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Cats or Dogs: Who Makes a Better Companion?

By Rachel Segal
 unsplash / krista-mangulsone
*Updated 2020
The world is divided into cat people and dog people. Having a certain preference has been known to strain or even break up relationships. As more than half of American households (almost 80 million homes!) own a pet and spent $95.7 billion on them in 2019, the debate between cats and dogs is one that will likely continue until the end of time. Today, in times of forced sheltering in place, the companionship of these furry friends (whether canine or feline) is of great comfort, with animal shelters nationwide seeing a sharp jump in the number of pet adoptions.
Here are three arguments why dogs make better companions and three arguments why felines as pets are the “cat’s pajamas.”


Why Dogs Make Better Companions than Cats


Dogs love to play (and work)

While you can play with some cats, nothing measures up to the sheer, infectious joy your dog shows for playtime. Inside or outside, dogs are always eager to join any game and will happily play with kids and adults for hours on end. And, unlike cats, dogs can play interactively; they’ll catch a ball and bring it back to you. Not only can dogs be easily trained to play and do tricks, they can also be trained to do actual jobs that make a real difference in society. It helps that dogs are scientifically proven to be as smart as 2-year-old kids.


Dogs are more adaptable than cats

While both dogs and cats prefer routine and don’t like uncertainty, dogs are much more adaptable than cats. This is because dogs usually bond with their owner rather than with a specific place. So, unlike cats, dogs are more likely to be happy wherever their owner is and will therefore better handle relocating to new places. You can even take your dog on vacation and know that he’ll enjoy it rather than being stressed.


Dogs will protect you

No matter the dog breed, all dogs feel protective and defensive of their owners. Whereas cats will typically run off and hide at the first sense of danger, dogs will stay around out of duty and loyalty, protecting and defending you against any threats to your safety. Moreover, a dog’s sense of smell can also save lives. Another way that dogs are good for your health is that they motivate their owners to exercise more. New research shows that dog walkers (i.e., most dog owners) are more physically active than people who don’t own dogs.


Why Cats Make Better Companions than Dogs:


Cats are independent.

The independent spirit of cats is a virtue, especially when you’re busy or expecting company. Dogs work themselves into a frenzy, barking, jumping, and drooling on you and your visitors. In their excited bid for attention, dogs’ nails scratch clothes and their drool soils them (which is just as unwelcome for owners as it is for guests.) Meanwhile, cats make themselves scarce when the doorbell rings. Maybe, they’ll discreetly check out your guests by rubbing up against their leg, but there won’t be any overbearing leaping or leg humping. Plus, cats’ aloofness means you (and your guests) won’t need to give them constant attention.


Cats are low-maintenance.

You can leave your cat inside when you’re not home and be mostly assured that everything will still be in one piece when you get back. More importantly, cats aren’t dependent on their owners to go to the bathroom. Sure, kitty litter can smell if it isn’t changed regularly, but you can store and change it at your convenience. Not to mention, some cats can be trained to actually use the toilet. In contrast, dogs don’t care if there’s rain, snow or extreme heat outside. When they need a walk, there’s no avoiding it. And even if you have a yard, you’ll still need to do constant poop-control outside. Plus, cats groom themselves and don’t emit bad a smell. Not even the most ardent dog lover can deny that their furry companion has a distinctly strong odor, which often remains on clothes, furniture and in cars after they’ve gone.


Cats are quiet.

Unlike dogs that will always vocalize their moods with loud barks or endless whining, most cats will (mostly) keep their moods to themselves. Even when cats do protest, their meows or hisses are usually not as loud as barks and can’t be heard from the neighbor’s house. There’s also an added benefit of your cat’s low-decibel purring is that it’s been shown to reduce stress levels and blood pressure, among other things.


The Bottom Line: Both cats and dogs make wonderful pets for different reasons. While cats are low-key and low-maintenance, dogs are active and adoring. Which type of furry companion to you prefer to live with, especially in times of stress and uncertainty?

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