The question of which is the best pet for a family, a dog or a cat, has been asked many times. Both animals have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it depends upon the makeup of your family and what you are looking for in a pet. I have had both cats and dogs, inside and outside, in the city and in the country, alone and with children. There are times and places for both pets. To help you decide which the best pet is for your family household, we will consider housebreaking, training, their personalities, and how much care and attention each requires.
Cat vs. Dog: Housebreaking
Ease of housebreaking is somewhat dependent on the individual animal. However, for me, housebreaking dogs has been difficult. Our current group of six continues to have problems occasionally. They do not like going outside when it rains. We have had a terrible time determining which dog(s) are the culprits. As long as it is warm and sunny outside, they use the doggy door. They seem not to mind the snow, however. We love them enough we put up with their bad habits.
I have not had the same problem with cats. All my cats have been housebroken, and it has not mattered if they were kittens or adults when I acquired them. Cats instinctively want to bury their messes and if you provide litter box, they will usually use it willingly as long as you keep it clean.
Cat vs. Dog: Training
You have to train a dog. An untrained dog is no fun. This takes time. I have acquired dogs twice at times when my life was extremely busy and I was not able to provide required training. I ultimately had to give both animals up to other homes where they would get the attention they needed.
One major problem I have had with dogs is that want to run and roam. A fenced yard is a necessity in my opinion – an added expense. My cats have been happy staying in the yard around my house.
Another area to consider is the fact that dogs are animals that serve and protect. They instinctively protect your family, an advantage if you live in an area where such protection is important. Service dogs are used by the handicapped, police and fire departments, and in many other areas. This personality trait makes having a dog the best option for many families. At the same time, cats keep your home or property free from snakes, mice, and even spiders – great if you live in the country.
Cat vs. Dog: Personality and Intelligence
One thing many families enjoy is the ability to train a dog to do “tricks.” This makes a dog a particularly enjoyable pet for families with children. In addition, dogs tend to be obedient in order to please their masters. For many families, it is a dog’s respect and obedience that makes them so desirable, as they provide good “role models” for children.
Cats have a tendency to do whatever it is that they want to do with no regard to what you want. They are much more independent and see you as more of an equal (or inferior) than a master. They do enjoy playing with cat appropriate toys, although they will not do so if they do not feel like it.
Overall, cats are independent and communicative; dogs playful and loyal. A dog’s affection and playfulness can be excessive at times and a cat’s aloofness can be irritating. It is purely dependent on preference as to which personality your family will enjoy the most.
When it comes to intelligence, cats have more – a scientifically proven fact. The fact that cats are more intelligent than dogs is measurable through testing. They are better at memory and problem solving. Again, this is somewhat dependent on the individual animal. One of the dumbest dogs I ever owned was a purebred Dalmatian. He was stolen and managed to make his way home from about 45 miles away, swimming a canal to do so. I also had a cat that was so dumb that he tried to catch the moths in the headlights of moving cars. I tried my best to keep him indoors, but a friend inadvertently let him out one night. His end was not pleasant.
Cat vs. Dog: Maintenance and Upkeep
Cats are low maintenance animals. Cats do not need baths, just an occasional brushing for a longhaired variety. Dogs however, should be bathed once or twice a month, depending on breed, where they live, and their habits. If dogs are not bathed, they smell bad. Washing six dogs is a project my husband and I do not enjoy. Moreover, some breeds really need professional grooming, an added expense.
Generally speaking, I have found cats less expensive to care for than dogs. Cat food has been less expensive and my cats have not needed as much vet care as my dogs. Dogs will eat anything, a trait that can prove dangerous. Fussy cats avoid questionable or inedible substances. I have had dogs injured, snake bitten (twice!), and they need a greater variety of shots. In addition, in our area, spaying or neutering a cat is less expensive than a dog.
In conclusion, both dogs and cats have their strengths and weaknesses. Whether a cat or a dog is the best pet for your family depends upon personal preference, as well as the makeup of your family. Dogs are friendly and dependable; cats are affectionate and intelligent. Whichever pet your family chooses, you are sure to have years of enjoyment and create memories that will stay with your family forever.