In her latest column, pet trainer for LeChic Pet and North Bend resident, Melissa Grant, helps would-be pet owners compare the differences between being a dog or a cat parent – in an effort to help you decide what is best for your lifestyle. There’s lots to consider!
I’ll admit it right now, until seven years ago I was not a cat person. My mother has a pretty significant fear of cats and after one attempt at cat parenthood, our family was firmly entrenched in the “Dog People” side of the age-old Dog vs. Cat schism. I went on to live with a roommate who had two cats and while I got used to them, they were feral and not terribly friendly. It wasn’t until I met a man who was a cat person, did I learn to love cats and dogs equally.
Along the way I learned there are some pretty significant differences between pet cats and pet dogs. So if you are thinking of becoming a first time pet parent to a cat or dog for, here are some things you should know about inviting an unfamiliar creature into your home.
The first thing you should consider when making the species switch is expense. Cats don’t cost as much as dogs do. This can be quite a shock to someone who has never owned a dog before. Dogs typically go to the vet more often than cats – and when they’re there they tend to cost more. Coated dogs need frequent trips to the groomer to have their coats maintained – up to every six weeks! Conversely, if you’ve always owned a Lab and suddenly decide to adopt a cute Persian that first lion shave cost will be quite a shock. Boarding a dog or hiring an in-home pet sitter or dog walker can be significant expenses, too.
Both types of animals have significant equipment costs. Cats need litter boxes, scratching posts, beds, brushes, toys combs and food. However, dogs also have significant expenses. Along with all the things cats need, they also need more food, leashes, collars and training. You can invite a cat into your home and live with it pretty easily, but usually you need to train a dog to comfortably share your home.
Next, consider how much time and attention you have to give to this animal. Even the neediest cat ever can stay home all day unattended while you work. You can fly by the seat of your pants with a cat – throw down some food and go for a romantic weekend at the spur of the moment! Not true with a dog. Even the shortest outing needs to be planned in advance so Fido can get those all-important potty breaks in during the day. A cat won’t be sad if you leave them for a night. Fido will. On the flip side, if you’ve always owned a dog and loved the “coming home happy dance,” chances are you’ll be disappointed by the aloof “oh it’s you again” glance you get from a cat. Some cats won’t even notice you’re gone until their food bowl is empty.
Also, under the category of attention are the differences in exercise requirements. You can pretty much entertain your cat from the comfort of your couch. Get a feathery bird on a stick and your cat will go nuts chasing it. You have to venture out into all sorts of weather with a dog. Rain or shine dogs need to get lots of exercise to amp down their energy level.
However, both types of critters need stimulation to keep them from being destructive. Even though cats are much smaller packages, they can do just as much damage to your home when bored – like destroying furniture, clothing and carpets. They won’t chew through your drywall on a whim, but if you’ve ever experienced a spraying male cat, well, you’ll know that isn’t so easy to fix.
Just the basic physical presence displayed by these two animals is shockingly different. Dogs bark and make a lot more noise than cats. In spite of that, cats can come in and ninja attack you in the middle of the night in a way Rover does not. My first night in a household with three cats was sleepless because of the constant cat cleaning sessions in bed next to me.
Lastly, remember that the life span of these two species can be quite different. If you are used to having a dog with you for an average of 12-15 years, remember cats generally live longer and can be with you beyond twenty years. It’s good to look ahead into your future and try to figure out what your life will be like in the next 15 to 20 years before deciding which critter to adopt.
With all this said, I still would recommend people become “cat AND dog people.” Both creatures can add so much joy to your life. So if you’ve always had cats, give a dog a try – or vice versa. There are many animals in your local shelter and you can save a life!