Almost all my life, as far back as I can remember, I had dogs. As a kid I had two hounds that would hunt rabbits. As an adult I had German Shepherds. A shepherd makes a great companion for an outdoors man. Mine would ride in the truck with me, ride in the boat with me, accompany me camping and walking in the woods. Each, in their turn, was protective of home and family.
Living with dogs is like living with a very young child that adores you. Dogs, are like people; some are smarter than others. Shepherds are especially smart. They are easily taught to sit, to stay and they are naturally protective of the family. Shepherds make good police dogs, war dogs and cadaver dogs because of their wish to please their humans and they have basic intelligence. Dogs are trainable, but they don’t problem solve.
We adopted our first cat when I was fifty-three years old. It was a three-year-old Maine Coon Cat. We were in Alaska teaching school and had to move into an old one room log cabin that had been vacant for a couple of decades. The cabin was full of vermin, so on our next trip into Fairbanks we decided to get a cat. Being a dog person, the cat had to train me.
Cats don’t love you like a dog. Cats will live with you and they will tolerate you, and if you are good to them they may even like being with you - when they feel like it. My first cat, Hobby, loved being with me, but on his terms. There was a constant interaction as to who was alpha. You don’t tell a can NO; because he will find that a challenge. If you try to correct a cat, he will turn his butt to you as if to say, ‘Fuck you. Now go fill my food bowl and empty my potty.’ If you are a controlling person, you shouldn’t have a cat – the cat will be miserable and you won’t like the cat - get a dog.
Dogs are trainable; but cats are their own people. Cats can problem solve. When we moved into our new house last year, we got new food bowls and water bowls for each of our cats. We kept finding food nuggets floating in the younger, five-year-old, cat’s water bowl. After watching her for a while I realized, that because of the color of the bowl, she couldn’t see the surface of the water when she wanted to drink, so she would push her food bowl over by her water bowl, pick up a piece or two of food with her paw, drop it in the water where it would float, and then she would drink. This is problem solving. Something dogs can’t do. If you watch a cat that has its own autonomy, they constantly problem solve.
If you are willing to live with a cat and not try to control the cat, they will make a good companion. But if you are not willing to respect a cat – you should get a dog.