Dogs: Selfless; Cats: Selfish

The Corner on National Review Online

Hood opines: “Dogs may be friendlier, but cats have been more useful.” Uh huh, Mr. Hood. And pray tell Mr. Hood: Who, exactly, would you prefer to have in your foxhole? The noble hound or the mercenary-yet-languid cat? Do you sleep better (no doubt having nodded-off reading Jack London’s exciting tales of man and cat alone in the wilderness) knowing your cat has watchful eyes on the neighborhood or because your vigilant canine is on the job? How many blind people do you see walking the streets with their seeing-eye cats? Does your heart palpitate when you see drug-sniffing cats at the airport? For surely, your sobriety is in doubt for you to say such things.

Dogs have been allies in war for thousands of years.

While not quite a myth, it is something of an exaggeration that cats are extremely competent or useful ratters. Once sated on the flesh of vermin, the typical cat takes little to no interest in dispatching any more rodents, preferring instead to spend the remainder of the day digesting in the warm sun. Dogs, meanwhile, are some of the greatest ratters in the world. The terrier in particular can mount enormous numbers of kills, all to please his master, not his belly.

An example close to home: my father-in-law once bought a supposedly champion cat to get rid of mice in his supermarket. Very soon, the cat had chosen to empty the seafood case instead. This was around the same time my in-law’s family dog, Snowball, physically prevented my father-in-law from pulling the Lincoln town car out of the garage for fear the car might hit one of the kids playing in the driveway. Snowball put his body between the car and the girl and stood his ground saying to the metallic beast: Ye shall not pass. The lesson was lost on no one.

Dogs: better protectors, loyal, and not in for themselves. Cats: users and selfish. I know which I trust more and want in my house.

UPDATE: A reader responded to Jonah with this table:

  Pros Cons
250 lb Dog protection affection and companionship lots of clean-up
250 lb Cat None Better known as a cougar or mountain lion; a dangerous predator that will kill you …after tearing your face off