The question of cats vs dogs and which is the ultimate pet has hounded dog devotees and feline fanciers for centuries. If you had to decide on only one, which would you choose? It’s a real conundrum. Both species make great pets, both of them love owners to a fault and bring joy and happiness in their lives.
To make this tough decision a little easier, check out some of the areas and ways in which cats and dogs differ the most, and you be the judge of who makes a better companion.
Which Is More Popular, Cats or Dogs?
Americans are a nation of pet lovers (more than half the country owned a pet in 2018), but they seem to prefer cats to dogs. Stats show that there were 94.2 million felines living in US households last year and 89.7 million dogs, putting cats in second place and dogs ranking third among the most popular pets.
Caring for Kitties and Pups
Having a pet is a huge responsibility. Your furry companions need food, toys, and exercise, but above all, they need love and attention.
Who Needs More Stuff, a Cat vs a Dog?
Cats don’t need much to be happy. To welcome a feline into your home, you need to provide a food and water bowl, a litter box, maybe a few toys and a scratching post, although the latter is not really necessary as the cat will find its own (most likely your furniture).
Dogs need a collar, a leash, and a dog bed or dog house (if your pet lives outside), in addition to water and food bowls, chew toys, and treats.
Dog Versus Cat: Feeding Habits
Although both adult cats and dogs should be fed once or twice a day, canines eat considerably more.
A medium-size dog should eat around 1 cup (8 ounces) of food, while felines eat just under 1 cup (6 ounces) a day.
The feeding habits of kittens and puppies also differ. While kittens are fed twice a day, puppies eat three to four times in a day, usually half a cup per feeding.
Grooming Needs: Who Needs More Pampering?
In general, a cat is the easiest pet to take care of. Felines tend to clean and groom themselves and don’t usually need the help of humans. The exception is long-haired cats (which are a human creation, not a natural one)—they should be brushed and bathed regularly to keep their coats shiny and silky and to avoid potential skin issues. Some owners choose to declaw their felines, although most animal activists, as well as many owners, are against such procedures. Trimming the nails is acceptable.
Unlike cats, dogs need more regular baths, brushings, and haircuts. Both felines and canines can get ear infections, but dogs are more prone to this issue, so routine cleaning is a must in order to avoid chronic ear diseases.
Who Needs More Attention?
Cats demand less attention.
By their very nature, felines are independent and prefer to be left to their own devices. It might make them a bit aloof, but a cat that respects your personal space could be just what you need after a long day or when you’re expecting guests.
Another point for felines in the dogs versus cats battle is that kitties can be left alone for longer periods of time. It isn’t unusual for cats to develop separation anxiety when they aren’t with their human for a few days, but more often than not, they’ll act as if nothing has happened – although this can vary depending on the breed.
The same is not true for dogs. Some breeds of canines will start to howl or bark even if they’re left alone for just an hour or so.
Plus, there’s a good chance your pet dog will try to nip at your feet and ankles when it wants attention, not to mention jumping and drooling all over you or your visitors. Dogs have the best intentions—after all, they’re simply showing joy and love, but their constant need for attention can be annoying at times.
And it’s not only attention they need. Dogs require exercise and plenty of it. Taking your pooch for a walk once or twice a day may be fun, but sometimes it can be a chore you simply don’t have the energy to do.
Who Lives Longer, Cats or Dogs?
Another win for felines. Domestic cats usually live 12–19 years, whereas dogs have an average lifespan of 8 years.
There are many factors that determine how long pets live. With dogs, it mostly depends on their size. For instance, a Great Dane can live up to 8 years, while a Miniature Poodle can live for as long as 15 years.
With cats, it varies depending on where they live. Outdoor cats have a much shorter lifespan than domestic felines—they usually live for fewer than 5 years.
Which Is Better to Live with, Cats or Dogs?
When you get a pet, you’re in it for the long run. That means making certain sacrifices and changes in your day-to-day life. But which species is easier and better to live with?
Cats and Dogs: Which Needs Less Space?
Well, seeing as cats are smaller, the obvious answer would be felines. Cats can fit in small apartments, and they don’t need yards to run around in. They’re perfectly content to watch the world while sitting perched on a windowsill, instead of interacting with humans and other animals.
Also, cats are better than dogs when it comes to sharing a bed or a sofa. Even if you have two furry felines, there’s still room for you.
Dogs, especially big dogs, take up a lot of space, and they also need a lot of room. Canines are playful creatures who love walking, running, jumping, and fetching, and for that, they need a big backyard or at least a nearby park. They wouldn’t be happy or healthy cooped up in a tiny apartment with no room to exercise.
Are Cats or Dogs Smarter?
For all the research performed, there’s still no straightforward answer to this question.
A 2017 study published in The Frontiers in Neuroanatomy found that dogs had more cortical neurons in the brain, 530 million, as opposed to 250 million in cats (humans have 16 billion). These neurons, scientists say, are linked to cognitive processes, planning and complex behavior—all considered to be signs of intelligence.
Does this mean that cats aren’t intelligent? And is this a definitive conclusion that dogs are smarter than cats? Probably not, as experts say that it’s not acceptable to use human standards to measure the intelligence of two species very different from us and from each other. It would be like cats or canines comparing the human brain to that of a hamster.
For all it’s worth to cat fanciers, dogs may have more neurons, but felines are better equipped at living alone and can manage more easily without the help of humans than dogs can.
Dogs vs Cats, Who Is Easier to Train?
Even cat lovers will agree that dogs are much easier to train than felines.
Being pack animals, dogs are used to following a leader, which makes obeying commands from the alpha something they’re born with. Also, dogs are so eager to please their owners that they’ll take in all the training and reinforcement commands you teach them. That being said, not all dogs are the same. Some breeds, like German Shepherds or Poodles, are more trainable than others.
One of the best-known facts about dogs is that they can have jobs. Pups can learn how to do more than just sit or roll over. In addition to hunting, retrieving, herding, drug-sniffing, and even fishing, canines are also used as guide dogs for people with disabilities. Some even work for police officers or are employed by the army.
Cats, on the other hand, are their own (and your) boss. It’s not that cats can’t be trained, it’s that they don’t want to be. There are some things a pet cat can learn, like how to respond to its name or even how to walk on a leash, but it takes a lot more work, and even more patience, than it does with dogs.
The approach to training is different too. Dogs can be trained in groups and usually will learn new commands in a short time. Cat training sessions should be shorter, but more regular. Felines have longer memories than dogs, so if you try hard and long enough, you might teach your cat some tricks.
One thing both dogs and cats have in common is their love of treats as a sign of a job well done.
Dogs may respond better to learning basic commands, but when it comes to house training, felines are the winners.
For kitties, using the litter box comes intuitively. Most owners find that it only takes showing them the box once or twice before they start using it on their own. Dogs, however, need more patience and positive reinforcement before learning how to communicate that they need to go potty.
Cats vs Dogs, Which Species Is Cleaner?
Whether it’s down to nutrition, anal gland issues, or wet fur—or even if they were simply born that way—dogs smell, and that’s an undeniable fact. Cats, however, rarely emit unpleasant odors.
Speaking of cleanliness, dogs do their business outside, meaning owners have to scoop up dog poop in all kinds of weather on a regular basis. Litter boxes might be a little disgusting, but they’re definitely easier to handle than a small plastic bag.
Noise Levels: Dogs vs Cats
Canines are more vocal than cats. Not only do they bark, but their bark can be pretty loud and frequent. Kitties purr and meow, but this is considered cute and adorable—and a sign of true love between cat and human.
Having said that, there are some breeds of dogs, like the Newfoundland or Shar-Pei, that are very quiet. Also, some cat breeds—we’re looking at you Siamese—can be quite vocal, and even worse, they tend to initiate conversation with you in the middle of the night.
Cats vs Dogs: Facts on Health Benefits
Science backs up claims that cats can actually improve their owners’ health. Felines are known to reduce stress and thus lower risks of heart disease, allowing you to live a longer, more relaxed life. On top of that, their purring has been proven to heal bones, tendons, and muscles and improve joint mobility after an injury. They can even help you sleep better by being the purr-fect cuddle buddy.
Cats are great for your social life, too. Comparing dogs vs cats, facts indicate that cat people are more socially active and trusting than non-pet owners. What’s more, a staggering 90% of single women said that they found men who own cats to be nicer and more caring than other guys. So if you can’t seem to get a girlfriend, you might consider getting a cat!
Dogs also offer many health benefits. They promote a healthy lifestyle because of their need to be walked and kept active at all times. Having a dog as a pet means regular walks, which not only keep canines happy but are also important for their health. Unlike a gym membership, walking your dog isn’t something you can put off or just cancel. Plus, it’s a great cardio workout.
Dogs love exercise, and they will make you love it too. Whether it’s hiking, cycling, or simply taking a stroll, canines are great companions and motivators for owners of all ages. In fact, a study on cat owners vs dog owners shows that canine parents live longer and healthier lives.
Research also shows that pups can actually save people’s lives by being able to detect certain diseases, such as cancer.
Both cats and canines are great at offering comfort. Many sad or even grief-stricken people say that talking to their pet has made them feel better. Maybe it’s the fact that they don’t judge, or perhaps their cuddly and warm nature provides the perfect therapy. Who knows? The point is it works.
Who wins? Let’s just call this dog vs cat round a tie.
Fluffy or Fido: Who Causes Allergies?
Three in ten Americans suffer from pet allergies, and people are twice as likely to be allergic to cats than dogs. Although some think that hairless cat breeds, like the Sphynx cat, will protect them from allergic reactions, they’re mistaken because it’s not just cat fur that causes a reaction. The allergens can be found in the feline’s skin, saliva, and urine.
There’s research on dogs and cats, however, suggesting that children who are exposed to four-legged, furry friends from an early age are less likely to develop allergies in adulthood.
Which Pets Are More Adaptable, Felines or Canines?
No one likes change, but dogs seem to cope much better in new situations, such as when they’re introduced to new pets or people in the house. This is probably because dogs tend to bond with people more than they do with places. And for that reason, most dog facts show, they don’t mind moving to a new house or even traveling long-distances. As long as they’re with their owners, pups are over the moon. Of course, there are some canines that might display anxiety, but chances are, if you’re cool and collected, your pooch will be too.
Changes in environment don’t go down well with cats. Felines are not as trusting, and they need a lot more time than dogs to adapt to new surroundings.
What About Damage Around the House?
Both a dog and a cat can display destructive behavior. With their sharp claws, felines can cause some serious damage to furniture, or they can knock over expensive vases and ornaments while they’re perching on shelves and bookcases. And there’s little you can do to stop it.
Canines are different. Sure, dogs can chew your shoes or the legs of the kitchen table, but proper training soon takes care of that. Plus, it’s usually puppies who are teething that do most of the chewing around the house. Unlike a cat, a dog responds very well to its owners. As all canine lovers know, a stern voice and an angry look will get the dog to immediately stop what it’s doing. Try this with cats, and you will be completely ignored.
Which Is More Useful to Have in the House?
Cats can keep your home clear of rodents and pests, both through their scent and hunting ability. And that’s about all they can help you with.
Even the smallest dog breeds show a lot of courage when faced with threats. Some will growl to alert you to the presence of intruders, others will outright attack a burglar, but most commonly, thieves will be deterred from entering a house at the sight of a large dog or even just the sound of barking. Since cats typically run and hide at the first sign of danger, in this dogs vs. cats category, the point goes to dogs.
Which Pet Is More Affordable?
This one goes to cats.
Estimates show that the average initial cost of owning a cat is around $365, plus about $809 in recurring expenses throughout each year. On the other hand, a small dog will immediately cost approximately $470, while annual bills are $740. Meanwhile, large dogs will at first cost $560, and you can expect to pay $1,040 a year. Experts advise owners to be prepared to spend much more than these amounts.
So, running the numbers on cats vs dogs indicates that felines are the more affordable pet.
Last, but not least, your pet’s temperament should match your own and your family’s. Otherwise, it will be very hard to get along.
Who’s More Fun-loving?
Cats are undoubtedly funny, especially when they’re up to their usual shenanigans (see cat videos), but there are only so many things you can do with your cat.
Dogs, however, are huge fans of interactive games. Tug-of-war, fetch, tag, playing with other dogs and cats (although cats might see it as something other than fun), canines will jump at the chance to play with all four feet. If you’re someone who wants a pet that will do more than just sit there and cuddle from time to time, dogs are the right fit for you.
Which Species Is More Loyal?
Well, this is an easy one.
Cats may bond with their humans and even miss them when they’re gone, but in terms of loyalty, dogs are the ultimate winners in this dog vs cat debate. Canines will follow their owner anywhere, come running every time they’re called even if they’re sound asleep, and protect their family at all costs. After all, there’s a reason why dogs, and not cats, are “man’s best friend.”
There are some who take issue with this kind of unconditional devotion and prefer pets who show their affection when they want to, rather than when you ask them to. If you’re one of these people, you would be much happier with a feline in your home.
How Are Cats and Dogs Alike?
Dogs may look different—after all, they come in all shapes and sizes (just look at a Yorkie and a Saint Bernard)—whereas cats are more or less the same size (with the exception of the Maine Coon).
Nevertheless, dogs and felines have a lot in common. For one thing, their bodies function pretty much the same: they both have fur, they both eat the same kind of food, and both of them scavenge and hunt for their meal—not that domesticated pets need to.
Other similarities between cats and dogs include their love of humans (some more than others), and the fact that both are territorial animals, often marking certain boundaries to ward off other animals.
What are the benefits of having my cat or dog spayed or neutered?
Spaying or neutering your pets will protect them from developing diseases later in life. It will also stop them from behaving aggressively and running off. Dogs can be fixed after eight weeks of age, while a cat should be at least four months old.
Why do cats and dogs eat grass?
You might see your pets eat some pretty disgusting things, and grass won’t the worst of them. One theory as to why pets eat grass is that they’re trying to get rid of intestinal parasites. Another is that eating grass and various plants will help them vomit. Whatever the reason, it’s more common for dogs to eat grass than it is for cats. Still, even if you only have cats, you should be careful about using fertilizers and pesticides in your garden—or at least try to use non-toxic ones.
Why do cats and dogs fight?
For many kitties and pups, it’s simply because of how they’re hardwired. Dogs will always see cats as prey and chase after them, and cats will always perceive dogs as a threat.
However, the “original” fight started over food. As cats moved into people’s homes, and sort of domesticated themselves, they took over what was formerly canine territory and started arguing over the scraps of food that were given out. Hence the expression, “fighting like cats and dogs.”
Is it possible for cats and dogs to get along with each other?
When it comes to figuring out how to make cats and dogs get along, it’s best to start when they’re small. When they’re younger, cats and dogs go through a socialization period as they learn how to behave. This is the best time to teach them how to coexist without too much trouble.
For puppies, this period lasts for about 12 weeks, while it’s shorter for kittens, at 4–8 weeks. If they are older, it’ll be up to you to teach them how to become friends. When introducing your cat to a new pup, or vice versa, pay close attention to your body language, as your pet dog and cat are super sensitive and can easily pick up on your fear or other emotions.
There are many things that set cats and dogs apart. Dogs wag their tails and cats headbutt you to show affection. Canines want to be with you, cats want to be left alone. Dogs love the outdoors, felines prefer to stay inside. Dogs go with the flow, kitties do their own thing. There’s no easy winner in the cats vs dogs showdown, as owning either comes with its pros and cons. In the end, the best solution might be to just have one of each.