The cats vs dogs debate is as old as time. People who own furry felines can spend hours telling you why cats are superior to dogs. But it’s impossible to convince a dog owner that’s true. 

Dogs and cats have a much more amicable relationship. According to popular beliefs, the two animals can get on quite well together despite their many, many differences. But how will this affect your decision to get a feline or canine companion? 

In this guide, we’ll help you determine whether the fluffy feline, or the loyal canine is the right choice for you.

Key Findings

  • Cats are more popular than dogs in more than 91 countries, and dogs are more popular in 76 countries.
  • High-rise living might not be ideal for most pets, as outdoor access can be difficult
  • There were 63.4 million dog-owning households and 42.7 million cat-owning households in the U.S. in 2020
  • Dogs have more cortical neurons in the brain, 530 million, as opposed to 250 million in cats 
  • A medium-size dog should eat around 1 cup (8 ounces) of food, while felines eat just under 1 cup (6 ounces) a day 
  • Dog owners in the U.S. claimed to spend around 442 U.S. dollars on pet food annually in 2020
  • Cat owners in the U.S. claimed to spend around 329 U.S. dollars on pet food annually in 2020
  • U.S. pet owners reported spending around $122 on dogs, and $26 on cats for grooming per year
  • The average life expectancy of cats is around 12 to 14 years, while the life expectancy of dogs is usually 7 to 14 years 
  • Average adoption fees for cats are about $32 – $270. For dogs, fees are around $115 – $660

Who Is Smarter, Cat, or Dog?

Albert Einstein famously said that “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

In 2017, Vanderbilt University reported that dogs have more cortical neurons in their brains. Their research found that canines have about 530 million neurons, while cats only have 250 million. Interestingly, the same study also reported that raccoons share the same number of neurons as dogs in a cat-sized brain.

On the other hand, a Scientific American study made comprehensive comparisons between cats and dogs, among other animals, and found that although dogs are unique, they don’t possess any advantage over other species in associative learning, physical cognition, and spatial tasks. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell but so do other animals, like cats and horses.

In short, both findings ended up inconclusive. Scientists have warned people about applying human intelligence standards to animals. For example, when it comes to hunting abilities, cats are the best, while dogs have a middling ability, despite their higher number of neurons. Meanwhile, humans, who have about 100 billion neurons, have low hunting abilities.

So it doesn’t matter how many neurons you have; what matters is how you use them — or something like that.

Is It More Expensive to Have a Cat or a Dog?

Between adoption fees, food, training, toys, vet bills, insurance, and daycare, dogs tend to be significantly more expensive than cats. 

That said, cats are independent creatures, so you can rely on them to care for themselves. They mostly require human intervention when it’s mealtime.

According to the Animal Humane Society, the adoption fees for felines are generally lower than for dogs and can be anywhere between $34–$276. For canines, the starting adoption cost starts at $118 and can go up to a whopping $667. 

Besides, dogs tend to destroy their toys, which are already made from rigid materials, hence are more expensive than cat toys. If you’re a dog owner, look for indestructible dog toys that will last longer. 

In contrast, This makes owning a cat vs a dog much cheaper as it doesn’t take much to amuse a kitten. You can create your DIY toys at home and forego buying toys for your cat altogether. They only want a box anyway. 

Dogs require a lot of exercise, so you’ll need to set aside time from your busy schedule for daily walks. Otherwise, you can hire a dog walker that can charge $15 to $20 for a single walk. At the same time, cats can use up their energy running up and down and sideways. If you own two of them, it’s even easier as they find ways to entertain each other.

One of the most important things when owning a cat or a dog is the food. If you want them to have a healthy and quality nutrition, you will have to get them the best food you can afford. And it’s a lot pricier to feed a 75-pound German shepherd than it is to fatten a 7-pound cat. Besides, there are the routine vet costs, including annual checkups, preventive care, grooming and maintenance, dental care, and desexing. You should also consider pet insurance as a way to reduce the financial burden of injuries and accidents. On average, cats also tend to have fewer veterinary visits.

dog and cat playing in the yard

Are Dogs or Cats More Loving?

By nature, dogs are very social, and you can thank their wolf ancestors for that. When mammals love someone, they release the hormone oxytocin — and dogs do this in spades. The most tell-tale sign of a dog with a rising oxytocin level is that frantic tail-wagging whenever its owner arrives home. Also, people think dogs are more loving pets because it appears they’re smiling when in reality, they’re just panting.

But cats can show their love, too, and are as expressive as dogs. They just show their affection differently. It doesn’t help that they have particularly expressionless faces compared to dogs.

No matter if you have cats or dogs, both can provide you with all the love you need. Science has proven that cats can develop inseparable bonds with their owners in time. They can recognize their pet parent’s voice and prick their ears in that direction when they hear it. Their pupils also dilate in excitement. Cats also purr, butt, and rub their heads against their owner when they’re feeling incredibly affectionate.

Which Pet Is More Allergenic?

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, cat allergies in people are two times more common than dog allergies. This is a big number for people who suffer from allergies, and might influence them when deciding about having cats vs dogs as pets.

The allergens that come from felines, are not linked with their fur, but actually a protein called Fel d 1 found on cat skin. This protein has just the right shape and size that makes it airborne for much longer than dog allergens. It’s also really sticky and can last for a long time on any surface.

For people that do suffer from allergies, the recommended thing to do is to just avoid cats altogether. However, if you have a loved one that has a cat, or you just love cats yourself, there are a few things you can do. Using specific air filters, bathing the cat, and allergy shots are a couple of things you can try. So if we compare having a cat vs a dog, when it comes to people with allergies, having a dog is more recommended.

If you are worried that your children might develop allergies to pets, studies suggest that exposing them to these allergens at an early age actually decreases their chance of developing allergies in adulthood.

Which Pet Causes More Damage Around The House?

No matter if you live in your own house in the suburbs, or in a rental apartment in the city, owning a pet may lead to them destroying some of your furniture.

But are dogs or cats better, when it comes to preserving your home and belongings? Well, there isn’t a simple answer to that question.

Cats are known for being laidback, but they may cause quite the destruction if left unattended. Usually, this includes scratching your furniture, drapes, door frames, kitchen cabinets, and more. They are also famous for casually knocking down objects like glasses, vases, and all kinds of ornaments. Besides this, even if they have their litter box to keep them clean, sometimes accidents happen, and you might find the stench of cat urine very hard to remove.

On the other hand, having a dog vs a cat comes with all kinds of other problems. Most of the damage usually occurs during puppy teething, when dogs like to chew on everything they can get their mouth on, from your shoes, to the legs of the kitchen table, the furniture, and other valuable things. If you live in the suburbs and have a yard, your dog might cause yellow patches in the grass from frequent urination, or it may chew up your flowers or fences. They are also much more prone to accidents if they are left alone at home and don’t have a litter to relieve themselves in. 

The good thing about dogs is that they respond very well to training, so you can teach them to stop their destructive tendencies, while cats often ignore your training and do as they please.

siamese cat and a dog walking together in a country road

Are Cats Better Than Dogs?

There are many reasons why some people would prefer cats over dogs. Here are some of them:

  • Cats are small: If you’ve ever spent time with a dog on your bed, even a small one, you know they like to hog the space. Cats, on the other hand, are more economical. As long as there’s space for their litter box, food, and water, your cat will be perfectly content in its crate. 
  • They’re happy indoors: They like the safety of the home, unlike dogs that prefer the adventurous outdoors. Our feline friends are perfectly satisfied lounging in front of the fire in winters, chasing yarn balls across the carpet, or leaping onto dressers and bookshelves. Open the window drapes, and your kitty will spend hours watching birds, butterflies, and squirrels.
  • Peace and quiet: In the cats vs dogs debate, this one is a big factor. Some people need their peace and no matter how much you love your dog, it doesn’t take long for their incessant barking to get annoying — particularly at night. In contrast, a cat’s meows and purring are quite cute. Most cats only meow when they want something, like cuddles or food.
  • Independence: Your kitties require a lot of your time, energy, and attention. But once they stop nursing and know how to use the litter box, they can stay at home unsupervised without causing major incidents. Puppies, however, require ongoing training, especially potty training. Plus, they get sad when their owners are away and may even develop separation anxiety.
  • Exceptional hunters: No matter if dog or cat, both animals are great at hunting. But cats are hardwired to stalk their prey, so a major perk of having them is a rat-free home. You should never allow your feline to eat a mouse, but their scent alone will keep rodents away. Cats sleep so much because they need to conserve a lot of their energy for the next hunt. 
  • Cats are clean creatures: They’re meticulous by nature and have an inherent instinct to bury their pee and poop. That’s how they hide their scent from predators in the wild. Also, cats clean themselves and do an excellent job of it, though you may need to trim their nails every once in a while.
  • Personal space: There’s a difference between keeping cats vs dogs as pets. Cats don’t require constant energy and attention, which means you can relax after a long workday. Dogs will keep shadowing you and nudging you to play even if you’re not in the mood.
  • Cats live longer: On average, a domestic cat lives anywhere between 10 to 16 years. For dogs, it’s between 8 to 11 years depending on their size.

So, if you like your personal space and peace at home, but also want much less responsibilities than usual, you should consider getting a cat. And next time someone asks you to explain why cats are better, let them have a look at this list. 

Why Do People Like Dogs More Than Cats?

Before you make your decision, you should know that dogs also have some excellent qualities that might make them better in your eyes.

  • Dogs are incredibly loving: As we mentioned before, social niceties are coded into a dog’s DNA. When their owner comes home, no animal gives a warmer welcome than a doggo, complete with goofy kisses. In contrast, cats have relaxed facial features that give the impression they’re not happy to see you.
  • They follow you anywhere: One of the best things about these furry pals is that they’ll shadow you everywhere, even in danger. No wonder dogs are known as one of the most loyal animals.
  • Bravery: When it comes to cats vs dogs, most dogs have a very protective nature. Since they’re pack animals, dogs think of their owners as masters and go to any length to guard them against danger. This protective tendency is why dogs often seem aggressive. But that’s a misunderstanding. You’ve heard the heroic dog stories of rescuing drowning people and saving disaster victims. They’re all true!
  • Responsive to training: Canines are far more quick learners than felines. Dogs love to please their owners, so they’re happy to do any task that will get them a reward. So why are dogs better than cats when it comes to training? Because you can teach them many different tricks beyond the basic “sit” and “stay” commands and that’s why we train dogs for specialized tasks like herding cattle or assisting the police.
  • Dogs ensure a healthy lifestyle: One study found that dog people are more energetic and outgoing. A dog will keep you on your toes as they never tire of playing and are always in for a walk. Their demand for exercise is something busy people can benefit from, and they might otherwise find no inclination to get active.
  • Comfort: When you are feeling down, nothing seems better than a warm hug from your four-legged friend. No matter where you stand on the cats vs dogs question, both have been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. However, dogs take that to another level with their naturally cheery and fun-loving attitude.
  • They’re funny: Dogs can pull the most amusing tricks. A pilot study found that dog people laugh more than people without pets. In contrast, people who own cats laugh less.
  • Dogs are more adaptable: Dogs accept change more quickly, particularly when they don’t see any adverse effects on their owners. Many breeds are fearful and anxious, but, on the whole, dogs have a much calmer and relaxed disposition than cats, who are quite sensitive to their environment.
  • They’re a man’s best friend: It’s true. Questions like the cats vs dogs one become unimportant after you get a dog. Once an owner bonds with their puppy, they have a true friend through thick and thin. Not many animals are as selfless, loyal, and devoted to a man as a dog.

If you want a pet that is very loving and loyal, that follows you everywhere you go, and tries to make you laugh on every occasion, consider getting a pup. There are many reasons why dogs can be better pets than cats and just looking at the above-mentioned list can show you what those reasons are. You now have enough reasons to decide. But wait, there’s more.  

Which Is a Better Pet, Cat, or Dog?

If you’re energetic, athletic, and like the outdoors, a dog may be the better choice as you can be workout buddies. Dogs need lots of fresh air and regular walks, so they’re more suited to people who like open spaces. Still, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to go out often, you can consider getting a smart door for your dog

Man’s best friend isn’t a solitary animal and demands attention. If you work long hours, you should think about whether you’d be able to give your pet the time it deserves. Prepare also to spend a lot of energy grooming and training them.

Canines come in different breeds, shapes, sizes, and temperaments, so you should also consider these things when getting a dog.

That said, if you live in a small apartment, cats are better than dogs. Felines like peace and quiet and can entertain themselves with the most trivial things. They don’t care for walks and aren’t the most active companion. But they do love to socialize and play.

They are also pretty easy to take care of as they like to keep clean, and will clean themselves often. Training them is also not needed as they are very independent creatures. Although they don’t have the dog’s boundless energy, cats have a very playful nature and can make for a fun and loving pet.

a black cat and an orange dog laying on a step together

Should I Get a Cat or Dog?

It’s the ultimate dilemma. There is no exact reason why people prefer one over the other. Some like both, and choosing between the two is a tough decision.

Both pets come in different breeds and temperaments. Genetics and history play a part in how friendly, trainable and active they are.

It’s essential to research your choice of pet thoroughly before you take them home.  Sometimes it’s less about the species and more about the bond you can forge with your pet over time.

Before you decide on what pet you’re gonna get, remember that all animals deserve love, attention, and kindness from their owners. Make sure you give that to them, and there’s no doubt you’ll have a friend for life.

So, where do you stand on the cats vs dogs debate?


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