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Cats Get No Respect


Cats are America’s most popular companion, yet they get no respect.

Or at least not as much respect as dogs. According to a new poll, 74 percent of those questioned said they like dogs a lot, but just under half feel the same way about cats. Also, only four percent say they dislike dogs, while about a quarter of those questioned say they dislike cats. Lots of people just don’t like cats.

It should be pointed out that those polled for this survey don’t have pets. I don’t know about the other perimeters of this study, but the results are similar to what other little data there is about how we feel about dogs vs. cats.   

There are 81 million pet cats, and 72 million dogs, according to the AVMA.  Yet, the average cat visits the veterinarian less than half as often as the average dog. Owners don’t seem as willing for pay as much for their cats’ health care. More cats (than dogs) are relinquished to shelters. And certainly, when some owners get tired of their feline friends, they’re more likely to just dump them on the street, apparently figuring they’ll fend for themselves, or believing they are easily replaceable, meaning cats are disposable. Perhaps, also the reason why so few cats (compared to dogs) have a microchip. Fewer cats than dogs have pet insurance. No where near the same dollars are raised for cat health research as compared to the dollars available to study canine illness.

While certainly, many people with cats – ADORE their cats…Clearly, that’s not always the case. In an effort to elevate the status of cats, several of us began the CATalyst Council. This is a coalition of leaders in veterinary medicine, animal welfare, academia and non-profit – our goal is to encourage more cats being adopted, educate owners so fewer are given up and also insure proper veterinary care. I just began a column in Cat Fancy, called the CATalyst. More to come on that soon.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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