Should You Get a Cat or Dog? How to Choose the Best Option for You
With people sheltering indoors finally coming to an end, it’s no surprise that pet adoptions have soared the past couple of years. The loneliness brought on by isolation has been effectively combated with the addition of a furry friend to the household, whether it be a cat or a dog. The past few years might have gotten you to consider adopting, too. But if you’ve never been a pet owner, you might be unsure whether a cat or dog is right for you. While cats and dogs have their own unique personalities, there are stereotypes that exist from species to species, breed to breed.
Unsure whether you’re a dog or cat person? It’s best to know early on so you can both foster a great relationship and prepare ahead of time—whether getting your apartment ready for a pet or getting pet ID tags made ahead of time. The following considerations will provide you with some insight.
What’s Your Personality Like?
Cats and dogs might be different from one another, but psychology seems to tell us that cat parents and dog parents differ, too. Research results showed that dog owners tended to be more social people, increasingly extroverted, interactive, agreeable and conscientious; meanwhile, cat parents were found to be more spontaneous, introverted, imaginative and self-contained.
While your personality is something to consider, you’ll have to think more about what your pet’s personality will be like. Dogs require more time and attention than cats do, whether for daily walks or time spent petting, grooming and training. If you’d like a pet that sits by your side throughout the day and will occasionally pester you for petting, a dog might be your best friend. If you’re fine with a pet that appreciates time spent cuddling but is equally okay being left alone, you might be a cat person.
How Is Your Financial Security?
Pets, like children, are a lifetime investment. You’ll need to consider their vet bills, housing costs, weekly groceries, toys and much more. Between the two, dogs tend to cost more than cats.
Why is that? While you’ll be buying toys, leashes and upgraded beds for both your cat and dog, you’ll be spending differently at the vet and grocery store. Veterinary care for dogs tends to cost a bit more and their food intake will be higher than that of a cat.
Where Do You Live?
Your living situation also matters when considering a pet, especially when it comes to the size of a pet. Cats are just about happy (or regularly unhappy) wherever they live, not wholly concerned with the size of your space. At most, they’ll want something to climb on, to lie inside of, something to scratch and windows they can stalk prey from.
But the size of your living space will matter when it comes to dogs. Small breeds are okay in most living spaces and are agreeable even in studio apartments. But medium- and large-sized breeds are a different story. You’ll need ample space to ensure these dogs are comfortable, both so they have large spaces to run around and relax in and so they don’t feel cramped, which can cause anxiety.
It’s best if you live somewhere with an open or fenced-in yard, though, as this will provide your pet with a place to run around. This is essential for dogs, and it makes the process of being let out to use the bathroom that much easier. Your cat will equally love the space, too, as it will provide them with ample room to roam around and look out for other animals.
If you do own a house with a sizable yard, it’s a good idea to get custom-made pet ID tags, just in case your pet happens to run or wander off from your property.
How Do You Feel About Training?
Between the two, dogs are regularly easier to train, although they do require more training than cats. Dogs’ pack tendencies make them reactive to authority figures, so establishing yourself as one early on is a surefire way to keep your dog’s attention, getting them to follow your rules from the start. But it’s all about consistency with dogs—give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
Cats, on the other hand, can be tough to train. While you can teach them basics about using their litter box and getting food and water, other lessons might be difficult to teach. Their stubbornness tends to get the best of them (and eventually, you).
How Active Are You?
Cats can be active creatures, but they’re usually happier when able to wander, relax and sleep in and around your home. A dog might make the best choice for the energetic, athletic type of person—the type who loves spending their time outdoors walking, hiking, gardening, fishing, etc. A well-trained dog will be excited for the adventure, remaining by your side between wandering off to sniff out the trail ahead.
But maybe you end up with an energetic cat who loves going on walks. If so, you should consider getting a set of cat tags for your cat’s collar if you plan on taking them for walks and letting them wander outside during the day.
The Stereotypical Dog and Cat
The Personality and Needs of Dogs:
- Active and energetic, requiring regular walks
- Prefer having outdoor space to run around
- Require training and grooming
- Non-solitary animals—do not do well when left alone for many hours
The Personality and Needs of Cats:
- Usually quiet and prefer being alone for most of the day
- Are content living indoors
- Require grooming but little training
- Do not require daily walks but need frequent interactions
Chances are you’ll need to think about your own mental health, desires and needs before understanding what pet is right for you. It might take some soul searching, but it will be well worth it. There’s no better feeling than introducing your new pet into your family.
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