An old expression says, "Man's best friend is his dog." Today, however, it seems that cats have replaced dogs as the most popular pets in American homes.
Americans have more than 62 million pet dogs. But even more cats ---more than 64 million ---live in American homes.
These pet cats may have long hair or short hair. They are different colors and sizes. Some are costly animals that take part in competitions. Many more are common American mixtures of several kinds of cats.
这些宠物猫有的毛长，有的毛短。 它们的颜色和大小也各不相同。 有些曾经参加过比赛，身价昂贵。 更多的则是普通的美国杂交猫。
Most house cats live a good life. They are not expected to work for their food. Instead, they rule their homes like furry kings and queens. They wait for their owners to serve them.
大多数家猫生活舒适。 它们不需为食物而工作。 相反它们像穿着皮毛的皇帝和皇后统治着家庭， 等待着主人们为它们服务。
Americans are increasingly serious about their cats. These concerns have made the care of cats into big business.
Each year, cat owners buy tons of food especially prepared for cats. They buy toys and other equipment. They buy jewelry and clothes for themselves with images of cats on them. Some owners even bury their dead pets in special burial grounds.
每年，猫主人们会买数以吨计专门为猫准备的食物。 他们购买玩具和其它设备。 他们为自己购买带有猫咪图象的珠宝饰物和衣服。 一些主人甚至还将死去的宠物埋在特殊的墓地。
Humans have loved and respected cats for centuries. Scientists have evidence that cats and people lived together as long as 8,000 years ago. The small house cat was once a highly honored animal. In ancient Egypt, for example, people who killed a cat could be punished by death.
人类对猫的喜爱和重视已经有几个世纪之久。 科学家有证据表明早在8,000年以前，猫和人类就共同生活了。 小小的家猫一度是高度受尊重的动物。 例如，在古埃及杀死一只猫的人可能被处死。
Early in American history cats were not treated as gods, however. They probably arrived in the United States with settlers and traders from Europe. These cats worked. They killed rats and mice.
然而，在美国创立之时，猫未被人们像神一样来对待。 它们可能是与定居者和商人一起从欧洲来到美国的。 这些猫得工作，得捕杀鼠类。
Sometimes, Americans mistreated their cats. During the early days of the nation, religious extremists believed that some cats were working for the devil. Black cats were especially suspected of being evil.
有时候，美国人还曾虐待他们的猫。 在建国初期，宗教极端分子认为一些猫是为魔鬼服务的。 特别是黑猫更被怀疑与邪恶有关。
Later, American families who had enough food began taking cats into their homes. People cared for the cats because the animals gave them pleasure. The cats thanked people for feeding them by making a purring sound. This pleasant noise usually means a cat is happy.
后来，一些不愁吃穿的美国家庭开始在家中养猫。 人们喜欢猫是因为这种小动物能给他们带来欢乐。 猫以它们满足的咕噜声答谢人们的饲养。 这种悦耳的声音通常意味着猫咪的快乐。
Animal experts offer several reasons why cats have become so popular as house pets. They say cats need less care than dogs. And cats do not seem to suffer as much as dogs from being alone if the owners are away.
动物专家提出了几条理由，说明猫作为家庭宠物为什么如此受人喜爱。 他们指出猫需要的照顾比狗少。 当主人不在时，独自在家的猫似乎比狗所受的痛苦要少些。
Still, millions of other people do not like cats at all. They say dogs are better and more loving pets. They say cats do not have much feeling. They believe cats stay with people only to be fed. Cat owners defend their pets against such criticism. They say cats are just much more independent than dogs.
然而仍有数百万人一点也不喜欢猫。 他们认为狗更好，是对主人更亲的宠物。 他们觉得猫的感情不丰富。 他们认为猫只是为了食物才和主人在一起。 对于这种批评，猫的主人们为他们的宠物辩护， 他们说猫只是比狗更有独立性。
A student of animal medicine explains the situation this way: Dogs follow you around. They want you to talk to them and play with them a lot of the time. Cats like more space and more privacy. This does not mean they do not love their owners.
对于这种情况，一位学习兽医的学生这样解释： 狗到处跟着你。 它们要你花上很多时间与它们谈话，陪它们嬉戏。 猫则喜欢更多的空间和更多的独处， 这并不意味着它们不爱它们的主人。