Cat versus dog: What’s the best pet for writers?

CatDog: Best of both worlds.

I’ve noticed a lot of writers have pets. This makes sense since writing is a solitary activity, usually engaged in by reclusive, homebound individuals. Were it not for the companionship of their animal friends, surely many a writer would go absolutely fucking insane for lack of any social contact whatsoever.

But, what animal is the best animal for a writer? Flannery O’Connor had her peacocks. Mary Shelley had her boa constrictor. Charles Dickens is rumored to have kept a pet raven, which he then taxidermied after it died so it could still sit on its perch and keep him company while he wrote. But these animals all sound strange, and un-cuddly. For most writers, the choice is between the more traditional house pet rivals: dog or cat.

Below, I’ve compiled a brief pro & con list for both animals. Feel free to add in your own feels on this no doubt heated debate in comments.

Dog

Pros:

-Will nap at your feet while you type; this is very cute.

-Will alert you when the mailman arrives. Checking the mail is a great excuse to stop writing.

-“I need to take the dog for a walk” is a great excuse to stop writing.

-If you read aloud what you’ve just written in a high pitched, excited voice, he will wag his tail. This makes him seem very supportive of your work.

-Frequent licking of his own genitals can also be construed as enthusiasm for your work.

-“I’ll bet the dog wants to play fetch” is a great excuse to stop writing.

Cons:

-Will try to chew on your feet while you type; this is not so cute.

-Barking is distracting.

-Tail chasing may seem reflective of your own futile efforts; damn dog and his constant mockery.

-May try to eat your books, pens, journals, only copy of handwritten manuscript, etc.

Cat

Pros

-Will nap on your lap while you type; this is both cute & will help keep you warm during winter months.

-Doesn’t take up much space; perfect for apartments or studios.

-Purring can be construed as enthusiasm for your work.

Cons

-Will walk all over the keyboard while you type; this is not so cute.

-Judgmental facial expressions

-Seeing your cat taking a nap will remind you how much you also would like to take a nap. Cats nap all the damn time. Very little writing will actually get done. Only napping.

-Many of your friends will be allergic to him.

-Cats poop in a box. If you keep a cat in your house, you must therefore also keep a box of cat poop in your house. Your house, as a result, will always smell like cat poop. This is not the most pleasant olfactory arrangement for writing.

-Hairballs. Gross.

15 Comments

  • Rosie says:

    My expertise is cats, so…

    PROS:
    – Cats do not need to be taken outside to poop/be walked. Your house may smell like crap, but that means that you have a great excuse for keeping people out of there and remaining helpfully isolated.

    – When your cat leaps onto the desk and lays on your arm, this gives you a moment to pet the purring beast and reflect upon what’s important in life. (Also, you can still type with one hand.)

    – When you wander out into public covered in cat fur, it is very good for your Crazed Writer image.

    CONS:
    – When you print stuff out, your cat may attack the printer. (My printer is broken in places because of various Cat Attacks.)

    – Some cats will sense that you have transitioned into Focused Writer Mode and will then begin meowing, loudly, wailing for you to stop.

    • Leyna Krow says:

      Bwahaha! I hadn’t even considered the possible benefit of cat poop smell/cat hair on clothes. Brilliant.

    • Kmac says:

      Rosie I agree with all of these things and I too have a half-functioning printer due to cat attacks. But also my cat is in my lap right now and I’m typing with one hand.

  • Melissa says:

    Both the cat and the dog have learned to dislike my laptop as an evil device that I pay attention to more than them. As such, they’ve developed various methods to compete for my attention. The dog will wedge her nose under my elbow and flick it up, forcing me to notice her, or if I’m sitting on the couch, she’ll lay her whole head across the keyboard. The cat either walks across the keyboard or plops down on top of it.

    However, walking the dog= good thinking-about-writing time. Especially in the morning. I thought a lot about my thesis, as I was working on it, while walking my dog.

  • Cathie Smathie says:

    I can’t help but notice, oh-allergic-one, your cons list for cats is longer than for dogs (*cough*congestionbias*cough*)

    And I think they both are perfect for writers. When I get my dog I’ll send you photos of all 3 of us cuddling/writing and I’ll make sure the caption says “told ya so!”

  • Jonathan Frey Jonathan Frey says:

    Since we’re on the subject of poop, you somehow forgot to mention that, although dogs poop outside, part of the social contract surrounding dog poop involves you following your dog around, picking up its poop with a little plastic bag, and carrying said bag of shit to the nearest appropriate place to deposit it. This is a con.

    • Melissa says:

      Says the person who has spent a significant amount of the last 18 months cleaning up poop that’s way messier to deal with than the occasional poop in the park. ;) Advantage with dogs is that you don’t have to deal with all of their messes- some of them are currently fertilizing my back yard and I’m totally okay with that. I’d rather use a shovel to scoop the backyard occasionally than deal with the cat box each day. Cat boxes are disgusting. No matter what. Even with expensive litter, they smell bad, there’s always litter tracked everywhere, and with cats you have to clean up after number 1 and number 2. Number 1 is a seriously annoying issue that dogs take care of themselves.

  • John Sousa says:

    Dogs are needy and expensive, and instead of pooping and/or pissing in a box, they will piss and/or poop on your rug, your couch, your bed, etc. Emptying a cat box (good excuse to stop writing) removes the smell, whereas dog pee needs to be treated with special dog-pee-enzyme-removing spray.

  • Leyna Krow says:

    Uh oh, looks like I’ve agitated the cat loyalists…

  • Dori says:

    As a cat loyalist, I must urge my brethren to remember the narrow thesis of this article, which is whether a cat or dog is better for a writer, presumably in the act of writing. All the copious (and dog-surpassing) benefits of cats aside, they really are little bastards when a person is trying to do work. They will relentlessly sit on lap/keyboard/hands/paper (should you still use paper and pen), etc. and when you toss them off, they either try again or give the most pathetic face that would elicit sympathy from even the most hardened feliphobe. This type of manipulation is clearly anathema to productiv aasseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    (d’awww)

  • Kyle says:

    Cats rule, dogs drool.

  • Kmac says:

    In terms of Cat V. Dog, I want to add in defense of the cat that you can disappear for long periods of time on possible writing and/or drinking binges and not have to worry about coming home to poop on your pillow.

    Also, I totally read to my cat and he obligingly wags his tail, so that’s not exclusive to dogs. (Although my cat does think he’s a dog.)

    • Melissa says:

      While it is true that you can leave your cat to it’s own devices for more time than you can a dog, it’s the cats who will absolutely poop on your bed, and they’ll do it out of revenge. I’ve known two cats who would revenge-pee and revenge-poop on their owner’s bed, both while they were gone and after they returned, just to show how pissed they were at being left alone. Dogs are just happy you’re home.

      • Kmac says:

        I might be giggling in my apartment because I think “Revenge-pee” would make an excellent title story. Please write that for me.

        And yes, I suppose that’s true, although I used to dog sit for a revenge-pooer. And luckily for me, Nico is well-behaved and only ever revenge-hides-my-pens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *