It’s an age-old feud: dogs versus cats. And any pet owner will tell you that their own pets are the best kind of pet, better than any other. But with 38.4% of American households owning dogs and 25.4% owning cats, that would be a lot of doors to knock on and loads of conversations to have. So maybe a better way to determine what’s best for you is to take a look at the differences between the two pets, so you know whether to shop for dog grooming products or cat grooming products in your effort to prepare for your new family member.

Your Living Space

When making the pet decision, the first thing to consider is what kind of home you have. If you live in a small apartment, have no yard, and aren’t around a ton during the day, adopting a puppy might not be your best choice unless you work from home and can get out for multiple walks each day. Some breeds need lots of space to run around to burn excess energy. When not given a chance, it can lead to destructive behavior. Many puppies can also be incredibly nippy, which is a lot less adorable in a teeny tiny apartment than it is in a house with more square footage.

Cats are much easier to accommodate in small living spaces. They don’t need daily walks or plenty of space to roam, but they require a litter box. This again comes down to personal preference. Many people are put off by the smell of used kitty litter, but others find it much less offensive than poop or pee in the house because it’s contained. So even when compared to toy breeds that can toilet on pee pads, some will choose the kitty litter option. 

Time Commitment

Puppies and kittens both require your time and love. Generally, cats are more independent animals than dogs, so if you work long hours or are out of the house a lot, you might find it easier to commit to a cat. Cats can be left alone all day and will likely spend most of the time sleeping. They don’t demand daily walks like some dogs and won’t get into trouble (much) if they’re left on their own for an extended period.

Dogs need more attention and more time to play. They’re pack animals, meaning they need to feel like they belong to a group with you as the leader. Because of this, dogs are happiest when you can spend most of your free time with them. Many breeds also require daily walks to get some exercise and fulfill their innate desire to explore new territory. These activities can be great if you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy spending time outdoors. Cats are the more low-maintenance pet, but that doesn’t mean you can leave them alone for days at a time. Giving your cat attention every day not only helps them to feel connected to you, but it also provides some mental stimulation and reduces stress.

Food and Feedings

Keep in mind that cats and dogs have very different nutritional requirements. While both animals require high-quality food to maintain good health, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat to survive. On the other hand, dogs can make do with plant-based products like vegetables and grains, although they won’t thrive without some animal protein. Cats also need a higher protein-to-fat ratio, while dogs can get away with more carbohydrates. Both cats and dogs may also require specific supplements in their food to keep them healthy, especially as they mature through various life stages.

Beautiful little kitten licking milk from a bowl placed on the living room floor next to a window
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Source: Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com

Feeding styles can definitely vary between individual animals. Still, generally speaking, kittens and puppies should both be fed three times a day while small. This can be tapered to twice a day as they grow older. Cats generally do better with free-feeding, so it’s essential to keep that in mind while looking into the future.

Grooming

Like their nutritional needs, cats and dogs have very different grooming requirements. Cats groom themselves naturally with licking, so you won’t need to spend time regularly brushing them out or giving them baths. On the other hand, many breeds of dogs need regular (daily or weekly) brushing to avoid mats and tangles in their fur. They also require occasional haircuts for specific breeds that have longer coats. Bathing dogs frequently can dry out their skin, but they will need a dip now and again, especially if they go on walks or get into things they shouldn’t — like mud puddles.

Health and Lifespan

Although there are always exceptions to the rule, cats generally live longer than dogs. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is between 12 and 16 years. Dogs typically live around 10 to 13 years or more — though, especially with dogs, the age at which they reach their max potential varies by breed. For example, Great Danes have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years old. In contrast, smaller breeds such as Shih Tzus reach their maximum age from 10 to 16 years.

black old great dane dog lying down on the grass
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Source: otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

Dogs can feel more high-maintenance than cats in terms of grooming and checking for health problems, but, because of this, they’re also easier to keep healthy. On the other hand, cats can be less obvious when they’re not feeling well, making it harder to detect a problem. 

Allergies

A significant consideration for many folks when getting a pet is allergies. And, no, we’re not talking about the dog having allergies. That can be solved with products designed to provide allergy relief for dogs and a vet visit or two. What we mean here are the people who are allergic to their animals. What causes allergies to dogs and cats? Mainly it’s down to the amount of dander they produce, which is a fancy word for skin flakes and dried protein, which all act as allergens. When dogs and cats shed their skin or, in other words, when their hair falls out, it releases that dander into the air. If you have allergies to that sort of thing, a pet can exacerbate them.

While there are no genuinely hypoallergenic cats or dogs, there are some breeds of both that people with mild to moderate allergies do better with. In general, folks will be more successful living with “hypoallergenic” dogs than cats. But that might also be because cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. Breeds to be on the lookout for are ones with hair, not fur, such as poodles, schnauzers, and Chinese cresteds. 

Final Verdict

How could we ever say one is better than the other? The truth is, it really depends on your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a pet. And if you want to try your hand at one of each, we wholeheartedly support this life decision just as long as your bank account can. Good luck!