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How Cats are Different from Dogs

Updated on February 4, 2014

Kittens are made to cuddle

Brother and sister:  Tom and Raisin
Brother and sister: Tom and Raisin | Source

Cats vs Dogs as pets

When asked in casual conversation how cats are different from dogs, a patient on the mentally retarded unit I work on stated, “that’s easy, cats are girls and dogs are boys.”

I’ve had the pleasure of owning both cats and dogs as pets through my child and adulthood, and I can assure you, aside from the obvious, there is a bit more going on than this patient’s simplified version of the differences between these two animals.

Ever hear the saying, “dogs are man’s best friend”? Dogs are trainable in ways that cats are not. How about the saying, “cats are sneaky”? Is this a true fact or an opinion? Do we derive our pleasure more from owning a dog or a cat as a pet?

Reasons why cats are V.I.P.'s: Very Important Pets

They teach responsibility:

In substance abuse circles there is a recommendation that goes something like this: learn to care for yourself before taking care of any other living thing including a plant or an animal. Good advice if you have never learned to do that.

Owning an animal, be it aquatic, small caged rodents, or a larger house pet, such as a dog or cat, is a full time, permanent job. If you neglect taking care of your pet, the animal suffers and problems arise.

Cats can be stealth and cunning; their ancestors knew how to stalk their prey. Jack, my sister’s cat, was a mighty hunter. He was a large, black and white tomcat, which would stalk and bring home birds. On more than one occasion his prey would be stunned, only to take flight in the house.

Still, if your feline is not a stray than there exists the tasks of feeding and cleaning up after it. Keeping it healthy via regular exams, vaccinations, and neutering is also part of the owner’s job.

Cats like to be very clean. Think of ‘preening’ when you think of this furry creature. Keeping the litter box clean is a must. If not…well, the house is fair game. But, did you know that cats can also use the toilet to urinate?

I was amazed when one of our cats, a beautiful tortoise shell with green eyes, used the toilet one afternoon for the first time. I was in my bedroom and heard ‘someone’ going to the bathroom. Knowing I was in the house alone I crept quietly to the door of the bathroom and saw Callie perched on the edge of the seat, tail lifted high in the air.

Now, I knew she was a smart girl, and I also recall the many times she would come into the bathroom while I was using it, looking for attention, but I didn’t realize she was putting two and two together for the association between the smell and the action. As I stood in awe and incredibility, she turned to look at me with disdain as if to say, “Do you mind? I would like some privacy!”

The family did not believe me until she had used the toilet so many times that it became a common occurrence. How I wish I had taken a video of that!

They bring humor to the household

Ever watch a cat at play? They roll, tumble and jump in ways that dogs do not. They hide and pounce, (it’s the nature of their beast), but often when least expected, startling the most preoccupied resident!

For a few good laughs put a large grocery bag on the floor and when the curious feline crawls into it rattle the end of it. Or, place your fist under a blanket and move it around and watch it stalk, attack, and recoil.

If you have a laser light, that is the best entertainment yet. Merely flash it in front of the cat to get its attention and then shut it off. You’ll have the cat chasing after the elusive light for hours, while you laugh your pants off.

Our Black Cat

This is our new kitten:  Taz short for Tazmanian Devil
This is our new kitten: Taz short for Tazmanian Devil | Source

They make good companions

I know many men who say they do not like cats because they don’t trust them. Sounds like a personal thing to me. Cats are like any animal, except they play in the dark; they jump out at you; and they have a history of being feared. Just look at some of the myths we have that involve cats.

1. Don’t let a cat near a sleeping baby or it will suck the breath out of it. Actually, my mother explained that she thought it was because cats love milk and want to get close to a baby to lick the dribbles off his mouth or bottle and, that cats can curl up close to the baby and suffocate it unintentionally.

2. Don’t let a black cat cross your path or you will have bad luck. This actually will bring the pedestrian good luck according to British and Japanese beliefs.

3. If a cat sits at the end of the bed of someone ill they will die.

4. Although black cats are frequently associated with witchcraft, fisherman’s wives believed that keeping a black cat would mean their husbands would always return from the sea.

Again, the origins of these beliefs come from ancient times when life was not scientifically understood the way it is now. Cats make wonderful companions for children of all ages, the elderly, and anyone in between. As for sleeping on the bed, my daughter Cara recently added a kitten to their household. Like many a smart animal, Charlie Raisin has attached himself to her. Not only does he sleep in her room but he cuddles around her neck like a scarf!


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Audrey-thanks for sharing your experience with me. It's tough having an animal fur allergy. Enjoy the bow-wow.

      Stephanie-I'm glad you got a laugh about the laser beam...definitely entertaining! lol Thanks for your comment.

      Hi Nell-I so wish we had a video camera back then, we could have sent it in to America's funniest videos and probably won! Thanks for your comments. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      I would love to have seen the cat on the toilet! lol! how funny! I love cats, they are so darn funny! we have had so many years of laughter out of how stupid the cats can be sometimes, dogs are cool, cats are hilarious! great hub Denise!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      6 years ago from New Jersey

      I love all types of animals, but cats are my pet of choice over dogs. I was laughing when I saw laser pens as a cat's best friend. It entertains them for soooo long.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      I love cats--but my husband is very allergic--so we now enjoy a dog as a pet--very different indeed!

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 

      8 years ago from Missouri

      I have a black cat named Max. I don't think he is bad luck as a matter of fact he made a dark day in my life a good day when he crossed my path, which is why I kept him.

      He is the second cat in my life to use the toilet and actually prefers to.

      Cats are superior to most dogs in my opinion. Men say dogs are better because they clean dishes, eat anything and will stay with you til they die if you're lost. In my opinion those things are opposite of smart. Don't get me wrong, I love my dog, but she has never used the toilet.

      Cute article. Thanks for sharing!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Danette-didn't realize you preferred cats. Oh, the thought of getting scratched and clawed by a cat at any time is not a pleasant one, LOL Thanks for reading. I'm on my way out...

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Well, I'm partial to cats (love having a dog around for the protection, though). The Jack we have now (Quincy named it for the other Jack) is also quite a hunter. And I remember your cat using the toilet - always thought that was pretty funny and had never heard of a cat doing that before.

      My cat used to want to come in the bathroom while I was showering and walk on the edge of the tub (he's fascinated by moving water). But after he did that a time or two, I stopped letting him in with me. I could just imagine what would happen if he fell off while the water was running and what/who he'd try to climb in his panic. The thought of getting scratched and clawed by a panicky cat while naked was not pleasant!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Debbie-that is funny! I loved your recount of the neighbor's cat! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 

      8 years ago from Greece

      What a clever cat you had!! My husband isn't keen on cats as he thinks they are sneaky, we couldn't keep them anyway as I'm react terribly to them. we have three dogs and the cats around here take pride in winding them up. I found one eating leisurely from the dogs bowl recently, luckily the dogs hadn't made it out of the door before I saw it. I'm sure it winked at me before casually slinking off!!

      An interesting hub and thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Melvoy-it was my first experience with a 'trained' cat and we figured she must be smart enough and observant when she wandered into the bathroom to follow suit! Too bad about the presents...ouch!

      Hi teachertalking1-I know what you mean. When we lost our beloved Bandit, it was very difficult to agree to another dog. Now, I have 'Beauty' who has been my nephew's dog for five yrs or so. She's a good companion that I've grown used to.

    • teachertalking1 profile image


      8 years ago

      After loosing our beagle of 16 years, I was so grateful for the quiet love of my two cats! It's been almost two years since our beloved Charlie died, and I just can't seem to find it in me to make it to the shelter. Although I miss having a dog in the house terribly, I'm a bit afraid to commit to a dog again. My cats are self-sufficient, are fine with being left alone, and walk themselves! Thanks for sharing!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      8 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed this. And was amazed that your cat uses the toilet. I wish ours would - one of them goes almost everywhere but the litter box. She was not the most popular creature in our house when she went under the Christmas tree, and over presents!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Just a regular guy-thank you for reading this hub and for sharing your experiences of the difference between cats and dogs. I'm sure you'll find some people who will agree with your opinion and others who won't. It all depends on their individual experiences. I've had both cats and dogs and there are truths to what you write here. Thanks for your comments.

    • profile image

      Just a regular guy 

      8 years ago

      When I was young we were dog-less in our household and due to a few bad experiances with other peoples dogs I was left with a deep rooted fear of them. Later we adopted a cat who was lovely and then another cat who was simply wonderful. Later my mother got a dog and he was a lovely dog, he cured me of my fear of them. But give me a choice now and I'll take a cat, please. Dogs are so much hard work they're like a needy child that needs constant attention and reassurance. I like cats' independence. And unlike dogs, boy are they clean. People say cats only love you for what you can give them but I've found that not to be true, I've had at least as much love and affection from my cats as from a dog. Of course, they do it different ways, dogs are in your face, clumsy, energetic, demonstrative, noisy, cats are quiet, serene, elegant, harmonious and enormously refined. Dogs are a centre of chaos, cats are the centre of order.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi grandmapearl-thanks for sharing your experience here. Lucky you to have had such a grateful cat, LOL. Thanks for the vote up. :)

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      8 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      One winter I fed a beautiful calico feral cat. That spring she brought me 3 of the most adorable and skittish kittens I have ever seen. I had just lost my beloved Grady cat and thought to myself, 'Oh man, this is all I need.' Since then (that was 8 years ago) they have become 'my children'. When we walk in the woods, I call it my 'cat-a-van'. They follow me, climb trees and run as fast as they can. I love all animals, including dogs. But I have to say that cats have my heart! Thanks for this Hub and for the Fan Mail! Voted Up and Awesome

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ktrapp-nice to meet you. Yes, the two animals are very different in their needs. It's always a big to-do when we leave for a w/e and have to arrange for care for the dog.

      I grew up with beagles. They are sweet and loving dogs.

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      I had a cat for 19 years and now a dog for 1 year. The two animals can hardly be compared to each other. But this I know for sure, cats are a million times easier to care for than a dog. I never had to take my cat for walks, or outside to go to the bathroom. And I didn't fret when I left my cat alone for hours on end. I absolutely love my beagle, Ruby, and although she is a lot of work, her sweetness and cuddliness make up for it. But deep down, I am still a cat person at heart.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I'm sorry that there's been a long delay in my response-I was in retreat and had no computer access.

      Hi Stephanie-that's a funny comment you made regarding your mom's distinction. LOL Thanks for your comments.

      Hi wordscribe43-thanks for sharing your experience about cats and dogs. Funny info. I'm glad to know that Tucker has met the family stamp of approval...or, at least passed your test!

      writer20, I'm sorry you can't enjoy those furry critters. Thanks for commenting.

      Susannah-Dogs it is then, for you! LOL Thanks for reading.

      Thanks Genna-nice to hear what you had to say. Thanks for the votes.

      Hi Cindy-thanks for sharing your thoughts about cats. They sure do have their own personalities! I will try to get over to reading some of your cat hubs. :)

      Carol-thanks for giving your thoughts about cats and dogs. I appreciate your vote. :)

      Hello phillippeengel-nice to see you. :) Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

    • phillippeengel profile image

      Deng Xiang 

      8 years ago

      Very provocative, Denise. A rare hub that delves into the quirks of cats and dogs.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Denise, Cats are cute and diffinitely less work than dogs. They play differently too, but I love them both. Nice hub Denise. Voted interesting.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I love cats. And I find them truly amusing and funny. But they are also warm, loving and cuddly. And they each have their own little personality and quirks. I have too funny hubs I have written about cats recently so you have picked a subject that is very close to my heart.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I truly enjoyed this hub, Denise. I own both a cat and a dog, and there are remarkable differences. Thanks for dispelling so many of the myths about cats that we still hear about today.

      I often hear, “dogs are there for you; you are there for cats.” My cat is just as affectionate and attentive as our dog, so I don't know if I can agree with this statement. They are certainly not the same personalities, and you cannot train a cat the same way you do a dog; it’s just not going to happen. Still, they do know certain commands do’s and don'ts, etc.

      Up and interesting!

    • susannah42 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I will stick with dogs.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      8 years ago from Southern Nevada

      I love cats and dogs but can't have them do because of too much sneezing.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      I have always been more of a cat person until very recently. We got the world's best dog, Tucker and he has succeeded at evening the cat-dog score for me. I have a cat right now who really acts like a dog. She is trainable, comes when called, hangs out with the dogs and eats anything. In fact, this silly cat even likes coffee.

      Anyway, great hub. I've always believed that people who don't like cats either haven't had one or haven't had a super cool one. No doubt, as you say, they provide hours of entertainment.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      I love both cats and dogs, but down deep, I'm really a cat person. Love the story of your cat who toilet trained himself! I've never had a cat do that, though I've heard that you can train a cat to use the toilet and even do away with the litter box. I laughed when you told the story of your resident who thought cats were girls and dogs were boys because my mother always referred to cats as "she" and dogs as "he". Funny!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Good morning Carmen, it is an interesting eval of cats isn't it. It was part of my inspiration for writing the hub...that and my grandkids new kitten, but I couldn't get the photo I wanted of Charlie Raisin. Thanks for sharing.

      Hi Frank, LOL I loved your comment. Yep, and don't make them meow like a girl either! LOL Thanks.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      8 years ago from Shelton

      What a wonderful share.. I love cats.. and in my neighborhood.. if you call a cat a girl he'll be all over you like ugly on an ape.. they are so easy to take care of.. and they become more than pets.. buddies..

      anyways enough I love the share

    • Carmen H profile image

      Carmen Beth 

      8 years ago

      Interesting evaluation of cats. I'm sharing this hub : )


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