It’s an age-old question: Cats or dogs? Which should I choose? It’s not like deciding on a pair of shoes or an appetizer. This is a decision that will affect you and yours for years to come.
You can only like one, right? Kind of like Elvis Presley or the Beatles. You at least need to have a preference. Some might think that. And, maybe that’s the case. But, perhaps it’s not…
Let’s walk through if you’re a cat person or a lover of the dog step-by-step. By the end, you'll figure out if a canine or a feline is in your future.
Choosing the Pet You Want? There are Lots of Factors
You don't have a pet at home and you're thinking about getting one. Dogs and cats have their pros and cons; assets and liabilities.
So, it’s all about your expectations of your new pet. Like with most things, your preferences will pretty much make the decision about which one is right for you.
Before choosing, consider the initial and recurring costs, home environment, size, temperament, and physical characteristics. Think about training, exercising, and grooming needs.
Time Isn’t Always on Your Side
When choosing between a cat or a dog, you should think about how much time you can dedicate to them. Dogs require more attention than cats and don’t like to be left home alone. Are you able to provide the amount of love and car your pet will need?
Also, how many years are you willing to commit yourself to caring for a pet? Life expectancy will vary from cat to dog as well as breed to breed. Different species and breeds of animals have differing needs for companionship and attention, as well as differing life expectancies. For example, some larger birds have been known to live more than 100 years!
Do your research to make sure you have a realistic understanding of the commitment you’re making when you get a particular type of pet.
The advantage of a cat over a dog is that it adapts more easily to your schedule. If you don't have enough time on a given day, i.e. you have to be out of the house for almost the whole time, a cat can handle it. In the case of a dog, you will need to find a person who will go out with him or her for a walk.
If you’re home most of the time and want a pet that will hang out with you, then a dog may be your best choice. There’s a reason why we call dogs a man’s best friend. Dogs are pack animals and are accustomed to being in a group. They’re sociable, friendly, and typically like to spend time with their owners.
The Cost of Living with a Cat or Dog
How much can you afford to spend on your new pet?
We're just going to put it in black and white. Dogs are generally more expensive than cats. For example, dogs have a tendency to destroy their toys, they have to be made from much tougher (and much more expensive) materials -- or replaced often.
Once you own your pet, there are plenty of expenses you will have to incur, from supplies to caretakers. Cat toys are relatively cheap to buy and even cheaper (and easier) to DIY.
Will Your Home or Living Space Fit a Cat or Dog Better?
When choosing a pet, it’s important to find an individual cat or dog that fits well with your personality and living situation. You may be able to find a more social cat that does well in a small apartment or a more independent dog that loves your large house.
Do you live in an apartment or condominium with breed or size restrictions? A home with a big yard? A patio-style home with a small yard or limited space? Do you have children under the age of 10?
Can you tolerate barking and meowing, or do you prefer a quieter pet?
Dogs will bark. Some more than others. Many breeds of dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, Spaniels, Beagles, and Basset Hounds, tend to be much more vocal by nature due to their innate hunting instincts.
Cats may not bark, but some of them are definitely talkers! Siamese Persian, Japanese Bobtail, and the Sphynx are just some of the breeds of cats known to be very vocal compared to others. It’s important to choose your pet according to your tolerance level for barks and meows.
When deciding between a cat or dog, consider the presence of children and any other pets in your household; particularly younger children. Animals can be great companions for a growing family but may require acclimatization if unaccustomed to being around children in the past.
Choosing the right type of dog or cat for your family and living situation is a must. Behaving themselves is also a must, right?
No question. Dogs are much easier to train than cats. Their pack animal instincts encourage them to follow what their owner wants them to do. They’re also eager to please. If you want to be able to train a pet to perform tricks, then a dog is definitely the better choice.
Not to say that cats can't be trained. It’s possible. It’s just an outlier and not the norm.
We're a nation of pet lovers, and rightly so!
Cats and dogs offer unconditional love, affection and friendship, as well as a host of therapeutic benefits such as improved general health and wellbeing. After all, who doesn't like a cuddle from a furry friend at the end of a long day?
Pet owners have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and are less likely to suffer from stress, depression and anxiety. A study by the US Department of Health has even shown that owning a pet significantly improves the chances of surviving a heart attack, while another study found that people who own a pet deal with stress and loss better than those who don't. So, owning a pet is good for more than just cuddles!
Added human health benefit is a rare instance where both types of animals are in the plus column. For the most part, at least.
Yes, both cats and dogs can upset your allergies. But, we’re sorry to point this out, kitty lovers: You’re twice as likely to be allergic to your cat than you are to your dog.
This is true at a molecular level. The Fel d 1 glycoprotein found on a cat’s skin can be transferred by touch and stay airborne for far longer than similar proteins shed by dogs.
If you have a tough time with allergies, certain dog breeds may be in your future. They do think that a genetically engineered hypoallergenic cat could be on the horizon in the near future though.
Those Who Prefer Active Lifestyles Will Want a Dog
Are you the active, outdoorsy type? If you want to play with your pet outside, a dog may be the right choice. This isn’t to say that cats cannot be taken outside under your close supervision or walked on a leash, but a dog is much more likely to enjoy the experience.
Just to highlight a few… Some of the best dogs for more sedentary lifestyles include the English Bulldog, Chow Chow, Basset Hound, Boston Terrier and the Shih Tzu.
People with active lifestyles want to bring their dogs along for adventure and exercise. If you’re one of those people, consider an Irish Setter, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Golden Retriever, Weimaraner or Dalmatian for your next companion.
Which pet you choose should ultimately depend on your personality and living situation. If you prefer a friendlier, more social pet, then a dog may be best suited for your personality. However, if you live in a small apartment and don’t have time to take a dog for walks or runs every day, then your living situation may be far more conducive for a cat.
The Choice Between a Cat or Dog is Tough
The choice between cats and dogs is a never-ending debate. It won’t be solved for everyone right here today. If you have limited indoor space, a busy lifestyle or simply want a more independent pet, you might be better suited to a cat rather than a dog.
Cats are relatively quiet and are happy to be left alone to sleep and entertain themselves for most of the day.
Dogs just want you. They enjoy social interaction and love being played with.
Your choice comes down to factors like the ones we’ve just discussed. Don’t just pick a cat or dog because it looks cute. Can you take good care of it? Is your home suitable for them? What are you hoping to gain from the pet and can you afford to give it a good life? The answers to these questions will guide you in the right direction.
Jenna and the JLDD Team