easy for a cat to be harmed if left to roam the wild world. It is sad that people think they are second class pets.

  4. Thank you SO, SO much for this post!!! I adore both cats and dogs, but cats are my passion, and I can’t count how many times I have commented to someone about how much better dogs are treated in day to day life than cats are. Just because cats are more independent and self-sufficient that dogs are does not mean they should be left to fend for themselves. They are tiny beings in need of just as much love and care.

  5. It’s been my experience that people who own cats and have a blah attitude about their well-being are the same people that don’t care much about other animals in their care either. Dogs are more likely to get at least one visit to the vet because of laws about rabies and licensing. Cats aren’t regulated. I am not a fan of cats, but I agree people need to take ownership of any animal seriously.

  6. What a great post! I think cats are often thought of as independent, and that leads people to believe that they can just take care of themselves. I even used to think that way, some of the things I did in the past…leaving the cats alone for weekends, letting them outside, not taking them for yearly vet checks, all things I wouldn’t dream of doing now. If I learned better, than maybe just trying to educate people more could be part of the answer?

  7. Well, my solution is to lead by example. I talk to literally dozens of people when I take my cat Amelia out even just for a half an hour. She is quite the attention hound. Wait. Not quite that. Anyways, I get comments like “I have never seen a cat on a leash” and “my cat would never do that.” I use these opportunities to strike up conversations about “how dangerous our neighborhood is for cats to roam free but I wouldn’t want to be trapped in the house my whole life, would you?” Or I explain how I trained Amelia to walk on her leash as well as to love riding in her stroller and front pack. I love talking to people about how easy it is to train a cat! I don’t know if Amelia and I will start encountering as many leash walking cats as we do dogs anytime soon (we have run into one and she hissed at him) but in the mean time Amelia and I enjoy being the “take proper care of your cat ambassadors” of our neighborhood.

  8. When I had cats I gave them just as much vet care as my dogs, even rabies shots. I didn’t have dogs at the time, so I played with my cats on a daily basis, but I did let them go outside. Growing up, I lived in the country so our cats were indoor/outdoor cats, so it just seemed normal to do it when I got my own.

    I love cats, they are fascinating to watch, but I won’t have any more. They are too destructive indoors but I would never de-claw them. Plus, I never had a cat, growing up or as an adult, that didn’t decide peeing in the house was OK. It wasn’t bladder issues as I had that checked. I think a lot of people let their cats roam because the little buggers drive them crazy trying to get out there. The ones not providing vet care probably don’t provide it to their dogs either. And of course the other issue with letting cats roam….It is hell on the birds!

  9. Growing up I lived out in the country. We had cats who lived in the barn. They would always come in at night to sleep (safely) with the horses. It was just an accepted practice back then that cats belonged outside. The dogs had a fenced yard with dog houses. They came in at night to sleep on the enclosed (and heated, with rugs for beds) porch. Why would you allow them in the house?
    When I moved to the city I acquired one large dog and two house cats. At first it was just common sense to keep them safe. Then I realized how great indoor cats (and dogs) are. No getting lost, no one to steal them, no mud, fleas, ticks, unexplained injuries.
    If people had a little more common sense (and compassion) for animals we would have fewer un-vacinated, injured, unwanted strays.

  10. It’s true there are far less products on the market for cat parents to utilize- I’ve also noticed a huge discrepancy in the knowledge about dog vs. cat nutrition. For instance, many folks still feed cats a dry kibble diet, when in reality cat’s need a lot more moisture in their diet- the dry kibble diet is causing all of these UTI and other problems in modern cats.

    One thing I did want to mention to you…there is a company called “Critters Inflatable” who makes lifejackets for both dogs and cats. They come equipped with small co2 cannisters that inflate upon impact with the water- they were one of our very first product reviews! Including the link for you because I know you’ll be sailing soon- please excuse the old photos- but the info is good! http://www.shespeaksbark.com/2012/01/gearing-up.html

  11. I was sort of hoping to read about how dogs ARE better than cats, but now I feel bad for the kitties. I didn’t realize that people were less likely to take their cats to the vet.

    I have noticed that people are more comfortable letting their cats roam free, probably because of what Jan K said: Cats seem more independent and capable of fending for themselves. Truth be told, it’s probably because cats are smarter than dogs, but don’t tell my pups I said that.

  12. Good questions. We looked at a house where the person next door had a bunch of cats. The entire yard was fenced in, with fencing on the top similar to the fencing behind the catcher on a baseball field. It was designed to let the cats have free rein of the yard, but not be able to escape. In the end we opted NOT to buy that house as I could see one of the two fools standing at the fence trying to play with the cats.

    Some cats are quite content to be indoor cats, while others are just miserable unless they are outdoors. Most people don’t go to the bother to train their cats nor will they tie them out or find a way to keep them in their yard. Also, most towns consider cats as free roamers and not a nuisance animal so their are no laws in place requiring people to keep them secure.

  13. I’ve often wondered where the slant comes from and why people tend to ‘care’ for their dogs more. I had a cat growing up and she was treated just like our dogs, but I did have friends that seemed less interested in their cat.

  14. We have our two cats, but it is a dog run home. Cats are simply different. Mom loves them and cares for them with everything they need, but my sisters and I are more human like. I think the similarity to humans is what makes the biggest difference. You can’t really go anywhere with cats either, dogs are limited, but not as much.

  15. Now that is one misleading title.. 😉 but one very good post..

  16. Wonderful post! I’ll admit to not being a cat person, at all, unless they’re keeping pests down around my chicken coop. However, they need just as much (albeit slightly different) care than dogs!

  17. We grew up with a lot of cats, and I found out in my teen years I am just happy with dogs. …but it’s true, looking back, Mom and Dad never considered taking the cat to the vet.

    Monty and Harlow

  18. I was really hoping it was along the same lines as “why dogs are better than kids” when I read the title! But, cats do deserve better care than what a lot of them get. I think that people are becoming more responsible about their pets, both cats and dogs and it just takes time to change the mindset of what we grew up with.

  19. Oh my god, I can’t imagine a poor cat falling off a boat like that. How awful!

    I wonder though, are they not cared for as well as dogs, or, it is because there are so many more of them that you notice it more? There are a lot of areas of the country where dogs aren’t well cared for either, sadly.

    To compound the problem, once cats get free, they are often difficult to catch, and revert to a wild/feral status so easily. And if they aren’t fixed….

  20. Pamela! I really love your blog and I want to talk to you a bit more than just a comment. I checked out your quilt post, and was struck with the wisdom of a a few sentiments, and want to email to talk about them more. I can’t find your email addy, so here’s mine…
    leeannaquilts at gmail dot com
    I hope you scrolled past the quilt post to the poodle post following it! Sorry I didn’t link a permalink this time. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

  21. Since joining the pet blogging community I have learnt so much about cats. However, whenever I mention to friends or family members the idea of an inside only cat people assume it is cruel and that by not roaming free the cat is missing out on something. I think it is going to take a lot of time to convince people otherwise.

    Oh and are you aware of Bailey? http://baileyboatcat.com/2015/01/15/i-got-mail/ I am certain they could answer any cat on boat questions you have. (I may have already introduced you, if not then I have thought about it) see boring and repetitive!

  22. This was great! Thank you for writing this. So true that cats don’t get the care they need. People think that indoor cats don’t need anything so they don’t come to the vet unless they are sick, by that time they are really sick.

  23. We live in a somewhat rural area and there’s a woman on our street who has a bunch of outdoor cats. When I first moved here I became close with one of them and she’d come over and visit daily for a nice snuggle session. After awhile I dreaded having to say goodbye to that cat – wondering if today would be the day she’d get hit by a car. She’s still around, though with Laika and her bad cat manners she doesn’t show up often. The treatment of dogs and cats is so vastly different. I’ve wondered if it’s because we consider cats more self sufficient because of their hunting abilities. I really don’t know, but it’s a huge issue. I had an indoor cat that lived to be 23, and when I mention that to people they’re amazed because they mention how their outdoor cats only live 3-6 years or so.

  24. Our perceptions certainly lead to different behaviors and we tend to care for those we feel need more attention. I don’t have an overall answer for eradicating our cultural cat myths but I think you writing about it here is a very good start. Perhaps you could find videos already on YouTube of trained cats or veterinary suggestions to share more of. Of course, adopting your own cat is most ideal – lead by example and all that – but there is information out there just begging to be spread. I wish you well in your new quest for education (and maybe even cat adoption!)

    Thanks for being and blogging the change,
    Kim C. (the Other Kim)

  25. Cats do get such a bad rap when compared to dogs. Great post, there needs to be more voices for the feline pet.

  26. Thanks for speaking up on behalf of all the cats – education is definitely the key to change.