Dog Lovers versus Cat Lovers in Nigeria

By Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM | June 29th, 2017

I was in a different company as a veterinarian when two ladies walked into the clinic with their sick dogs. As usual Landlord (the clinic cat) came out to greet and lie down on the visitors chair and at the sight of the cat the two ladies ran out screaming on top of their voices. At first I thought it was a snake but when I got to know it was about Landlord I was seriously amused at the reaction. I quickly grabbed Landlord and made him enter his cage (a pet carrier dedicated for him).

While I was performing my clinical examination I asked the ladies why they ran out at the sight of the cat and the first thing they echo simultaneously was “WITCH”. “They are witches” they both said staring at Landlord who was not happy to be in the carrier but patiently waiting to be released.

Another episode happened recently when my dog Peach (the pug) tried to play with a Lady that came with her cat for routine examination, the Lady jumped hysterically  and as Peach drew closer the Lady kept shouting: “Please!, Please!!, Please hold him!”. I quickly sent the dog into my office away from the reception before the Lady came down from the waiting chair she was standing on.

I equally asked her why she reacted that way although I knew already that it has something to do with her Muslim believes which has something to do with dog and spiritual cleanliness.

Nigeria is a very Religious Country that all that we do are first viewed from religious perspective before we try to view it literally. Most views that contravenes our religious believe is usually vehemently rejected and this affect our view about animals especially the specific type of animal.

From our records at Fairvet, we have more of Christians owning dogs and More of Muslims owning cats. Currently the numerous breeds of cat that exist around the world are very absent in Nigeria except the local breed. It doesn’t mean that Christians don’t own cats or Muslims owning dogs but the distribution among these religions are more on the opposite.

It has become common practice for many Christian preachers to portray cats as being used by demons or witches to hunt devote Christians and so these cats suffer serious maltreatment in the areas where Christians dominate. These cats are sometimes killed and burnt alive while in some cases with prayers of “back to sender” and of victory over the devil.

On the other side Muslims believe that dogs are unclean animals and should not be touched especially before prayers and in most cases these Muslims tend to abstain completely from them but not in hate but just respecting the religious believe.

I have seen Muslim hunters using dogs for their expeditions and most of these people who are professional hunters make a living with hunting and take good care of their dogs.

There are the liberal Nigerians who refuse to judge these animals based on their religious teachings but based on the fact that they (dogs and cats) deserve to live and to be cared for. These set of people who are mostly in the minority state their own issues with either of the animals which determine their choice of either of the animals as follows:

1.       Cats are mostly independent unlike dogs. Dogs are always looking for attention and will forcefully get it either by barking or jumping on you when they have access to you.

2.       Dogs will mostly welcome you at any time but Cats may even ignore you completely.

3.       Cats are cleaner in nature that a cat will use his tongue to clean his body when stained by anything.

4.       Dogs defecate indiscriminately while cats will try to hide their poop – I refuse to agree with this although, dogs are clean also.

5.        Cats can disappears from your house completely for days due to a female on heat somewhere far away and females can also disappear to find a male. The same applies to dogs but dogs are easier to be restrained from running out than cats that literally jump fences to leave.

6.       Dogs are easier to restrain with chains and leashes but cats are hardly restrained in the same manner.

7.       Scratches from cats are usually more painful than that of dogs due to their sharp claws.

8.       Cats are very good at eliminating rats from the home, factory or shops.

9.       Cats can easily cater for themselves by hunting for food unlike dogs that are very expensive to feed in some cases.

10.   Dogs are used against intruders for security and both faiths embrace this fact about dogs. Etc.

Dogs and Cats are both animals with advantages and disadvantages depending on the person who is judging the animal and the purpose for which they were acquired. The both animals serve almost different purposes and are chosen based on the sentiments of the owners. I have seen people who own both animals that co-exist very well and also complement each other.


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    Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM

    Founder of Fairvet Animal Clinic Ltd since 2011, studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He is well experienced in small animal, large animal & poultry medicine, and also skilled at zoo medicine. He loves animals and builds both professional and personal relationship with pet owners in order to sustain a good interaction with pet and animal owners, coupled with His great skills in programming; he brought about which he personally built from scratch.

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