How Owning Cats Differs from Owning Dogs

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Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 16 December 2014

Cats and dogs - two of the most popular pets on the planet! But, have you ever noticed how some people seem set on dogs, whereas others are cat people through and through? We all know a few crazy cat people in our lives!

If you’re in the market for a pet and don’t know which suits your lifestyle better, it’s important to look at the differences between the animals. We've chosen some of the key traits (temperament, training, living arrangements etc.) and compared the two animals, to help you decide which animal will be more suited to your household and lifestyle.

english bulldog and small kitten

Dogs and Cats: Temperament

Let’s start off with the aspect that seems to divide cat and dog owners the most -  temperament. Dog owners will say that their loyal canines are very affectionate and happy all the time, whereas cats treat you as their slave! Cat owners will tell you that their furry friends love to scratch and cuddle, whereas dogs are annoying and demand your attention constantly. So, what’s the real verdict?

Both animals, if their owners handle, scratch and play with them regularly, will show affection towards humans, and yes - dogs are more energetic creatures than cats.

Cats The reason cats are considered to have a ‘colder’ temperament is because they are a more independent animal that likes to do their own thing from time to time, and generally don’t show any ‘protective’ tendencies towards their owners. However, they definitely are affectionate creatures that love to play with humans.

Undesexed cats also have a natural instinct to ‘hunt’ - hence why cat owners sometimes find a nice ‘present’ from their feline friends on the front doorstep.

Dogs Dogs are creatures that will show affection if they’re frequently nurtured and played with by their owners - it also depends on the breed. The temperaments can range from a small, gentle lapdog to an aggressive Pitbull - it really depends on the type of dog. In addition, dogs as an animal tend to be more protective over their owners, hence the belief that they ‘care’ more than cats do!

Dogs and Cats: Grooming

Dogs and cats have different grooming requirements - some won’t shed hair, others will need daily brushes. Also, some animals are fine to keep their own fur clean, others will need a good bath every so often!

Cats Feline animals are very self sufficient when it comes to grooming. They pretty much lick themselves clean, and you don’t really need to give them a bath! If you’ve got a short-haired breed, then you won’t need to brush them. However, cat breeds that have longer hair such as the Ragdoll will need a daily brush, so their hair doesn’t become matted and stays silky and soft.

Dogs Short haired dogs will need a brush every couple of days. Longer haired breeds will need daily brushing. In addition, dogs tend to get themselves dirty from playing in the backyard, so will definitely need a bath! Nail clipping may also required for dogs with cumbersome talons.

Dogs and Cats: Living Arrangements

When it comes to living arrangements, dogs and cats definitely have different needs. Cats are known to be more adaptable to smaller environments, whereas dogs (especially large breeds) will need a large area to run around in.

Cats Most people like to keep their cat indoors for safety and security reasons, so they won't wander away. This works because the majority of cat breeds are happy adapting to small living environments such as apartments, and will make the best of their space.

As for sleeping, you can buy your kitty a cat bed to sleep in, otherwise they’ll probably just snooze in whatever nook they can find (or your bed!)

Dogs Some very small dog breeds are fine to live in apartments, but most dogs  will require a larger living space and/or a backyard to run around in. Also, you can get your dog a little bed to sleep in, otherwise they'll just go for the comfiest spot on the floor.

Dogs and Cats: Exercise

How much exercise your pet needs is important to the animal's well being, and yours. You don’t want to keep an animal that needs lots of playtime and walking when you’re not home most of the day! Cats and dogs do differ in their exercise quota, so make sure you keep this in mind when you choose your new pet.

Cats When it comes to exercise, cats are pretty low maintenance. Give them some toys and an outdoor enclosure to play in, and they’ll get the exercise they need. Other times, they’ll be sleeping! You don’t need to take your cats for a walk, unless you really want to show off your new feline friend.

Dogs Dogs are energetic creatures, and will generally need at least one vigorous 30-60min walk daily to stay fit and healthy. How long the walk is really depends on the breed and size - a small dog will run out of puff faster than a long one! You can always head to an off-leash area for some fetch, which will help your canine’s cardio quota!

Dogs and Cats: Training

Both animals do need some degree of training so they adapt well into domesticated life. There are differences between the level of training required, and how responsive the animals are. Cats are fairly easygoing creatures and don’t have many behaviours that need to be ‘trained out’, however dogs are more energetic and will need a bit of work to train (there's always puppy pre-school!)

Cats The most important thing you’ll want to teach your cat is how to use the kitty litter. The reality is, with a little coaxing, cats will learn how to use kitty litter very quickly - so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty forming this habit.

Teaching your cat to do anything else is quite an effort - it’ll take a few weeks to train your cats to do tricks or behave to commands, and they aren’t very responsive to words. Cats like to do as they please!

Dogs Dogs are far more responsive to voice commands, and you can teach these animals to do lots of different things! The main behaviours you’ll need to train is toilet training and restraint from barking. This is easily done by scolding, rewarding for good behaviour and not rewarding for bad behaviour. Dogs will get the picture pretty quickly what they can and can’t do.

Depending on the dog, you may have to also curb behaviours like jumping up on guests, scratching furniture and being a bit too boisterous.

Dogs and cats do have different characteristics, which makes them more suited to certain lifestyles. Apartment dwellers tend to opt for cats, whereas if you've got more room and a backyard, a dog may suit your lifestyle. Both pets are a joy to own, and both can be kept in the same household as backyard chickens!

If you think a feline friend is more your style We sell safe, secure cat enclosures purrfect for your feline to catch some sun and get some exercise.

Sources and further reading