I have a confession to make: I like cats!
It hasn’t always been that way. I’m allergic to cats, and I love dogs. My family has two very cuddly, incredibly sweet (hypoallergenic) Bichon Frisées who enhance life for everyone around them (except for the two people that Lola bit, earning her time in the puppy penitentiary).
That isn’t to say kittens aren’t cute. They are definitely cute. But me, wheezing and sniffling? Not cute. So I stayed away and when I did encounter friends’ felines and their unpredictable talons my pro-dog bias went largely unchallenged.
That all changed recently when I moved in with my best friend, her brother, and their two portly tuxedo cats. These are not conventionally cute kitties. Tiny is 16 pounds — small relative only to Steven, who weighs 24. They have dandruff. Their fur is all over my clothes. They make it plain that their love is proportional to their hunger. There is kitty litter on the floor all day, every day.
But here I am, falling for these fatties. And a recent study by the ASPCA about why we choose to adopt a particular pet suggests that supposedly true-blue dog people may be a bit shallower than feline fans.
From January through May 2011, the ASPCA asked 1,500 adopters to explain how they chose their new friend. Though both the cat and dog camps ranked “behavior with people” as the top criteria, nearly 10% more adult dog adopters ranked physical appearance as a reason for choosing a pet. For the lucky folks adopting a puppy, physical appearance was the number one factor in their choice (for kitten adopters, it was age).
The ASPCA did this research to improve their ability to match pets and people, but the results suggest a larger problem with the way we choose our animal companions. Puppies grow up. Husky puppies are cute, but they get big. They need exercise. And sadly, they are all-to-frequently given up by owners who can’t handle the responsibility of a tiny puppy that becomes a big, athletic, or aggressive adolescent.
While the ASPCA can definitely use this info to make better matches, this research also highlights the importance of educating prospective owners about the demands of a dog. That way, less formerly cute puppies will make their way to shelters as big dogs. And perhaps they can convince some apartment-dwelling dog lovers to take a chance and consider a cat.
Posted by Susannah
Image source Fairview Veterinary Hospital