The perfect pet depends a lot on individual needs. Some of us prefer cats for several reasons related mainly to our lifestyle and personalities. So, the ideal pet for me might not be the perfect one for you, and vice-versa.
Cats and dogs are entirely different animals. As pets, cats are quieter, cheaper to raise, take less space, easier to potty train, and are comfortable staying indoors.
Some people hate cats because they want them to behave more like dogs. Some people hate dogs because they are not like cats. But that is like asking an eagle to act like a turtle, and it is not going to happen because they are different animals. Once we finally understand that each animal behaves differently, we will appreciate each for their qualities and personalities.
Let’s start with the basic knowledge about cats, and then we will continue learning more about those beautiful, furry felines.
In this article, the cat we refer to is the “domestic cat,” whose scientific name is “Felis catus.” It is the single domesticated species in the “Felidae family,” it receives that name to distinguish it from the other, not-so-domestic, wild members of the family.
They are small, carnivorous mammals who are great hunters and excellent for companionship.
The domestic cat looks very similar to the other members of the felid species. They are smaller but are flexible and strong, have quick reflexes, retractable claws, sharp teeth, very good night vision, and a well-developed sense of smell.
Size: The domestic cat has an average of 18-inch head-to-body length with a 12-inch tail. They stand 8 to 10 inches in height and weigh 9 to 11 pounds. Males usually are larger than females.
Claws: Claws are a helpful tool in cats. They are retractable, and in a relaxed position, are wrapped with the fur and skin around the paw.
Cats may extend their claws in self-defense, hunting, kneading, or for extra traction on smooth surfaces. They can voluntarily extend them on one or more paws.
Most domestic cats have four claws on their rear paws and five on their front.
Vision: Cats have great night vision, way better than us humans, with slit pupils that allow them to focus bright light without distortion. With low light, the cat’s pupils expand to cover most of the shown surface of its eyes.
Hearing: The domestic cat’s hearing can detect a wide range of frequencies. In addition, its large movable outer ears enhance sensibility and amplify sounds to help detect noise location.
Smell: Cats possess a powerful sense of smell. One of the reasons is that they have parts of their olfactory system well developed.
They can even sense certain aromas that humans can’t.
Taste: In taste, we humans win. The human tongue has 9,000 taste buds, and the cat’s tongue has only approximately 470. They can’t taste sweet flavors as well. So we win in that category by far. Instead, their taste buds react to bitter tastes, acids, and protein.
Whiskers: Cats have a bunch of movable whiskers distributed in their bodies, particularly in their faces. They are very helpful in providing cats with a lot of information about the location of objects in the dark and the width of gaps by direct touching or sensing air currents.
Whiskers also help to protect the eyes from injury because they trigger protective blink reflexes.
Behavior: Domestic cats can be more active in the morning and at night. However, that can vary and can be associated with the part of the day with most human activity in the house.
Cats sleep on average 13 to 14 hours a day. Some can go up as much as 20 hours daily.
Lifespan: The average lifespan of cats, as in 2018, was 15. 1 years.
Neutering a domestic cat can expand its lifespan. Can even duplicate it because castrated males cannot develop testicular cancer, and spayed females can’t develop ovarian or uterine cancer. In both cases, they have a low risk of developing mammary cancer.
As of 2021, there are approximately 220 million owned domestic cats and 480 million stray cats worldwide.
Why Is The Cat The Best Pet?
Cats are very independent pets. They don’t rely on us much to perform many of their routine activities. They are very loving with their owners and people they trust and can either calm us down or provide fun to play.
There have been some health benefits reported specific to owning a cat. Let me share them with you:
- Lower anxiety and stress. One session of playing or petting a cat can change a sad day into a happy one. Our cat’s purr can lower your blood pressure and calm your nervous system
- Improve our cardiovascular well-being. Cat owners have reported a lower risk for stroke and heart disease
- Prevent allergies. It is very popular that cat hair is a common allergen. Still, if a child is presented to cats within the first years, they are more likely to develop an immune system that fights cat allergies and other kinds too
- Decrease feelings of loneliness. Domestic cats make excellent companion pets. They give love that can be similar to many human friends
Why Cats Are Better Pets Than Dogs
This long debate between cats and dogs has been going on for a while. Dog lovers say dogs are better and cat lovers the same. Both express their points, and both are valid. Here is a list of what I personally think is the best about cats. It is based on research and personal experience since I proudly own a female cat:
Cats Don’t Take up Much Space: The average adult cat size is 18-inch head-to-body length with a 12-inch tail. They stand 8 to 10 inches in height. That size is very well manageable in most spaces and small apartments. So, points for cats against Rottweilers.
Owning a Cat Is More Affordable: Both animals can be adopted in shelters, but adoption fees for cats are lower.
Dogs require more supplies and services than cats, including leashes, crates, training classes, and collars. Routine vet expenses tend to be higher for dogs.
Dogs tend to destroy their toys more, and we need to buy more expensive ones to resist the damage. Cat’s toys are cheaper.
Cats Are Happy Indoors: Dogs can’t have an indoor-only lifestyle. They need exercises to burn energy, but it is not all the time we have the opportunity or outdoor space to walk them.
Cats don’t need walks as much as dogs. They are happy looking outside the window at birds and other animals.
Cats Are Quieter: Big points for cats here too. Every dog owner must admit that continuous barking can be pretty annoying. It doesn’t matter the reason why.
Cats make noises, but a purr or a meow is not as close as a bark in a noise competition. And with time, we learn to differentiate an “I’m hungry” meow to a “pet me human!” meow.
Cats control Pests: Cats are hunters, so they will hunt whatever moves in our house. Also, cat scent keeps rodents away.
Cats are easier to potty train: Points for the cats here too. It is way easier to show a cat the litter box than to teach a dog where to go or go for a walk. Remember, sometimes it might be hot or cold outside. But we will still have to take the dog out.
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Cats keep themselves Clean: Cats are self-cleaning machines that are always in action. They only need grooming and nail clipping. The rest is up to them.
Kittens Need Less Work: Both require a lot of time and attention. It is all a learning and adapting process. But puppies require more training time for everything. Kittens learn faster to go to the litter box, and you can leave them unsupervised faster.
Cats make less of a mess while drinking water: It is a scientific fact that cats are more efficient water drinkers than dogs. They dip their tongues in the water four times softer than dogs. As a result, when they take a drink, its tongue doesn’t pierce the water’s surface; it forms a funnel that lifts water, with force up to twice that of gravity. On the other hand, a dog will sloppily crash its tongue into the water bowl like a cannonball with force up to four times that of gravity.
Cats are great hosts: If we receive someone over for a visit or for a weekend sleepover, a dog may become a little annoying depending on the training and personality. They can jump on the guest, bark at them, hump them, or even pee at them in a sign of territorial marking (it happened to me once, a Rottweiler urinated on me in front of some kids, while I was unable to stop her. It was embarrassing).
Cats won’t behave like that. They will just hide and then come out when ready to say hello. And will not jump on anybody, probably.
Cats are independent: They don’t demand attention all the time. Even if we love to be there for our pets, there are going to be a couple of occasions we would just want our space. Cats respect that perfectly.
Depending on our needs, a cat can be a better pet than a dog. A cat is a perfect fit if we want a low-maintenance, small, silent, clean, independent couch potato pet. They demand attention but enough to keep your personal life flowing with a lot of daily obligations.
If you don’t have a cat, adopt one right now. There are tons of kitties waiting to love a great owner like you. You won’t regret it.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.