Is a Dog or Cat the Better Pet?

Sound off! Which is better: dogs or cats Which one most woos your heart? National Puppy Day and Cuddly Kitten Day both fall on March 23, which gave me the idea to ask pet lovers whether they preferred dogs or cats. I posed this question on my Facebook page and the pages of these groups: Blog Paws, Cat Writers Association, Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, Husker Cats, and Lincoln Pet Exchange. What follows are the answers I received, along with some information on the differences between these two popular pets.

You ask a dog club which they prefer? I would think that would be obvious.—GLOC Member

For those who are aware that the orientation of Greater Lincoln Obedience Club is that of training dogs, it might come as no surprise that most respondents picked our canine friends. Answers ranged from the short answer of “Dogs!” to variations on the theme that cats are monsters. Teresa wrote that her cat, Tippy, terrorizes their dog Baxter. For example, she likes to jump off a chair or the table onto his back. In addition, Teresa’s senior cat hates Tippy and is always picking fights with her. Teresa shared that Tippy is also mean to people and then cited a couple of her crimes: “She’ll lays on the stairs and, while you are walking down them, will move so that she’s under your foot and you fall. She’ll swipe at you claws out as you walk by.” Personally, Teresa could do without that particular cat, but the kids like her and so Tippy continues to have a home despite her terrible ways.

The one exception came from Jeannine, which vindicated my decision to ask dog club members whether they prefer dogs or cats.  Although she loves both dogs and cats, if she could only have one, “It would be a cat.” She added, “The very fact that they are so independent makes it that much more special when they trust you.”

My husband—who has been a member of GLOC for eight years has always been a dog lover and has only lived with cats since we married—now says that he loves dogs and cats equally. “Dogs and cats are different, but there are good things and bad things about both. It’s easier to have a close relationship with a dog, because they stick more closely with their people and pick up words more quickly. When you talk and your dog tilts its head, you know its listening. But that also means that dogs are needier. My dog will stare at me and/or tap his foot impatiently when he wants something from me. Cats are more independent and are often aloof. But because of that, when a cat chooses to spend time with you, it’s more meaningful. Also, cats are less work. When I’m 70 or 80, I’d probably pick a cat over a dog.

Cats rule; dogs drool.—Husker Cats Member

On the opposite spectrum, the group Husker Cats consists mostly of members who care for homeless community cats and the Cat Writers Association consists of authors who dedicate many hours to writing about domesticated cats. Naturally, most respondents picked our feline friends.

At the opposite end of spectrum, Husker Cats members care for homeless community cats, and Cat Writers Association members are authors who dedicate many hours to writing about domesticated cats. Naturally most respondents picked our feline friends.

Molly from the Cat Writers Association composed this considerate response: “Aside from the fact that people love them, cats and dogs are night and day to me, and so in my opinion cannot be judged as better than the other. Yet they are in no way equal. I am a cat person. I understand cats whereas I don’t have a clue with a dog. I know what a cat’s slow blink, purr, or lashing tail means; with a dog, a smile looks the same as a grimace: does he like me or is he about to attack? I can’t tell, no affinity there. Cats are my life; dogs are not.”

Leeza Ann from Husker Cats owns both, and doesn’t list a preference, but her dozen cats do far outnumber the two dogs. “We got both dogs and three of the cats on purpose. About half of the cats are indoor/outdoor cats and the rest are barn cats. We trap/sterilize/vaccinate and then release them, but once they’re sterilized and have a food source they tend to stay.” She referred specifically to one feral cat that she trapped a second time because of an injured foot. “He was in a kennel in the house (with daily foot soaks, etc.) for two months. He’s now sweet and housebroke. He’s requested not to live outside anymore.”

Leeza Ann from Husker Cats doesn’t claim a preference, but her dozen cats far outnumber her two dogs. “We got both dogs and three of the cats on purpose. About half of the cats are indoor/outdoor cats and the rest are barn cats. We trap/sterilize/vaccinate and then release them, but once they’re sterilized and have a food source they tend to stay.” She referred specifically to one feral cat that she trapped a second time because of an injured foot. “He was in a kennel in the house (with daily foot soaks, etc.) for two months. He’s now sweet and housebroke. He’s requested not to live outside anymore.”

I want kittens.–Mary, Lincoln Pet Exchange

I think you need BOTH in your life.—Diana, Lincoln Pet Exchange

The biggest discussion arose in BlogPaws. Bryn wrote, “I love both, and I find that they can both be amazing companions! It hurts my  ❤ that I’m allergic to cats!” To which Beth responded, “I’m a dog person, even though I have a cat. Both make great companions, but I prefer the predictable reactions of my dogs. They like me all the time.” Cathy wrote, “They both have their good points but we’re cat people. Never had dogs.” To which Geoffrey pointed out, “Dogs keep the coyotes away from the cats.” Over all, the consensus in Blog Paws was: “Pets rock!” Cathy noted that she “had and loved both!” Susan shared, “Daniel and I both grew up in what people would call zoos and loved every minute of it. Pets are the best!”

What are some similarities and differences between dogs and cats?

DOGS CATS
Basic Supplies Food and water bowl

Leash and collar

Brush and comb

Toys

Crate

Food and water bowl

Collar

Brush and comb

Toys

Crate

Litter box

Scratching post

Extra Supplies Dog bed

Chews and treats

 

Cat bed

Cat tower

Leash and collar

Feeding Dry, canned, raw
Most dogs need between 25-30 calories per pound per dayCan survive on plant foodCan tolerate going without food longer than cats due to being better at using fat reserves
Dry, canned, raw
Most cats need between 250 and 300 calories per dayNeed meat to liveCannot tolerate going without food for more than three days; will develop liver disease
Grooming Dental care

Claws dull from use

Regular hair brushing and (especially for those with long hair) bathing

Heartworm medication

Flea and tick medication

Dental care

Claws retract and remain sharp unless clipped

Regular hair brushing

Outdoor cats:

Heartworm medication

Flea and tick medication

Training Need to be housebroken

Socialization

Enrichment

Taught to use litter box

Socialization

Enrichment

Playing Fetch, hide-and-seek, run-and-chase, tug-of-war Climb-and-jump, Hide-and-seek, Stalk-and-pounce
Exercise Regular walks Play time
Health Average life expectancy: seven to fourteen years; can live to 20 Average life expectancy: twelve to fourteen; can live to over 20
Attention The typical dog needs more personal attention than a cat and is not suitable for people who are away from home for hours or days The typical cat enjoys a mixture of attention and independence; They can cope with their owners being away for hours but develop stress if left for days without attention

If you’re interested exploring this topic in greater depth, Vet Street ranks them on vision, smell, speed, endurance, and intelligence: Dog Vs. Cat.

Your preference of dogs or cats might be the result of limited experiences. I grew up thinking that only canines were capable of being companions. A stray cat showed me the error of my ways. But you might also have lived with both and truly prefer one to the other. Then as Elizabeth noted in Blog Paws, just feel grateful there are both dogs and cats, because neither dogs or cats can be “all to all people”. Finally, like me, you might have experienced the joys of living with and loving both. In that case, March 23 will the one day of the year when the calendar encourages you to celebrate all things dog and cat.

I think it’s like comparing apples and oranges; they’re totally different. I love cats because of their adorable little faces and soft fur. I love dogs because of their emotional expression and kindness. I can’t choose; won’t choose.—Blog Paws member

 

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