At the risk of being dog-tagged for life as a mutt-hater, I’m sticking to my view that cats make better pets than their canine cousins. With one exception.
Dogs keep you fitter - and the bigger the better. In fact, if you can afford to buy and feed a Pyrenean mountain dog, he’ll be happy to drag you on a double marathon ‘walkies’ over the nearest 10,000-foot peak.
Before I came to Spain, my house in Manchester was at one time like a Home for Lost Pussies. So many waifs and strays came and went that I swear our friendly little dog Carrie thought she was a moggy herself.
She was certainly pretty adept at squeezing herself through the cat-flap as a quick means of exit, even if the poor mongrel never quite mastered the art of getting back in unassisted.
Because so much commitment is involved, I’ve not owned a dog since Carrie died aged 15 of a heart condition. However, my love affair with cats purrs along today at my villa near Guardamar, where I feed five ‘regular’ visitors. Two of them regard my lap as home. The others come for food, hang around for perhaps an hour, and then disappear into the night or day as the case may be.
The sad thing about our community of just 41 villas is that only mine has a regular feline presence. This means that when I go away – like my current visit to see my family in the UK – I face a ‘Cat 22’ situation. Do I ask neighbours to feed them and hope the moggies don’t miss me too much? Or do I send them to a cattery when the freedom of the campo is the only life they have ever known?
There was, of course, the option of taking them to England with me. But apart from the expense and inconvenience, not to mention the turmoil for the cats, all of them have a major communication problem. They can only miaow and purr in Spanish.
Last time I left a willing neighbour to feed them in my absence, the then community president and committee sanctioned a ridiculous resolution ordering residents NOT to feed animals outdoors.
|Cat on the mat: My moggy Molly no habla ingles|
My neighbour, unwilling to go against community rules, promptly stopped feeding the moggies, and by the time I returned, at least one had had enough of waiting for the grub that didn’t arrive. I never saw her again.
The reality is that where there are cats, there are unlikely to be rats. In fact, any roaming rodent that wanders into the vicinity of Tiddles’ mouth is likely to become rat-atouille in an instant.
In my last article on dogs and cats, I gave readers chapter and verse on doggy poo and the filthy creatures who deposit and leave it as the staple diet for the soles of our shoes.
I just wish someone would invent incontinence pants for out-of-control growlers (that’s roughly 93 per cent of all dogs, by my reckoning) and with it redefine the expression ‘’doggy-bag’’.
I must emphasise here that a ‘’catty bag’’ is not the feline equivalent of a doggy bag, but a label one might put on a spiteful female of the human variety. I’m told that efforts were once made to breed a cross between a cat and a dog known as a ‘’catty bitch’’ but the animal was so venomous that scientists abandoned the project.
More seriously, cats are considerably less trouble than dogs. To start with, they never need a bath (just try giving them one and you may well get your head ripped off). They spend half their lives washing their body, legs and tail with their own saliva – and the other half trying to paw it all onto the top of their head – the one place their tongue can’t reach.
While Tiddles always washes herself, all Fido much prefers to wash YOUR face, hands, feet with a giant moist tongue that is as soft as a cat’s is rough.
Keeping Fido himself clean is a major operation. The best bet is probably to plonk him in the bath under a warm shower, though that is a bit of a gamble in itself. He’ll either love it or make a dash for safety, leaving the entire house three inches deep in water on his romp to the open front door – and then to the nearest garden wall for a mega-sniff of his pals’ doggy wee.
Unlike Fido and his mates, cats will also control their motions almost indefinitely. If there is ANY way Tiddles can avoid messing in the house, she will. I had one amazing female cat that, having sussed out the sewage system and knowing she’d fall off the seat if she tried to use the loo, always urinated in the bath. And right over the plughole, too.
That’s what I call a well-drained pet (God, the puns get even worse!)
Every moggy will head instinctively for the great outdoors when nature calls. Tiddles’ biggest failure here is that she tends not to look while she is burying her poo. She prefers to whirl round and round kicking soil, gravel and defecation into the air.
The end product is often a mound of soil topped by a modicum of No.2 – perfect for Fido to stick his nose in next time he comes back from soiling the neighbourhood streets.
Yet overall, and despite my own bias, it seems that animal lovers in general prefer dogs – but only just. A survey of 3,000 people in the UK found that 31% cent of households owned dogs and 26% cats.
All I can say is that if people are happy combining walkies with cleaning up their dogs’ runnies, that is their business. Personally, I’d rather settle down with my cats and watch our favourite film.
It’s called the Mog-nificent Seven.