BRING IT TO BARB: Dog or cat?

Dear Barb,

The best furry friend is one you can (and want to live with.

I’ve heard there are mood-boosting benefits from owning a pet when you are in your 50s and 60s. Is this true? I am alone but not lonely.

Open to a furry friend

Dear Open,

Most of us have heard about the benefits of a dog to calm a child or an elderly person. But don’t underestimate the power of having a cat in your home. Of 47 million U.S. households with a cat, 1 in 3 owners are in their 50’s and 60’s according to a 2017 national survey.  Cat owners who were in their late 50’s had half as many diagnosed health conditions and took 30 percent fewer prescribed medications as did their counterparts who didn’t own a cat.

There are key points someone might be able to use to argue why having a cat could be considered better than having a dog. These comparisons were actually meant to be funny, not serious. Both cats and dogs have many benefits.

  • Dogs need to be walked. Cats don’t.
  • Dogs have to be let out to potty. Cats don’t.
  • Dogs will eat as much food as you give them. Cats don’t. They eat a little bit several times a day, eat less overall, and their food is typically less expensive.
  • Most dogs have to be bathed and groomed on a regular basis. Cats are very clean and keep themselves groomed for the most part.
  • Most dogs will help themselves to a sandwich left on the coffee table for a bite. Cats would never.
  • Dogs bark. Loudly. Cats meow.
  • Dogs require you to interact with them. Cats would prefer that you do not.
  • Some dogs eat their own poop. Cats? Not so much.
  • Dogs will bark at people who stop by for a visit. Cats just ignore them.
  • Dogs will try to sniff your crotch. Cats wouldn’t dare.

If you decide to adopt a furry friend, then the best way to decide is to look at your lifestyle and decide who you want to live with. Dogs are like toddlers–they need lots of time and attention. Cats are like teenagers. Give ‘em a roof, food and a warm place to sleep, and then let them come to you.  


“Bring it to Barb” is written by Barb Rock, a mental health counselor and the author of the book “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send questions about mental health, relationships or life issues to her at