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Top Pet: Cats or Dogs?

Top Pet: Cats or Dogs?The family flick "Cats and Dogs" grabbed the top spot at box offices around the country this weekend, begging the question: which is the better pet?

No. Grafton, Mass. [07.09.01] Americans poured into movie theatres around the country this weekend to watch a pack of animated cats and dogs battle for the honor of humans' favorite pet, making the Warner Brothers film "Cats and Dogs" the top-rated movie in America. While the on-screen battle was pure fiction, the debate over dogs versus cats wasn't far from the minds of many viewers as they left the theatres.

So which pet reigns supreme? The Kansas City Star asked Tufts veterinarian Nick Dodman for the answer.

Statistically, cats have the edge over their canine counterparts. According to the Star, 73 million Americans own cats, while 68 million are dog owners.

But Dodman, an internationally renowned expert on pet behavior, says dogs may have more wide-spread appeal.

"[Dogs cover] a whole spectrum of people," Dodman said in The Kansas City Star's article. "With cats, it's not quite the same story."

According to the Tufts veterinarian, dog owners range from young children to newly married couples to seniors and empty-nesters.

But cat owners, said Dodman, tend to fit a more "stereotypical profile."

"[Dodman] said that when he travels and gives lectures on cats, the audience is almost 80 percent female," reported the newspaper. Regularly in their 40s and 50s, Dodman says cat owners are usually characterized as "having this absolutely passionate, profound, super-intense relationship with their cat."

When it comes to responsibilities, Dodman gives dogs the advantage.

While dogs have been employed to do everything from hunting to guarding to leading the blind, Dodman says cats haven't developed a similar reputation.

"There aren't many service cats," Dodman said. "Cats don't flush out game for you. You can't dance with your cat, they're too short. There's not much you can do with a cat except look at it."

Dodman is quick to point out, however, that cats are playing an increasingly important role in therapy.

A professed cat owner himself, Dodman told The Kansas City Star that pet owners on either side have pretty strong opinions on the subject.

"Every bone in my body tells me that people who own dogs are different from people who own cats," he said.

Perhaps it's best to let the animals battle it out for themselves on the big screen.

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