Anybody that finds this interesting should read Do Cats Speak? by Paul Corey. It's out of print, but worthwhile & dispels old stereotypes about cats.
I don't think there's any animal in the wild who [makes friends].
Dogs aren't wild... Among domestic animals, it's a matter of whether it's raised to regard others as a threat. As owners of cats and horses can attest, they'll befriend all kinds of creatures if they feel safe.
I could believe that [it's all about being fed] about cats.
It isn't the case. Kittens show attachment while they're still nursing, and cats don't stop because there's no food around.
I mean, they can become affectionate but it's not like they just love us, whatever we do to them.
Socialized domestic animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc.) all act remarkably alike about this. They'll react with shock/confusion if a person they've bonded with strikes them, but won't reject the person unless they're beat enough to decide the person's a threat.
[Cats were very solitary but] they've overcome that.
All kinds of wild & feral cats are born and live in hierarchical groups; they're healthiest/happiest with other cats, preferably ones they grew up with. Nothing to overcome there.
[Dogs & cats] are part of the human family in a way that no other domesticated animal is.
Currently in America, yes, because that's how our society is structured. It's different in other times/cultures: Arabian horses lived in the tent with their masters, some cultures don't see dogs/cats as pets at all.
...in the ability to trust us, dogs have achieved something that no other animal has achieved.
With horses, it's less common as only a percentage of trainers use the methods that allow for that, but they & cats are capable if humans let them.
Benjy would be fine around a newborn. ... I would hesitate before allowing my cats in there. You just never know what a cat might do.
Your dog would be fine; that doesn't mean dogs as a group are. A cat might try to sleep with/on a baby, but that's about it -- some dogs will bite, though.
I must say, there's a gender difference here. I think that women tend to be, the minute they see something like that, oxytocin begins to flow and then the kind of maternal protectiveness, a nurturing instinct.
*gag* A lot of men are nurturing, a lot of women aren't; it's a stereotype! AFAIK, oxytocin's released just during labor -- women don't just randomly pump it out upon seeing young; a lot of us lack maternal urges towards babies or any urge to reproduce.
...people who work with pit bulls say, yep, [they're vicious despite upbringing].
All of the people I've encountered that specialize in rehabilitating pit bulls say the opposite: that their bad rep has been a recent issue from being raised to guard/fight, and can usually be overcome. *All* breeds have bad seeds, regardless.
...cats are so aloof.
People that feel cats are "aloof" have no clue about how to read their body language, or have cats that aren't used to people that can. That's from a lot of experience with even abused/feral cats.
And [cats will] bring back rabbits and rats and birds ....
Cats are like that IF they grew up outside with a mother that taught them; they bring prey home to nourish their human family. Cats raised safely indoors have no clue about hunting, often don't realize prey is edible (or know how to eat solid meat), and are more likely to just be scared if they get outside.
So dogs ...will not hunt because they know you don't like it.
No, a dog that doesn't have a strong prey drive can be trained to not attack. If the dog isn't well-trained, or if it inherited a strong prey drive, it will be too dangerous with a small species no matter how their owner feels.
I would choose a dog...because a dog would go wherever I go.
Well, provided it's well-trained, not aggressive, not afraid of cars/dogs/people...like many dogs.
[My cats] like walking on the beach at night...
I partly had to chuckle at the mental image of a huge litterbox that conjured up! Sadly, going outside cuts the average lifespan of a cat from 15 to 4. Like I said early on, read Do Cats Speak? by Paul Corey; this is one of the things it illustrates all too well.
[Cats] aren't going anywhere near [car rides].
No, your cats aren't. I've heard of people whose cats think it's great fun.
Benjy goes to the vet and lets them do whatever he needs to do.
...and plenty of dogs are the polar-opposite.
And the cats won't. The cats will maul [a vet].
I can only figure that maybe your cats are fearful or mistrusting. I've never run into a problem, not even with ones that were repeatedly hospitalized with chronic problems.
Sounds to me like this guy should have spent a lot of time researching other species and their places in historical societies before spending a book & interview spouting off about them.
Dogs sure didn't teach him to research...
I just wrote a letter in response to an interview with an author on Salon that really drove me batty, Did Dogs Teach Us To Love? Rather than try to explain, I'll reprint the relatively small amount I tackled in More errors than I could shake a stick at...aaargh!!!: