Whether one or both become part of your household is, of course, a matter of personal inclination. There are those who have an intense aversion for cats. There are fanatical bird lovers who argue that because they once knew a cat which killed a bird, the entire feline family should be wiped out. However, from the number of sleek specimens seen dozing on porch or terrace through the countryside, it is safe to assume that the average household harbors at least one cat. There is no room here for a treatise on why people keep cats. Besides, we do not know. We only know that cats were always about the place when we were young and that some sixteen years ago we rescued a half starved Maltese kitten from a city pavement and kept her until she died of old age about a year ago. She had beautiful green eyes and a very short temper. She also upset several preconceived theories. One is that a cat is attached to a place rather than people and that it is difficult if not impossible to take it along when moving to an old place. Our cat was approaching middle age when we acquired our country home. Yet after a few inquiring meows and a minute inspection of the new place, she settled down contentedly. Further, during the years that followed, she made at least two trips a year to the city for sojourns of varying lengths. Inquiry among other cat owners has revealed that this is not at all extraordinary. In fact, this type of animal can become just as attached to its owner as the more flattering and responsive dog.
Nor do all cats kill birds. The average house cat is too indolent to hunt anything. Our own imperfect but individualistic animal was a mighty hunter of field mice but showed little or no interest in the birds flying about above her. They have built their nests for years in arbor and summer house unmolested. But a real killer of birds is hard to dissuade. One can of course remove the bird from its jaws and administer a sound whipping but it is by no means certain that anything much is accomplished by so doing. One cannot argue with a cat. He is the one animal man has not been able to subdue. Possibly therein lies his fascination. Also, barring a few bad habits, he is little trouble and is a distinct ornament.
The dog can be a faithful companion or the worst pest on earth. Which he is, depends on his environment and training. He may be had in many breeds and sizes from the most expensive and delicate specimens down to the mongrel with a League of Nations ancestry. Incidentally, the most benign and intelligent of dogs is often some middle-aged hound of doubtful lineage who can tell your blue ribbon winner how to get about in the canine circles of the countryside.
Pick the breed you prefer but have it in scale with your place. You may have had a secret longing for a St. Bernard or a Great Dane but if you have settled your family in a little saltbox house, it is going to be a little crowded when something only slightly smaller than a Shetland pony starts padding restlessly up and down stairs or flings his weary length down in the middle of the living room rug where you must walk around or over him to turn on the radio or answer the telephone.