Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Species Make Better Family Pets (dogs or cats)?

This was the topic of the latest Web-DVM poll that yielded the following results: of the 202 participants in the poll, 52% voted for dogs, 24% voted for cats, 20% voted for both, and 4% voted for neither.

I was very curious to arrive at these polling results, as I find that the breakdown of my office visits in practice seem to be consistent with this finding. While I have not done official analysis of the percentage of canine versus feline appointments, I can easily observe that the majority are canine. Off the top of my head, I would say that a fair approximate breakdown of my appointments approaches 7o%canine versus 30% feline.

What's more, it seems that canines receive more progressive preventative health care and are overwhelmingly more frequently up to date with regular yearly visits when compared to cats. Also, I observe that generally canines are more likely than felines to be the recipient of owner approval for aggressive, invasive, and/or expensive diagnostics and treatments in times of serious injury or illness. Considering the poll results and these trends I see in practice, I am left with a clear impression that dogs tend to be more accepted as family members than cats are, benefit from better health care than cats overall, and are more likely than cats to benefit from aggressive diagnostic and treatment measures than cats are.

Unfortunately, I cannot offer a concise reason for these generalities for two important reasons. First, as a person who has dedicated his life to the highest quality of health, wellness, and longevity for BOTH the canines and felines I have the privilege to call my patients, I must maintain an objective outlook and approach to both species. Where my subjective preferences lay, I leave it to those who know me personally to draw their own conclusions.

I always appreciate reader comments, but this is one post where I especially look forward to them. I sincerely wish to gain a better insight as to why individuals may identify with one species versus another, and why dogs seem to more often than cats receive better overall health care and consideration as true family members. Let the comments flow!

On a sad note, Bubbles, the subject of my post, "Bubbles My Inspiration," had to be euthanized today. She finally succumbed to all the health problems that she had courageously fought for so long, with her owner compassionately administering her treatments with the utmost dedication and care. Bubbles will forever live in my heart, as she will in the hearts of all my staff that was equally as inspired by that gentle, brave little soul.


Anonymous said...

I definately am a dog person. I find them so very loyal, unconditional loving, expressive, emotional creatures. With the exception of possibly my mother, no other beings on earth miss me and greet me like my dogs.

To be fair, cats can be very affectionate and I understand why people fall in love with them. I have loved my share of cats in my life, but I can't say that I have bonded with any cats as I have with my dogs.

Anonymous said...

Not clear and concise why dogs are more commonly considered family members than cats?? Its easy for me. In addition to the traits that the previous commentor noted, my labs play frisbee, swim, run, fetch, and go on my boat with me. Yet, they can still snuggle up on the couch and watch TV with me. Unless you are Sigfreid and Roy, you are not going to get a cat to do these things.

A bond with an animal goes beyond affection. When you can enjoy your favorite activities with them, it strengthens the bond, making them less like pets and more like family.

That being said, not providing health care for a cat is inexusable! Even though I am a dog person, when I have come across various exceptionally cool cats that I have chosen to adopt, their health care and nutrition were no less than anything I provide for my dogs.


Anonymous said...

When describing how awesome a cat may be people commonly do by mentioning how much it acts like a dog. "He is the most amazing cat, he acts just like a dog!"

I think that says it all.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a misconception about cats. Just because they can survive without people, hunt for themselves and feed themselves if necessary, and avoid danger due to their cautious nature, people think that they don't need regular vet care because they fend for themselves so well.

To a certain degree that is true, but however self sufficient they may be, they cannot protect themselves from serious infedctious disease, they can get parasites, so they do need regular uearly visit just like dogs, maybe moreso.

As far as cat les likely benefitting from owner approval to treat serious injury or disease, I agree with pw1974, that is appalling. Having a misconception about cats requiring less regular preventative care is one thing, but pain is pain, disease is disease, and life is life regardless of the species. It saddens me that this is the trendd that are truly observed.

For the record, my cats ARE my family, not just a part!