Dog ownership still outnumbers cat ownership in the US. Who knows why this is? There could be many reasons. Some people feel that part of growing up and becoming independent includes having a dog, and recent studies have even shown that some are substituting dogs for companionship. On the other hand, careers are a huge priority for many individuals and couples, making cats an excellent pet option due to their independence. As veterinarians, we adore all the fur friends that come to see us but, in honor of National Cat Lover’s Month, we decided to share the many reasons cats make great pets in the blog post below. If you’re on the fence about felines, this could be the purrrrrfect article for you.
Why do cats make great pets?
1.) Cats are easy!
Just ask anyone who grew up on a farm! You don’t need to train them or let them out to go to the bathroom. Litter box training is relatively easy. They groom themselves. If you have an outdoor cat, they are even resourceful with finding their own food and will often bring you a “gift” to share. Okay, so that last part isn’t always a huge benefit, but they mean well with their offerings!
2.) Cats are smart.
Don’t underestimate your cat, as they are intelligent animals and they can be trained. Most cats are litter box trained before they are weaned from their mom. They will often watch other cats use the litter box or instinctively know to go in a location that requires minimal direction. Cats can be trained to sit, lie down, come when called, and are natural obstacle course experts! They can also remember what they have learned for more extended periods, unlike dogs that need refresher courses. Make no mistake, though—if cats don’t want to do something, it isn’t that they forgot. They may simply not see the benefit in doing what you want them to do right now. Cats are stubborn creatures, and you have to respect that! However, as the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) notes, continuing to work with them on these tricks can help to build their bond with you.
3.) Cats are affectionate.
We all know that cats have a reputation for being aloof, but there are plenty of cats who enjoy their “scritches” and affection sessions. They do enjoy being pet and finding a nice warm place to lay down. This doesn’t equal affection, per se, but it’s often about their comfort. Cats don’t show affection the same way that dogs do, as they are more subtle. Don’t blink, or you may miss it! If your cat is looking at you with slightly closed eyes, they aren’t glaring at you—they are showing you love! When your cat rubs their face on you, they are telling everyone that you are theirs. You may also end up as the object of their kneading; you may be sitting there, and your cat will start to claw on you, which is called kneading or making biscuits. Kittens do this when they are nursing, so when they become mature, they will sometimes continue it as a way to show affection and also because it is relaxing for them.
When cats are in play mode, they will lightly bite at your sock or hand. They are not trying to hurt you but let you know they respect you. Cats will also bite if they want you to know that they have had enough of something you are doing, but this will only typically happen after they have given you the warning of a growl or hiss.
Returning their affection by petting a cat has been known to lower blood pressure, alleviate stress, and decrease depression. Talk about a win/win scenario!
4.) Cats are curious.
Their curiosity makes for a lot of entertainment. Watching a cat explore a new toy or watching them bat something off the counter can provide hours of entertainment. Do they do that to see the effect, or just because they want more room? You’ll never know! They enjoy exploring, and when you provide this activity, it can be fun for both of you. Don’t forget to share the love by posting your cat-ivities on social media!
5.) Cats won’t make you feel guilty.
A dog is a bit more dramatic in that they will act like you have been gone forever when you just went to the curb to take out the trash. Cats don't mind the alone time and enjoy sleeping the day away until you get home to feed them and give them a lap to lay on. Although we want to humanize our pets, cats don’t feel guilt, so they cannot intentionally make us feel guilty. You could mistake your cat pulling away after they take a nibble or scratch, but it isn’t them feeling bad that they did that—they are waiting to see if you will react to it in case they need to flee.
6.) Cats have long lives.
Cats outlive dogs by quite a few years. Their average life span is 13-20 years. How old was the oldest cat? The oldest cat in the US, Cream Puff, was 38 years old! Of course, to keep your cat healthy and to live a long life requires regular checkups with their veterinarian. Cats are good at hiding when they aren’t feeling well, so taking them in once a year minimum when they are an adult and twice a year as they mature will keep them with you for a long time. Your veterinarian will help guide you on what other preventive care they will require based on their lifestyle and where you live.
7.) Cats enjoy the little things.
Whether it’s a piece of string hanging from a fraying blanket, the ring from a milk jug, or a pile of clothes on the floor, cats don’t need anything fancy—just don’t tell the cat toy manufacturers and retailers we said this! Cats are creative and resourceful and will make do with what is around them. More than likely, if your hair tie is missing, look under the couch or refrigerator because your cat has likely hidden it under there. Have a delivery box that is sitting on the floor? Eventually, your cat will find their way inside to take a nap, even though the $40 cat bed is sitting in their favorite spot. The way cats approach life is a good reminder that we all need to think like a cat and enjoy the little things. We need to take a moment out of our busy lives and appreciate that we have a cat in our homes and our hearts.
Are you thinking of partaking in National Cat Lover’s Month but still wondering if a feline is a good fit for you? Feel free to give us a call!