By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY
It had to happen.
The battle royal over which pet is best â€” dogs or cats â€” has moved from covert sniping to all-out, online war of words.
“Cats are so darn smart â€” and totally self-contained, self-sufficient and in control of their lives. They march to their own drummers, each is a unique individual and they are intuitive. â€¦ If people were more cat-like, we’d all do better â€¦ (we’d) do what pleases us instead of what pleases everybody else.” â€” Ann Strople, Atlanta.
“When’s the last time a cat dragged someone from a burning building or searched dangerous wreckage for survivors? â€¦ There is no more loyal and loving creature” than a dog. â€” Marilynn Miller, Dawsonville, Ga.
They’re passionate. Fervent, even.
This sharing online of heartfelt opinions about cats and dogs is being invited by â€” get this â€” the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
You can imagine the conversation between these two groups: We each know which is best, but let’s put this out there to the public and let folks duke it out.
It all started when the AKC had this kooky idea that as long as it was going to organize a huge October event called Meet the Breeds (160 dog breeds on scene that people can interact with) and rent a big building (The Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan), it might make sense to toss a bone to the cat people, who, of course, have their own breeds (41) to showcase.
Still, although the beautifully trained and socialized show creatures will no doubt co-exist peacefully under one roof for the Oct. 17-18 event, there’s no ignoring the fact that most pet lovers have a passionate bias for one species or the other. Thus, the online vote was born.
For a few days, the cat cuddlers leapt out in force and established an early lead. “Say it isn’t so!” AKC’s Daisy Okas wailed soon after an apparent kitty landslide began to form.
But then the canine contingent rose up and surged forward, taking and keeping (for now) the lead.
Some voters wax loving for paragraphs, some for just a line or two.
The cat people
“Cats are so much easier to live with â€” much less work. Don’t have to be walked, go outside and are quiet.” â€” Sheila Ullmann, San Ramon, Calif.
“Cats are best because you can get a dog to like you no matter what. Just offer a treat and they are yours. But cats are better judges of character. If they don’t like you, they don’t like you, no matter what you offer them.” â€” Barb Moore, Marietta, Ohio.
“Cats rarely pass gas, at least not in public.” â€” Sheryl Woods, Bloomingdale, Ill.
“Cats don’t have to be walked, and they don’t bark!” â€” Teresa Ford, Center Conway, N.H.
The dog people
“A dog wants to be near you â€” (they’re) better guards, scare off burglars, and they are especially loving. They usually don’t climb on the kitchen table or counter.” â€” Jeannine Pummill, Wilmington, Ohio
“Dogs â€¦ walk around with a smile â€¦ and are always there for us.” â€”Kelly Smith, Fayetteville, Ga.
“Cats have to have do-over lives because they didn’t figure out how to have fun the first time around. Dogs â€¦ are the ultimate team players â€¦ (and they) have bigger personalities.” â€” Marilyn Finley, Sparta, N.J.
As might be expected, there’s some behind-the-scenes drama while the online war is waged. AKC employee Andrea Lane, manager of public education, confessed recently she’d cast her ballot for â€¦cats. She was certain, she explained, that dogs would win, as they should, but she wanted to reduce the margin to something less humiliating for the cats. She still has her job with the AKC (which evidently appreciates the generosity of a dog lover willing to support the under-cat).
And CFA spokesman David White, who breeds hairless sphynx cats and wavy-haired Cornish rex, cast his ballot without reservation for cats. Understandable. Except that his eight kitties share their happy home with a dog. “I’m just not gonna tell the dog about that vote,” he says.
More than 6,300 people have cast votes; the AKC believes that by the time the final tally is announced Oct. 14, many thousands more will have stated their preference at http://www.AKC.org .