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Don't get me wrong, I like the Shakalakas with their dancing, cute (and useful) masks and that cute innocent "aura" about them but I think the felyne companions are better simply for 3 reasons.
1. You can name your felyne companions.
2. You can customize you're felynes' equipment more then the shakalakas' and it looks snazzier (and cuter <3) on the felynes.
3. This reason applies the first 2 reasons, All in all you have a much stronger "connection" to your felyne companions then the Shakalakas which were sort of forced upon you (although I still like them).