The position of the domestic cat in a modern city is a highly irregular one. A cat is the only petted creature which endures city conditions without human aid. Complete domestication, entire dependence on man, a definite status before the law, and reasonable protection from ill usage all began with the horse. Then they extended to the dog. Today, these rules also include the cat.
The fact that the cat should “arrive” so much later than the dog is probably due largely to its own peculiarities. A cat is a very different creature from the dog. The cat is more able, less slavish, more resourceful, far braver, and with no more nerves than its counterpart the dog. The dog has only streets and open courts for refuge. The city cat ranges over the city roofs, in and out of cellars, lofts, and every open space. The ability to climb alone multiplies its available habitats by at least ten. In various ways the city cat is so peculiarly adapted to homeless city life that it alone, of all petted creatures, can be dropped anywhere in a hostile world and land on its feet. Proverbially among the toughest of all living things, it is the best fighter of its weight in the whole animal kingdom.
Where a dog depends on smell and gets its food by day, the cat, with a sense of smell hardly better than a human being, depends on its eyes. Its highly dilatable pupils enable it to go about freely at night, while its worst enemies are tucked away in bed. In addition, its astonishing sense of direction makes it one of the cleverest of all beasts in finding its way home. Whatever may be true of the open country, eyes and “direction sense” of a city cat is better equipment than any nose for dealing with a city maze.
In addition, the cat has the advantage of a pretty skilful and predatory pair of hands, whereas the dog has only jaws. The cat’s primitive hunting instincts, sharper than the dog’s because of its shorter domestication, lead the city cat to catch for food the various small creatures which the dog will not touch. Humanity has been slow to care for the cat largely because it is so singularly well able to care for itself.
NOTE: This article is for information only. See your veterinarian for medical advice.