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home : columns : columns June 28, 2016

6/17/2014 1:48:00 PM
Dog or cat - which pet is right for you?
Jasmine the Siamese. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
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Jasmine the Siamese. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

Nikki the by Jodi Schneider McNamee
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Nikki the by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in the world. Cats are more independent and are generally less demanding. Dogs are loyal and obedient, but require more attention and exercise, including regular walks.

Which one is right for you?

Many people already have a sense of whether they are a "cat person" or a "dog person." Some folks have grown up with certain pets and are most comfortable with that particular species.

Cats and dogs have different needs and characteristics, and whether one is right for you can often be determined by your lifestyle as much as personal preference.

Consider how much time you can devote to your pet. Dogs require more time than cats and don't like to be left home alone. As far as temperament, generally dogs tend to need their human more than the independent cat.

Different breeds have different temperament in both species. For instance, Siamese cats are very intelligent, playful and more affectionate toward their human than another cat breed. So educate yourself on the different breeds if you thinking of a purebred pet.

If you are active and enjoy being outdoors, a dog may be the right choice for you. Since dogs need stimulation, space and routine, they are best suited to people who have yards and can take them on a daily walk. Dogs can be taken on trips and outings, and often enjoy traveling. You will also need to be able to make time to train and groom your dog. If you live in an apartment and your job has long demanding hours, you may not be able to give your dog the full attention and stimulation he deserves.

Cats don't tend to need as much indoor space as dogs. So if you have limited space, a busy lifestyle and would like a pet that's a bit more independent, you may be better suited to a cat instead of a dog. Cats are relatively quiet, independent, and can be left alone to sleep and entertain themselves for most of the day. They don't need walking, although they do need stimulation, thrive on social interaction, and will enjoy playing with you or being groomed, especially if they're long-haired.

Here are some differences between dogs and cats, something to contemplate before deciding which pet is right for you:

• Dogs can be trained quickly, some in a matter of minutes, to obey basic commands like "come" and "sit."

• Dogs need to be housebroken and socialized, which may require a lot of time and patience.

• Most cats are difficult to train to respond to directives.

• Cats can be easily trained to use their litter box.

• Dogs are social beings. They want to be with their pack, wherever their pack may be.

• Cats are solitary by comparison and their primary attachment tends to be their territory rather than other two- or four-legged animals.

• Dogs are earthbound, so they need their pack to hunt effectively. When a threat triggers their fight-or-flight response, they are more likely to react with aggression because their ability to flee from a predator is limited.

• Cats can jump and climb, giving them more options when they need to hunt for food, or when they feel threatened.

• Dogs are scavenging carnivores, but if necessary, they can survive on plant material alone.

• Cats are strict carnivores. Kittens cannot sustain life without eating meat in some form.

• Cats often spend up to 50 percent of their waking hours grooming themselves. By contrast, dogs groom only their feet and private parts. To keep your dog clean, he needs regular bathing.

• Dogs in the wild catch their prey by running it down. They are long-distance runners, not sprinters. Cats creep up on their prey and catch it by surprise. They are sprinters, not long-distance runners.

• According to the Encephalization Quotient or EQ, cats and dogs rank closely when it comes to intelligence, although the dog is slightly more intelligent than a cat.

Still can't decide?

Many folks love cats and dogs equally and, under the right conditions, the two species can happily share the same household if you give both pets time to comfortably get to know each other when you introduce them.

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