Cat Or Dog – Which Pet Is Right For You?
Pets bring ingredients to your home that nothing else can bring: love, companionship, a furry friend to warm your feet at night, and someone to come home to at the end of the day that is always happy to see you.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s most recent study found that nearly 57 percent of American households have a pet, and of those pets, dogs are the most popular, followed by cats. About 38 percent of households were home to one or more dogs in 2016, and 25 percent had at least one resident feline.
They’re both popular picks for a four-legged companion, but which one is right for you? Picking the right pet for the way you live, particularly if you’re busy, is important so that both you and the animal will be happy.
Let’s take a look at some of the questions to ask yourself when making a decision.
Is A Cat The Perfect Pet For You?
How long are you away from home? Long work days away from home can be hard on a pet, but in general a cat will handle it better than a dog. There are a few reasons for that.
First of all, there’s the need to go outside. While a cat can have free access to a litter box during the day, dogs need to be let out. You can mitigate this problem if you’re able to provide a dog door to a secure outdoor area, use a doggy daycare, or find someone to come by and let the dog out.
All of those require a little more effort and cost than simply leaving a litter box, making the cat the clear winner for convenience.
Second, there’s the issue of loneliness. Cats tend to be more independent than dogs, which means they handle being alone better. Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety especially if they are rescue animals. Recent research indicates that dogs have stronger feelings of love for their humans, which means they’re going to be unhappy being away from you for too long.
Hunger can be another issue. Cats can generally free-feed better than dogs as they aren’t as prone to over-eating. Dogs, on the other hand, are likely to gobble up any food left for them and then become hungry again long before they hear you at the door.
Remember that when left home alone, a bored animal can get into trouble. Cats can cause their share of problems, but bored dogs have a greater tendency to destroy things. They may also bark a lot, disturbing your neighbors.
Can Your Dog Come Along?
A dog can fit into a busy lifestyle better if you let him or her come along – just make sure your four-legged travel buddies are covered by insurance. For example, if you’re watching your kids’ play soccer or baseball outdoors, your pup might be welcome to cheer from the sidelines with you.
You might be surprised at the places that will let your dog join you. In addition to the obvious (pet stores), several stores allow pets to come inside, including surprising ones like Macy’s and The Apple Store.
Many restaurants will also allow your dog to join you for a meal on the patio and may even bring out some water and a treat. Bear in mind that your dog will need to be very well-behaved to be welcome, so a little extra time in obedience school might be a good plan.
If a lot of your off-work time is spent in places where a dog isn’t welcome, you may need to lean towards a cat instead. Doubling up a long day away at work with many evenings out of the house will likely prove to be just too much alone time for a dog.
And remember that it’s never a good idea to leave a dog in a car, even if you don’t think it’s that hot outside. So, if you can’t bring the dog in with you it’s best to leave your pet at home.
How Much Time Do You Have To Meet A Pet’s Needs?
Dogs need exercise, which generally means taking them for regular walks. It’s important to their health, both physical and mental, and it’s great bonding time with you.
While all dogs should get some time on the leash, if you’re too busy to fit in daily walks, you might want to consider a lower energy breed that doesn’t need quite as much exercise. You could also consider adopting an older dog; senior dogs don’t need to burn as much energy as a puppy.
Of course, if part of your busy lifestyle includes a daily morning run, a high energy dog to join you might be a great choice.
In addition to walking a dog, there are regular trips to the groomer to be considered. If you don’t want to worry about grooming, consider a low-maintenance breed like a beagle, whose short coat requires little attention.
If regular walks are simply out of the question for your lifestyle, however, you might be a cat person. Cats don’t need to be walked and can be kept entertained indoors with toys, cat trees, scratching posts, and the company of another cat.
Do You Travel Frequently?
If you travel a lot, a cat might be a better choice. Their independence makes it easier for them to handle being left home (with regular visits from a pet sitter to clean the litter and provide fresh food and water, of course). Or, should you choose to board your cat, the per-day cost is considerably less than for dogs.
Dogs can, of course, be boarded or cared for by a pet sitter. It’s worth remembering what we mentioned above, though, about how much dogs bond with their people. If you’re gone a lot, a dog is going to miss you.
What Do You Want From A Pet?
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself when deciding which pet is best for you is what you want from your new furry friend.
Both cats and dogs provide companionship, but a dog is more social and generally offers a lot more affection than most cats (it’s not a hard and fast rule, and some cats are very affectionate). If you’re looking for a best friend that wants to be by your side all the time, someone to share adventures and exploring the great outdoors, you might be a dog person.
If you want a pet that will curl up next to you on the couch for a good Netflix binge but also be independent when you’re off handling your busy schedule, a cat is probably the way to go.
Remember that your pet needs something from you, too. It’s important to give a lot of thought to what you can provide for a pet before you bring one home. The ASPCA estimates that 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year, and some of those are given up by owners that weren’t able to care for them.
On the flip side of that, there are millions of dogs and cats in those shelters looking for a home. If you’re ready to make room in your life for one of them you will have a loyal friend for life.
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