Cats and Dogs - Which Pet Fits Your Lifestyle?
"Cat people" are sometimes at odds with "dog people". Many cat people are fiercely devoted to their feline friends, and likewise many dog people are convinced that dogs are the ultimate pet. Which one is best? There really isn't a right answer... but your lifestyle might dictate which pet may fit better into your life.
Dogs as Pets
People unfamiliar with dogs sometimes brand all dogs as slobbering, enthusiastic, and not-that-bright. While some dogs are exactly that (but we love them anyways), there really is a reason why dog people are so devoted to their canine pals. A dog's happy welcome, whether you've been gone 5 minutes or 3 weeks, is a real joy to come home to... and their willingness to do things with you is a lot of fun.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind if you're thinking of getting a dog. Keep in mind that there are generalizations and of course, there are sometimes exceptions.
- Dogs can be a lot of work - and work = time. Occasionally some people will litter-train their dogs, but for the most part, dogs need to be let out for bathroom breaks, ideally they would be exercised regularly, and puppies need to be housetrained.
- Dogs need companionship. Too often, there are stories in the news about dogs that have been tied up outside their whole lives, or relegated to a garage or basement with no human interaction. Dogs are social animals and they need to be a part of the family.
- Training and socialization are a must. When walking a dog, you tend to meet up with other people and pets. For safety reasons (and for the sake of your sanity), dogs should be well-socialized to be friendly or at least accepting of others. This is especially important when bringing a dog to leash-free dog parks where there are large numbers of both pets and their owners interacting freely.
- Dogs can be easier to travel with. For families that like to travel, they'll find that there are many pet-friendly accommodations that will allow them to bring their dogs. Mind you, many places only allow small dogs.
- Are you a renter? People with pets can attest to how hard it is to find reasonable pet-friendly housing. Many landlords refuse all pets. Of those that allow pets, they may be more inclined to allow a cat since cats are often perceived to be quieter and cleaner than dogs, who may bark and disturb other tenants or neighbours. Again, small dogs are typically more accepted than larger dogs.
Cats as Pets
Dog people often view cats as aloof, indifferent, "snobby". Cat people see cats as intelligent, loving, incredible little creatures. Many cats will run to greet you when you come home, and it's a wonderful feeling to have a purring mini-feline sitting on your lap. If you're thinking of adopting a cat, consider these things:
- Cats are usually less demanding on your time. Many cats are perfectly happy to snooze most of their days away, with breaks for eating, pats, a bit of play, and looking out the window. Litter-training a cat is pretty basic and generally fairly quick (unless the cat has an underlying medical problem that makes her refuse to use her litter box).
- Renting a home? Landlords that allow pets commonly prefer small pets such as cats.
- Traveling with a cat isn't popular. Most people who travel with pets bring their dogs. Many pet-friendly hotels that allow dogs do not necessarily allow cats (or other pets). That means you may have to board your cat or hire a pet-sitter.
- Cats can get into a lot of things that dogs cannot. Anyone who's tried to train a cat will tell you that it's more difficult than training a dog. Cats have incredible physical abilities, and can easily jump up onto places that you don't want them. You may not need to train a cat to do the stuff dogs do ("sit", "stay", "come", etc), but you will need to train them to stay off inappropriate surfaces (like the stovetop!) and also teach them not to shred inappropriate items (like the couch).
There is an ongoing debate whether cats should be strictly indoor cats, or whether they should be allowed to wander outdoors. I suggest that cats be indoors-only as it keeps them safe from dangers such as cars, predation (wildlife, other pets, humans), poisons, and exposure.
Whatever Type of Pet You Choose...
Whether you adopt a dog or a cat (or both!), pet ownership is a big responsibility. It's a lifetime responsibility to give a pet a secure and loving home. That includes spay/neuter surgery, regular vet care, emergency vet care when needed, appropriate grooming, nutritious food, mental stimulation, regular exercise, and lots of love.
Can dogs and cats live together harmoniously? You bet! Our own household has a mixture of dogs and cats. Both of our cats enjoy grooming one of the dogs (who doesn't particularly enjoy it, but who tolerates it). It's a happy household, and we know many other households as well where cats and dogs live together peacefully.
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