Via the Freakonomics blog, the New Scientist has examined the science behind the eternal question, dogs or cats?
Dogs can hunt, herd and guard. They can sniff out drugs and bombs and even whale faeces; they guide blind and deaf people, race for sport, pull sleds, find someone buried by an avalanche, help children learn and possibly even predict earthquakes. Cats are good if you have an infestation of rodents.
Perhaps that assessment is unfair, though. After all, we love our pets for other reasons. Cats are beautiful and soft, and stroking them has been shown to reduce stress. Then again, dogs are also good stress-busters: owning one can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What's more, Fido has other health benefits. Daily dog walks may be a chore, but they repay the effort, not just in terms of regular exercise, but also by providing immune-boosting opportunities for social contact with other dog walkers. That's why in a head-to-head contest of health benefits, it's dogs all the way
Having spent the last 9 days watching the two species interact, I have seen evidence of the magazine's conclusions. The cats Parker has suffered (and who have suffered him) haven't demonstrated stellar problem-solving skills, but they have learned that moving quickly across the living room causes lots of noise (the dog barks, the human corrects the dog), while slinking on their bellies slowly sometimes causes nothing more than a growl and a small correction. One of the cats (Nick, the orange pile of...cat pictured right) has the IQ of a philodendron, and still has not figured out that moving away from the dog cuts down on the noise. (Nick is just ornery, hissing at people even while getting brushed and purring. Yes, he hisses while purring. But that's a different post.)
Anyway, I vote for dogs. Cats are fine as accent pillows and occasionally if you have a granary you need protected from rodents. Dogs are actually happy to see you when you get home, even if you don't have any food in your hand.
Time to walk Parker.