This CNN article on cat ladies provided some entertaining reading this morning. I've lived with cats in the house most of my life. My mother loved having kittens around so she never bothered having any of the family cats spayed/neutered. The amazing thing was that she was always able to place them in homes that didn't involve medical experiments at the local research university. Since they were all indoor/outdoor cats, their mean lifespan was often depressingly short. I can still remember waking up for my 8th birthday to find my cat dead on the kitchen floor. Run over, poisoned, who knows? But the point is that I got to experience a LOT of different cats.
Right now we have three female indoor cats in a remarkably stable relationship triangle. All three are rescue animals. One we adopted as an adult, the other two can to us as kittens. The adult adoptee is a snow white Turkish Angora that is quite possibly the smartest cat I have ever met. She reasons things out and is adept at manipulating everyone around her. The other two are dumb as a box of rocks but they are loyal and friendly. The youngest has an automatic purr for anyone who picks her up and I can forgive a lot in an animal like that.
The middle cat is a basket case. I have never before met a cat as neurotic as this one. "Scaredy cat" didn't even begin to describe her behavior. My father-in-law called her "Duck" because she would flinch and run if anyone but my wife or daughter even made eye contact with her. Last year we had to put her on anti-anxiety medication after I tried to toilet train them. The drugs worked well when administered but putting an already nervous cat in a headlock to squirt a couple cc's of refrigerated medication down her choking, squalling throat struck me as being counter-productive. So we got her a kitten friend. The new kitten came with a complimentary ringworm infection, which necessitated all three cats getting weekly fungicidal baths and we were off again! Things have since settled down and everybody is happy.
We have had dogs in the past but I just can't warm up to them like I can a cat. Housebreaking a cat is usually as easy as dropping it in a litter box. Instinct takes over from there. Dogs are much more frustrating. We had a dog that I would take for nice long walks twice a day. She'd mark territory and pee, but she waited until we were back in the apartment to take a crap. She was sweet but very stupid.
Dogs are needy. They follow me with their eyes everywhere I go. It's live living with Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Genie". The cats only perk up if I'm in the kitchen. That's not to say that our cats are the aloof mooches so often portrayed by stereotype. The bilateral relationship described in the article fits our cats perfectly. Middle cat tries to herd everybody into bed at 9pm so she can settle down by my wife's feet. It's a relationship of peers, not a creepy master/servant thing. I agree with the article's premise that it is possible to have a solid relationship with a cat beyond that of "cat and staff".