In the world of pets, the lines are clearly and quite firmly drawn: in general, someone is either a cat person or a dog person. Since you’re here, we’re guessing you’re on #TeamDog to an extent! But perhaps you’ve considered bringing home a feline companion, too?
In that case, there are some things you should know about raising a cat versus raising a dog. Although they’re probably the two most common household pets worldwide, not all domesticated pets are alike! Raising a kitten is very different from raising a puppy. What exactly are the differences here, you might be wondering? Allow us to break it down for you. Here’s a quick guide on the differences between dogs and cats. It might come in handy if you plan on venturing into the feline world!
How Dogs and Cats View Relationships
Regardless of which animal you choose, you’re going to love your pet and of course your pet will love you too. That’s the bottom line. But the way dogs and cats view relationships with their owners differs greatly, and understanding the “why” and “how” behind it can help you to become a more effective pet owner.
Let’s start by looking at dogs. Inherently, dogs are pack creatures, which means they are quite relationship-driven. Most dogs tend to stick fairly closely to their owners, following you everywhere. You can expect most dogs to be right on their owners’ heels, whether you’re venturing to the back yard or the kitchen or even the bathroom. If you want a personal shadow that will keep you company 24/7, you can’t go wrong with a dog.
On the other hand, cats tend to be more independent than dogs. This doesn’t mean your cat won’t ever want attention or cuddles! Some cats are quite cuddly. And obviously your cat will still need plenty of care in terms of being fed and having their litter box cleaned. But in general, and especially when compared to dogs, cats typically do better with alone time. A lot of cats even prefer it.
For this reason, cats are definitely more low-maintenance when it comes to relationships. As long as a cat has food and water, some toys, and a clean litter box and environment, they can usually be left alone for long periods of time with little to no issues. This isn’t true for dogs, though—especially if they’re still in the puppy stage. Dogs need much more supervision and attention, and they may suffer from separation anxiety when left at home for more than a few hours on their own.
House Training Dogs vs. Cats
Another thing that makes cats more low-maintenance is the process of house training them. Thankfully (and much to the owners’ appreciation!) most kittens instinctively know to go to the litter box when they need to use the bathroom. They automatically know to seek out dirt or sand when nature calls. So as long as you have a clean litter box set up for them, most cats are all set.
If you’ve never owned a cat before, it’s important to know that many cats will not use a dirty litter box! This means you’ll have to scoop their litter box at least once a day—some cats even prefer if you scoop it more often—and you’ll also want to totally change the litter on a weekly basis.
When it comes to puppies, though, teaching them where to do their business is a more complex process. Dogs aren’t born knowing that “going in the house = bad.” For this reason, you’ll have to devote a lot of time, effort, and patience toward training out this behavior.
There are many different approaches to house training your puppy, and pet owners all over the world have success with all of them. Crate training and newspaper training are two of the more common approaches. You will need to choose the technique that works best for you, though. Whichever route you go, just prepare yourself to invest a lot of patience in the process!
Grooming Your Dog or Cat
This will probably come as no surprise to you, now that you know how independent most cats tend to be. But for the most part, cats can take care of themselves when it comes to grooming. If you’ve ever been around cats for any period of time, you may have noticed that they spend an awful lot of time licking themselves. This is because cats are quite particular about cleanliness!
If you have a long-haired cat, you will need to brush them regularly. And you’ll want to provide your cat with a scratching post or two, so they have something to file their nails on (that isn’t your carpet). But other than that, there isn’t much you’ll need to do in terms of grooming your cat.
Again, dogs are a much different story. They don’t have that same instinctual need to stay clean. On the contrary, you’ll find that most puppies are perfectly happy to roll around in the mud and then stay caked in dirt for the rest of the day! This means, as a dog owner, you’ll have to put forth a bit of effort to keep your dog clean and healthy.
Depending on your dog’s breed and how much time they spend in the great outdoors, your dog will need a bath anywhere from two times a month to every few months. And you will need to brush your dog’s coat as well, especially if they are a long-haired breed.
With both cats and dogs, even if you don’t need to bathe them, it’s important to pay close attention to their nails, gums, coat, and skin. This will help you catch any abnormalities, like dry skin or bleeding gums. You will also be able to tell if your pet ever falls victim to fleas or ticks.
Dogs vs. Cats: Sleeping Habits
Cats are nocturnal. If you’re on a typical “stay awake all day and sleep all night” schedule, you may be surprised to find your new kitten full of energy, pouncing on your face, and ready to play at all hours of the night! Most cat owners grow used to a fluffy ball of fur jumping around while they’re trying to snooze.
On the other hand, your dog will probably sleep when you do… and then sleep a bit more too. Puppies are most active throughout the day. As long as you keep them plenty busy throughout the day by taking walks and providing them with stimulating toys, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get your dog to sleep through the night.
Regardless of when the sleep happens, you can expect lots of sleeping hours from both cats and dogs. Up until they’re a few months old—and maybe even past the puppy and kitten stage—your pet may be expected to sleep anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a day. So don’t be alarmed if you find your new companion taking several naps a day!
Properly Exercising Your Dog or Cat
Kittens absolutely love chasing toys and they will maybe even paw a ball back and forth with you. This playful stage is most apparent during the kitten stage, but older cats like to play sometimes too! Cats are also extremely agile. They love to jump and climb, so providing them with a cat tower is a great way to keep them off your furniture and give them a safe place to play.
When it comes to exercising, that’s about the extent of keeping your cat active. Dogs, on the other hand, need much more movement. That’s why a puppy is the perfect choice for someone looking for an exercise buddy!
Of course, a dog’s athletic ability varies depending on the breed. But in general, dogs are much more athletic than cats. At the very least, your dog will need to take a quick walk every day, especially if they don’t have a closed-in yard to run around in. During the puppy stage, you may even find that they want to go on multiple walks each day.
And if you’ve always wanted a buddy to accompany you on hikes, swims, or long strolls through the park, we’re sure your puppy will be happy to join you.
Keeping Your Puppy or Kitten Healthy
Regardless of whether you choose to bring home a puppy or kitten—or why not both?—regular trips to the veterinarian are an absolute must. Vet visits will be quite frequent when your pet is young. There will be a required series of vaccinations and tests that your vet will put them through.
But even past the puppy and kitten stage, you will need to schedule a wellness visit once or twice a year throughout adulthood. Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, regular vet visits are important because they give your vet the opportunity to assess the animal’s growth and development. Your vet is also equipped to catch any potential health issues before they turn serious.
Parasite prevention is another very important reason why you should never skip the vet. Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other external and internal parasites pose a great threat to cats and dogs alike. Your vet can recommend the best preventative products. In addition, it may be helpful to learn warning signs, such as heartworm symptoms in dogs or how to tell if your cat has fleas.
Now that you know what the major differences are between these two animals, it’s time to make your choice! Do you still feel that you’re either a dog or a cat person? Of course, we err on the side of dogs in most cases… but there is nothing wrong with bringing home one of each. Dogs and cats have been known to form beautiful friendships!
Regardless of which animal you pick, as long as you are prepared to devote plenty of time and effort toward caring for your pet, it won’t be long before another beautiful relationship is formed.