Is Your Veterinarian a Cat Person or Dog Person? (And Does It Matter?)

Dr. Patty Khuly

Where I work there are three veterinarians on staff: two old-timers and me. One guy is lovingly referred to by a large percentage of our clients as “the cat vet,” while the other has a rep for preferring to see dogs.

Me? Though I’ve been there almost sixteen years, I still get called “the girl vet” and haven’t managed to get pigeonholed for harboring a preference. For which I am most grateful. After all, I truly don’t have a favorite species when it comes to treating cats and dogs. Here’s why:

#1 Challenging Pathologies

Dogs and cats each come with their own unique set of challenges, not the least of which have to do with the different kinds of troubles, diseases, and traumas each tends to suffer. It undeniably makes my job more challenging when I know I have a wider array of maladies and conditions to contend with.

#2 Behavior in the Hospital

Another source of excitement in my career comes from the challenges each species’ behavior poses. Cats can be especially tricky to handle deftly, while dogs demand an entirely different set of skills. Believe it or not, I especially enjoy meeting both species’ individual needs when it comes to the unique displays of fear-aggression so common to the veterinary hospital environment.

#3 Personality at Home

Then there’s always their “natural,” at-home personalities to consider. These are the features that earn them your own personal designation as a “cat person” or “dog person.”

There's no mistaking that most humans tend to harbor a deep-seated preference for one species or another. But it’s not enough to harbor a predilection. Most of us also like to categorize humanity into two camps based on their canine- and feline-based inclinations.

Consider the cat people: They have lots to offer on the intelligence and independence of their species of choice. Waxing poetic on the lithe grace and wild feline charm of the cat, it’s argued no dog could compete with such animal perfection. Their presence in our lives, they eloquently argue, offers a continuous stream of near-magical experiences.

They will also assert that cats are more intelligent and infinitely more interesting based on their famed fickleness and selective ways. Dogs are just not discriminating enough.

But so flow the passionate arguments from the dogged set. They, too, have a way of taking anything less than a complete acceptance of the concept of canine superiority over cats as a direct affront to their dogs' unique role in the evolution of humanity as we know it. Dogs are simply better suited to being “man’s best friend.”

I, for one, like to steer clear of these arguments (and so do plenty of veterinarians I know). In fact, I know some veterinarians who treat the subject as they would the issue of offspring preference: There’s no way they would ever allow themselves to be cornered into admitting they play favorites.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that some of us do take a liking for one species or another. Whether it’s because we prefer to treat their sort of diseases or brand of behavior –– or perhaps because we tend to enjoy them so much in a domestic environment –– some of my colleagues will happily cop to being “the cat guy” or the “dog lady.”

But me? Not so much…

OK, so now it's your turn: Are you innately one or the other? And what does that say about you? Does it matter whether your veterinarian is a dog or a cat person?

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