More than 164 million pets reside in our nation's homes. That translates to more than 60 percent of households with at least one pet. And some of us (arf, meow, bark, purr) have multiple pets. But here's the question: Are you Team Dog...or Team Cat? We've done some research into the distinctions between dog lovers and cat aficionados, and it's purr-fectly charming (even for those who think we're barking up the wrong tree).
We always appreciate it when journalists reveal their biases up front. So allow us to introduce the pets doing their part to hinder (er, we mean help) us to write this article: Miss Queen Bee Kitty, age four, a tuxedo cat with a ping pong ball obsession, and Louis B. James (LBJ), age seven weeks, a black kitten who voluntarily takes nightly showers and occasionally drops his toy mouse into the bathtub to liven up the occasion.
Sense of humor: Cat people tend to be more sarcastic and witty, while dog people prefer warmer, kinder humor. Indicative of that are the difference in book titles, such as "How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You" (click for details) and "I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats" versus "Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs" and "Love That Dog."
Choice of toys: Cat toys typically require the owner to do all the work, running around waving toys with names like Cat Dancer Cat Charmer and Go Go Cat Cat Catcher Teaser Wand. We feel that the extra effort is worth it because when a cat responds, we know we've earned that attention and love. Dog toys have cutesy names like Cozie Marvin the Moose and are seized with instant joy. Dog people say that they appreciate the fact that dogs are happy for any attention and instantly responsive to their presence.
Choice of beds: Dogs have soft little beds made especially for them, with names like Cozy Pet Bed Mocha Beige. Dog people say that this is because dogs deserve their own mini beds. As for cats? After an unofficial survey, I have found no cat owner whose cat actually sleeps in a cat bed. Cats sleep where they choose, in places ranging from the softest place on the couch to the "roof" of the cat crate (LBJ Kitten) to the pillow (Miss Queen Bee Kitty). As for the idea that cats deserve their own beds? Most cats will inform you that the ideal bed is a human size, preferably occupied by a human willing to be kneaded at odd hours.
Final thoughts: Whether you're a dog person or a cat person, you share something very special: Appreciation for the unconditional love we receive from our pets. Miss Kitty purrs happily, looking lovingly at us even on those days when we're bleary-eyed and suffer from a bad case of bedhead. Monsieur Puppy bounces up and down joyfully, tail wagging with excitement when you re-appear after a 10-minute trip to the post office. And even on the darkest days, there's something about the cheerful warmth of our pets that can make us smile.
What do you think? Post your comments below. And check out the slideshow by talented photographer Julie Mei Smith.