Cats and dogs can both make beloved pets. But which is the best option for you? This post delves into the two animals and the questions you should ask before choosing one.
Cat and dogs: the similarities
Whether you get a cat or a dog, there are a few things that you need to be prepared for. Here are just some of the things that cat owners and dog owners have to contend with:
- Both cats and dogs require a basic level of maintenance. You need to be able to feed them, groom them and take them to the vets when necessary.
- All this maintenance can get expensive. This is particularly the case with vet bills, which can be expensive both for cats and dogs depending on the type of treatment.
- You need to be prepared to clean up after their mess. With dogs, you need to be comfortable picking up their poop. Cats can be trained to do their business in a litter tray, but you’ll still have to contend with hairballs (and possibly dead mice!). Both animals can shed a lot of hair.
- Cats and dogs can both demonstrate destructive behaviour. Cats may tear up your furniture and carpets with your claws, while dogs may chew on things that they’re not supposed to. Good training can often prevent these destructive tendencies.
- Cats and dogs both value the company of humans. Dogs express a more obvious desire to be around their owner. Cats tend to seem more aloof, but can still get very lonely and depressed when left alone for long periods. You shouldn’t get a cat or dog if you plan to regularly leave them alone for long periods of the day.
- People can develop allergies to both cats and dogs. If you or one of your household has an allergy, getting a cat or a dog may not be a good idea unless you’re able to manage your allergy effectively with medication.
A few questions to help you decide…
Cats and dogs may have their similarities, but they tend to be suited to very different lifestyles. Below are just some of the questions to ask yourself to determine if a cat or dog is right for you.
Do you have a garden?
If the answer is yes, then a cat or dog could be a perfect pet. If you don’t have a garden, you may want to think twice about getting a dog. Dogs need outdoor space for using the toilet and playing. Cats on the other hand are able to thrive as indoor pets – just make sure to provide a litter tray and some indoor stimulation such as a cat tower and scratching post.
Have you got the time/motivation to go on walks?
Being a dog owner requires you to be a lot more active and outdoorsy. This is because most dogs need to be walked, both to keep them physically fit and to socialize with other dogs. Getting a dog could be great if you’re already active or if you’re looking for a reason to be more active. If you don’t like the idea of going on regular walks, getting a cat might be a better option.
Do you need an animal to guard your home?
A barking dog is one of the most effective burglar deterrents. Certain bigger breeds of dog can be particularly effective at warding off intruders. A ‘guard cat’ is unlikely to be quite as effective.
Do you move around/travel a lot?
If you’re getting a pet cat, you should ideally be prepared to settle in one location for a while. Cats like to have a firm territory and can become easily distressed if constantly uprooted. Dogs on the other hand can make suitable travel companions. They can cope better moving from different locations providing that they are close to their owner. That said, you should keep flights to a minimum as many dogs do not enjoy flying – a road trip in a camper van is a much less distressing way to travel.
Are you looking for a calming and quiet animal?
Cats are generally a lot quieter than dogs. You don’t have to worry about upsetting the neighbours. They’re also able to relieve stress in many people. While some dogs can be docile and calming, many breeds have the tendency to be loud and energetic. Owning can be a lot more demanding and is often compared to having a young child (especially if you decide to get a puppy).
Do you want an animal that’s easy to train?
When it comes to training, cats don’t require quite as much discipline. Many cats will quickly learn to use a litter tray, while dogs will need more perseverance when training them to go to the toilet outside. That said, you can train dogs to do more than you can with cats. From rounding up sheep to helping those with disabilities, dogs can be trained to do all kinds of amazing things.
Is cultural significance important?
It’s worth looking up the cultural significance of both dogs and cats – particularly when moving to a new country or taking up a new religion. For instance, what do cats represent in Chinese culture? What do dogs represent in Chinese culture? While many cultures and religions are accepting of both, others can have mixed attitudes. For instance, in some Muslim countries, dogs are viewed as ‘dirty animals’. Many Hindus meanwhile do not own cats as they are sometimes seen as a bad omen.
Why not both?
It’s worth noting that some people keep both cats and dogs. This could allow you to enjoy the benefits of both pets. Cats and dogs can get along, although it depends very much on the type of dog and the type of cat. You can read this guide to owning a dog and a cat for advice on how to introduce them to one another.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.