I'm biased. I prefer dogs to cats.
I find that the differences in the way we regard the two animals interesting though.
I've often heard that the killing of small animals/birds by cats is just the animal responding to its nature, to its innate instinct to hunt.
Dogs, if we allowed, would happily form packs, scavange and hunt. In the UK we've even made it illegal for dogs to be allowed to hunt in packs.....
A dog wandering the street would be seen as a possible threat and, perhaps, a danger to traffic. Cats are positively encouraged to roam the neighbourhood. Showing their independence.
If I take my dog out I, quite rightly, am obliged to clean up after it. Cats can wander into anyone's garden and happily take a shit where they like, for the owner of that garden to come foul of at a time convenient to them.
Dogs are smart, biddable, trainable and loyal. Cats are not.
Why do we allow cats so much leeway? Why do we not have similar expectations of them that we do of dogs.
Cats are well fed, groomed and regularly checked over at the local vet. They are then released into the local area to follow that innate instinct. But, they are not doing it to feed themselves; they are not doing it to survive; they are doing it for sport. They are not tired, hungry or cold, they are in the best possible condition.
It is not really a fair fight.
One of the findings of the below mentioned report was that numbers of kills was significantly effected when the cat was kept indoors at night and/or was fitted with a bell.
Domestic Cat Predation on Wildlife
By MICHAEL WOODS, ROBBIE A. MCDONALD and STEPHEN HARRIS
1. A questionnaire survey of the numbers of animals brought home by domestic cats Felis catus was conducted between 1st April and 31st August 1997. A total of 14370 prey items were brought home by 986 cats living in 618 households. Mammals made up 69% of the items, birds 24%, amphibians 4%, reptiles 1%, fish <1%, invertebrates 1% and unidentified items 1%. A minimum of 44 species of wild bird, 20 species of wild mammal, 3 species of reptile and 3 species of amphibian were recorded.
4. Based on the proportion of cats bringing home at least one prey item and the backtransformed means, a British population of approximately 9 million cats was estimated to have brought home in the order of 92 (85-100) million prey items in the period of this survey, including 57 (52-63) million mammals, 27 (25-29) million birds and 5 (4-6) million reptiles and amphibians.