Are you easy-going, exuberant, and extroverted? Or are you rather solitary, a bit quiet, and aloof? Chances are, the animal you choose to have as a pet says something about your personality. It’s no surprise why writers, poets, and artists, in general, are cat people, while singers, movie stars, and those that usually work with people choose to have a dog.
Whether or not this is just a generalization, there are also several other factors to consider when choosing between a member of the Felidae family or a Canidae member. I have both, and I can say they each have their own pros and cons.
If you really want a pet but still don’t know what to choose between a dog and a cat, hopefully this article will help you. However, keep in mind that this decision is ultimately left to you and your lifestyle and personality.
Pros of Owning a Cat
1. Most Cats Are Independent
You can go to work in the morning and come back eight hours later, and your cat may be just fine, or at least won’t make a fuss when you leave the house. They can cater to their own needs and easily entertain themselves.
I remember that I once had to leave Milo, my Persian cat, alone for the weekend. He didn’t do well in unfamiliar territory, so boarding was definitely out of the question. Obviously, I was worried sick, constantly asking myself, “What is he doing?” But when I came back, he acted as though nothing had happened.
However, keep in mind that some breeds can be more sensitive and eager to spend time with their owners.
2. They Are Easy to Take Care Of
All cats need is a water and food bowl and a litter box, and they should be just fine. Of course, you can buy additional items, and honestly, I think most cat owners do that. But the good thing is that cats don’t ruin their toys to the extent that dogs do.
Some spoiled cats have scratching posts, cat trees, grooming kits, catnip, and special shampoos. Others simply enjoy a rolled-up piece of paper and a window view, and that will make their day.
3. They Are Lazy
While there are some super-energetic breeds, such as Siamese and Bengals, most cats are pretty lazy pillow-warmers. They also tend to sleep a lot—up to 16 hours per day. There’s also no need to walk them every day to maintain their energy levels within healthy ranges; tossing a ball around the room will suffice.
4. They Are Clean
I have a cat and a dog, and from this position, I can tell that the typical doggy odor is worse than the cat odor. Cats also rarely have anal gland issues. If you decide to get yourself a member of the Canidae family, then most likely your house will not smell like a cat.
Of course, this can only happen if you make sure to keep the litter box fresh and clean using high-quality litter. If you do this, nobody will be able to tell that you share your roof with a feline (unless they see it, of course).
Cons of Owning a Cat
1. Cats May Cause Allergies
Their fur carries dander, and their saliva contains a protein that’s known to cause allergies. A lot of people suffer from allergies nowadays, and a great many of them are allergic to cats. If you’re one of them and you’re happy with choosing any type of cat breed, a hairless one like the Devon Rex or Sphynx may be a solution.
2. They Have Nails
Unfortunately, those claws can really do their share of damage to your recliner and La-Z-Boy sofa. Been there, done that, so believe me when I say that your cat can be very stubborn when it comes to scratching certain objects in your house.
If your feline isn’t redirected to a nice scratching post, your house may be quickly destroyed. Declawing isn’t definitely a solution, so the best thing you can do is trim your cat’s nails frequently. This way, you’ll save some of your upholstery and furniture. But don’t expect to have everything intact in your house while owning a feline.
3. They Are Standoffish
While this may usually be true, I’ve encountered some cats that were kind of “doggy cats,” meaning they were pretty eager to follow their owners everywhere in the house and happy as can be to greet them.
Yet, both felines I’ve owned decided when to get and give affection on their own terms. They will also let you know when they have had enough, and if you own a feline with a bad temper, it may let you know right away with some teeth marks.
4. They Do Not Like to Travel
Cats tend to be very territorial; they feel at peace when they are in their territory, with their scent all over their favorite items and people. If you travel a lot or go on vacation frequently, your feline may not be a happy camper.
Yet, there are always exceptions, and some cats that traveled a lot with their owner from an early age are pretty comfortable being moved to different countries.
Pros of Owning a Dog
1. Dogs Are Social
Dogs tend to be quite social. Even when it comes to aggressive dog breeds, if they are socialized as puppies, they end up being pretty friendly. You can also take your dog on vacation without any problems; as long as they have their owners with them, they are fine.
Territory isn’t a big deal for them, which means they can easily visit a different destination daily without much fuss. In fact, dogs usually tend to move a lot when searching for food, so they are used to changing their habitat often. Living with their families is a dream come true for any dog out there.
2. They Are Fairly Easy to Train
Ask a dog to sit, stay, give a paw, stay, or roll over, and your dog, given the right incentive, will try everything to make you happy. It is deep in their genes to carry out tasks and have a job, either because of incentives we give them (petting, treats, praise) or out of instinct.
Dogs have lived for many centuries with humans, so it comes naturally for them to be trained. Whether your dog must gather sheep or pull a sleigh, it will do it promptly.
3. They Are Loyal
No matter how friendly a cat may be, a dog will always be more devoted to their owner than a feline. There are even sad stories where dogs have died from grief following their owner’s death. They have a tendency to follow their owners almost everywhere and be with them all the time. In fact, not many people offer the unconditional love that dogs can offer.
4. They Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
I have a dog, and like every dog owner, I have to walk him every day (which means extra daily steps). In other words, dog owners tend to have a healthier lifestyle simply because their pets need to be walked.
Dog owners are also kept healthy because a simple walk outside means exposing yourself to fresh air, especially in the morning when the air tends to be fresh. Unlike exercise programs, dogs ensure consistency because you can’t really skip walking your dog (unless you have a yard), eliminating the risk of postponing exercise.
Cons of Owning a Dog
1. Dogs Depend on Humans
Some dogs can be pretty affected when left alone, and they may end up dealing with separation anxiety, which may lead to destructive behavior. Other dogs may be OK with their owner’s absence but cannot stay alone for long periods of time because they need to be sent out to potty, fed, and also because they tend to feel lonely.
Doogs need to be brought along or boarded when owners are gone for more than a day. It’s sad because many dog owners tend to leave their pets alone at home because of this. Not to mention that dogs have a tendency to destroy things when they are bored or suffering from being left alone.
2. They Need Maintenance
Some dogs need frequent baths as they may be smelly, and others need their anal glands expressed. They also need to chew on bones and toys to keep their teeth in good condition. Oh, and yes, they need regular grooming sessions to keep their fur tidy and nice.
They need to be socialized and trained, especially when it comes to watchdogs, and they must learn leash manners. In other words, owning a god requires much more care than owning a cat.
3. They Need to Be Walked
That morning walk may sometimes feel like a burden to some dog owners. However, if you cannot picture yourself doing this every day, that’s a pretty clear sign you may not be really ready to have a dog.
The truth is, you’ll need to walk your dog 365 days a year—no exceptions. Procrastinating may make your dog feel sad, and hiring a dog walker may be pretty costly. Like it or not, you’ll have to walk your dog, rain or shine, and even in the snow.
4. They Chew
A puppy’s teething may turn into a nightmare. If not redirected to chew bones and toys, most dogs will be tempted to gnaw objects around your house. Some of their favorites are the table’s legs, and some dogs will even chew through the drywall.
Keep in mind that some dogs will chew even if they are no longer puppies if not trained early in life on which behaviors aren’t acceptable and which are. Make sure you do this with your dog, and it will learn their boundaries by leaving your furniture alone. Here’s an interesting book that helped me better understand the training process.
You may also want to read Which 8 Dog Breeds Are Most Likely to Bite Their Owners?