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When it comes to pets, dogs are tops

Poll: Folks have strong feelings one way or another about cats

Norfolk terrier Eleanor plays with her new kitty friend, Lil’ Joey, at the Pet Set doggie day care in Long Beach, Calif. A poll of 1,967 adults showed that 74 percent liked dogs a lot, while 41 percent liked cats a lot.  (File Associated Press)
Norfolk terrier Eleanor plays with her new kitty friend, Lil’ Joey, at the Pet Set doggie day care in Long Beach, Calif. A poll of 1,967 adults showed that 74 percent liked dogs a lot, while 41 percent liked cats a lot. (File Associated Press)
Sue Manning Associated Press

Cats. Dogs. Those can be fighting words in some circles.

Cats are “nasty, stinking creatures,” says Mark David of Warrensburg, Mo.

And dogs? They’re noisy, disruptive and “lick you and themselves,” counters Sanford Reikes of Louisville, Ky.

Clearly, there are dog people and there are cat people. But it’s not much of a contest: 74 percent of people like dogs a lot, and only 41 percent like cats a lot, according to a new Associated Press-Petside.com poll.

Cats win the dislike vote handily: Fifteen percent of the adults questioned said they disliked cats a lot, while the number who said they disliked dogs a lot was just 2 percent.

Joseph Moreus, 61, of Westminster, Calif., understands why dogs come out on top.

“They have more personality. They are loyal,” he said.

“Cats are all about cats but dogs are interested in pleasing their owners. Cats don’t care if they please you or not.”

And cats can be destructive, said Joy Rasch, 70, of Kennewick, who gets mad at the neighborhood cats who kill robins, quail and squirrels in her back yard.

Male cats will spray their territory or get in the woodpile at 3 a.m. and “screech like bad brakes on a car,” she added.

Of course, cat lovers, if smaller in numbers, are equal in passion.

“Cats are 1,000 times smarter than dogs,” said Bonnie Hanson, 77, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

She and her late husband had a black Siamese cat, Kitty, that she said “always wanted to comfort people, anybody who was ill or unhappy.”

“My husband would have chest pains and wouldn’t tell me. But Kitty would come and look at me and I’d know.

“We called him our psychic Siamese,” Hanson said, adding: “Every cat I ever had was a help and a comfort.”

About 59 percent of American households own pets, according to the poll. About 74 percent of pet owners polled said they had dogs, and 47 percent said they had cats.

Those most likely to dislike cats were blacks, Hispanics and married men. Men were a bit more likely than women to say they disliked cats.

Dog people are more adamant about their preference than cat people, the poll found. Of those who owned only a dog, 34 percent said they disliked cats; of those who owned only a cat, only 5 percent disliked dogs.

The picture isn’t completely black-and-white: Sixty percent of all adults said they liked both dogs and cats.

Cats are independent so they give you a little more freedom but dogs are better companions, said Janet Hardy, 69, of Abingdon, Md., who grew up with both.

David Kyser, 73, has also had both – and can tick off their relative merits.

“Cats take care of themselves. They are very clean,” said Kyser, of Austin, Texas. “Dogs are not so clean and they need some activity.

“They are good if you have a house full of children. Cats just kind of sit around being cats.”

And some people, of course, don’t want either species for a friend.

“I have a fear of dogs and I don’t like cats,” said Willie Thigpen, 60, of Greenwood, S.C.

He and his wife raised three children, but they never had a pet.

“And now I don’t want to take care of nothing except me,” he said.

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