“Am I a cat or dog person?” is a commonly asked question – and it’s a question where the answer depends on a variety of factors. The internet is home to many a “what is the best pet for me?” test, but ultimately, the decision will come down to your personality, your lifestyle and the home in which you live.
The difference between owning cats and dogs
Are you a cat or dog person? Most people will already have some experience of one or the other: they may have grown up with either a cat or dog in their family, or simply had better experiences of one over the other.
In reality, every single pet will require attention, time, money, love, grooming, play time and regular veterinary appointments. In general, cats are tidier, easier to care for, cost less (usually!) and are more independent, while dogs are more expensive and demand more time and attention, as well as sometimes being more affectionate. The decision you make will not simply be a question of “Would I prefer a cat or dog?”, but will depend on what you are looking for from your pet, and how much time, money and attention you are able to commit to your new furry friend.
Remember too that it’s not simply a case of choosing whether a cat or dog is the best fit. In both animals, different breeds have different characteristics that need to be considered. Certain cats require more attention than others, while some breeds of dog are known for their loud barking. Some cats are more prone to health problems than others, while certain dog breeds have a tendency towards worse tempers, or may be poor at recall off the lead. To help, you may find it useful to do a dog or cat chooser quiz online, which will give you an indication as to what to expect from each.
The decision may well not be an easy one: there are pros and cons to both dog and cat ownership, as we explain below.
The pros and cons of owning cats and dogs
There are many benefits to owning a cat. They’re low-maintenance pets who simply need food, water, a clean litter tray and occasional brushing, along with plenty of affection – on their terms! With a cat, it’s possible to go away for a night and leave them to their own devices, providing they are left with plenty of food and fresh water to sustain them, or you arrange for a neighbour or friend to pop by to top up their bowls. They are also entertaining and can be very playful…again, when they wish to be.
Many, however, are known to shed a great deal of hair, which can be minimised – although not completely resolved – by brushing. Their claws can be very sharp and you may be unlucky and find yourself on the receiving end of scratches, which may be playful rather than intentional – but these claws can also cause damage to soft furnishings and carpets.
Finally, the litter tray may put some potential pet owners off: the box will need to be cleaned on a regular basis and can lead to unpleasant odours or accidents around the house if left for too long. However, many cats love to spend time outdoors and can be easily trained to use nature’s toilet, ideal if you have a cat flap that enables them to come and go as they please.
Dogs, on the other hand, make for great company, being far more reliant on human care than their feline counterparts. They can also make their owners feel safe – both at home and when out and about – which is ideal for those who live alone. Dogs also encourage their owners to get out and about and be more active, and have an unwavering loyalty towards their owners that is incredibly rewarding.
However, dogs also require plenty of training. Toilet training a dog can be messy, while obedience training can be a long and arduous task – dog ownership certainly requires patience. They also require plenty of attention and regular walks, and cannot be left alone for long periods of time, which may be a problem for those who work long hours or travel regularly.
Any overnight travel will require the dog to be left with a friend or booked into kennels – and the cost of longer-term dog-sitting while on holiday can be high. Cost is a factor in other areas too, with food, vaccinations, vet care, toys, bedding and more all adding up.
Why lifestyle matters
Your lifestyle plays a huge part in your choice of pet: the space available at home, your activity level, the make-up of your household and the time you have available to dedicate to a pet can all influence the decision.
If you don’t enjoy the outdoors, are less mobile, or regularly lead a busy lifestyle, a dog may not be the right fit for your family. Cats require far less space and no daily walking – and some indoor cats may even be happy with no outside space whatsoever.
Cats are naturally solitary animals, while dogs rely on plenty of attention, so working long hours can also impact on your decision. However, if you have a secure outdoor space, enjoy easy access to parks or other rural environments and have a good amount of space within your home, a dog may be the ideal pet for you.
When trying to decide between a cat or dog, consider any other pets in your household too, and whether there are children present. Both animals can be great companions for a growing family but may require acclimatisation if unused to being around children in the past, particularly children that are very young.
Whether you opt for a cat or dog, one thing is certain: a pet is a loved member of the family, who should be treated with the respect, care and attention that they deserve. Only you will know whether your situation is right for one or the other – be sure to think of the animal’s needs before making that final decision.
Article courtesy of Zoetis Animal Health.