I’m not saying that dogs are better than cats. It depends on the person and their circumstances but here are seven reasons why they are. I like cats and dogs. I have recalled these reasons spantaneously as they are fairly obvious. If you can add or subtract reasons please do so in a comment.
All dogs bark, or from my perspective they do. And it is often loud. I guess some dog breeds bark less than others e.g. Newfoundland, but in general dogs make more noise than cats. Of course, cats make noises as well but by-and-large they are relatively quiet. This is particularly useful in an apartment where neighbours are living close together. Dog barking can be a problem in semi-detached or terraced (town) houses where the buildings share a common, party wall. The sound is transmitted through the walls and it can irritate a neighbour. You don’t want to irritate your neighbour because you want to get on with them. If you are in a dispute with your neighbour it can have a seriously detrimental impact upon your lifestyle.
In the UK (I don’t know what the rules are in the USA or other countries) when you take your dog for a walk you have to pick up your dog’s poop in public places, in a small plastic bag and deposit it in a special public waste bin. This is an unpleasant but necessary task. Many domestic cats live inside and use a litter and therefore there is no public health hazard in the same way as dogs pooping outside. Those cats who are allowed outside do sometimes poop in public places but you never see it and a lot of the time it is buried and therefore it biodegrades into the earth and there’s no problem. Cat detractors would say that cat poop contains toxoplasmosis and therefore they are contributing to a public health hazard. But I’m comparing dogs with cats from the perspective of ownership and picking up dog poop on a regular basis is unpleasant.
Domestic cats are fastidiously clean. We all know that. They groom themselves regularly and for long periods of time. They do so in a certain pattern or regime and they do it reliably and consistently. This means that they smell lovely and provided they are well looked after and fed well they feel nice to the touch as well. Dogs on the other hand are often covered in mud after they have gone for a walk in winter and no doubt their owner has to spend some time bathing them. More work. More mess. What about the car when they jump in the back? That said, I have to admit that cats, if they are indoor/outdoor cats, walk into the home through the cat flap quite a bit of mess which is why Sarah Hartwell called her website messybeast.com.
Domestic cats are not independent in the sense that a lot of people think they are. They need their human companion around and become lonely when they are not. However, they are arguably better equipped to deal with being alone for a while particularly if they can go outside. They are more independent because they are essentially solitary, if you trace their character to their wild cat ancestor. However, cats are becoming more like dogs as they become more sociable living in the human world. Dogs are arguably attention seekers as they are pack animals. Some cats can be attention seekers too. Independence is not necessarily a good trait but in a modern world where cat and dog owner are often stretched for time, independence can be beneficial.
This is a slightly dubious benefit to cat owners but it is probably true. Dogs need to be trained whereas cats don’t and people very rarely do it. There’s more work for the dog owner. But it is nice work.
Dogs are nearly always bigger and more powerful than domestic cats and they bite and can be aggressive to strangers in the street. Dogs bite around 4.7 million people every year in the USA. They can cause harm to strangers and I for one have been bitten by a dog in the street without provoking the animal. I love dogs but I don’t like it when they bark and are aggressive towards me and when it appears that they are going to bite me. I have no idea why the dog that bit me wanted to do it. I blamed the person in charge at the time who did not have sufficient control of her three dogs. I asked for £50 compensation and got it there and then but I could have asked for a lot more because my trousers were ruined and I had a bloody wound which could have developed into something quite nasty. Cats can bite and scratch but cats in the street will often avoid people. If cats do bite it’ll be in defence.
Across the world 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans are from dogs. That’s an important negative. But cats spread toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is often asymptomatic whereas rabies is 100% deadly.
P.S. From an evolutionary standpoint cats have been more successful than dogs (Dr Daniele Silvestro, of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland).