Should I Get a Dog or a Cat?

(by Emma Collins)

Pets can bring so much into our lives from unconditional love, companionship, and unending amusement.

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If you have never had a furry companion before, choosing the type of pet to get can be challenging. Both cats and dogs are just so cute, it's impossible to pick one!

However, pets are a long-term commitment (something to bear in mind). Get to know some of the basic - and highly generalized - character traits of both cats and dogs, before you commit.

What are Dogs Like?

Dogs tend to be social creatures who would love nothing more than to be involved in all aspects of your life.

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They are hardwired with pack instinct, so they look for a leader and instinctively follow wherever their pack goes.

Dogs, like people, crave attention and closeness, for the most part. They need to spend quality time with you to be happy, it's their love language. If you're seriously considering adopting a dog, make sure you'd have the wherewithal to spend that quality time with them. 

Dogs also require a lot of stimulation and physical activity. Dogs and puppies alike, need regular exercise to stay fit and healthy, burn some energy, reduce destructive behavior, and learn social skills.

What are Cats Like?

On face value, cats may seem to require much less energy, attention, and time than dogs. Upon closer inspection, however, in terms of dedicated time and devotion to your new pet, cats are not necessarily less needy. 

It's true, they clean up after themselves (as long as you cleaned their litter box!), and they don't require attention for satisfaction, the way dogs do. However, it's also true that they're intelligent, sentient beings that have needs, and are capable of affection. 

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A better option for a loner, looking for a pet that will feel more self-sufficient, felines don't live in packs, shedding some light on their collective "personality".

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Unlike dogs, you can leave cats for more prolonged periods of time.

Although your pet will miss you, cats won't depend on you to take them out for a walk as soon as you go home. While they still require physical activity and playtime, this won't be taxing for you; they'll be as happy chasing around a laser pointer as you sit on the couch.

Know Yourself

Your personality and lifestyle will be a significant determining factor when deciding whether or not to become a pet parent - and if so, of which breed you should seek to parent. 

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Here are some questions to ask yourself, to help prepare for your first pet:

  • Can you handle the hair? Living with an animal usually involves dealing with lots of fur. While there are dogs and cat breeds that shed more hair than others, both pets shed to an extent. Canines, however, tend to require more clean up compared to their feline counterparts.  
  • Are you an active and outdoorsy person? If you love going on adventures and want a pet that can keep up with you, then a dog might be a better choice. This doesn't mean that you can't take your cat outside under supervision or walk it on a leash. However, a dog would more likely enjoy this activity.
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  • Are you willing to walk your pet every day? Dogs require daily walks to keep them fit and healthy. This activity also helps them release excess energy, minimizing the chances of them doing something destructive. If you can't commit to daily walks, you might want to get a cat instead.
  • Can you be a leader? A properly trained dog will look to you as the pack leader and strive to obey and please you. A relationship with a cat will be different, but will still require some leadership from you. Despite this, their independent nature has us believing cats see themselves as your equal or even higher than you.
  • Are you ready to feel needed? Both animals are affectionate in their own ways, but both will depend on you completely. 
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Still Can't Decide?

Some people equally love cats and dogs. Under the right conditions, both animals can get along and live happily in the same household.

But if you can only own one and still can't decide whether you should get a dog or a cat, consider taking a Buzzfeed animal personality test.


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