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Cat Versus Dog: Which One Makes the Best Pet?

By Julia Williams

Pet owners often engage in friendly – and sometimes not-so-friendly – discussions on whether cats make better pets than dogs, or vice versa. While there are quite a few pet owners who love both cats and dogs equally, others are adamant in their stance that one species is better than the other. Where we stand in the great ‘cat versus dog debate’ is often a result of which pet we had growing up, or a particular experience we had with one, either positive or negative. Sometimes a preference emerges for no apparent reason; it just is, and it’s how we’ve always felt.

Over the years I’ve been a pet mom to a dozen cats. I like dogs too but have only shared my home with one, so my experience with them is more limited. However, just because my BFF’s have always been cats doesn’t automatically mean I think cats make better pets than dogs. The relationships are different, not necessarily better. Nonetheless, for the sake of the debate I’ve come up with a few reasons why one might want a cat instead of a dog. Don’t think I’m bashing dogs though, because I’m really not. Rather, this is just my attempt at humor.

The Cleanliness Factor

Dogs need to be bathed regularly and even then, many breeds have a distinct ‘eau de dog’ shortly after getting squeaky clean. Cats win this category paws down because they are remarkably self cleaning. My cats wash themselves after every FELIDAE feeding frenzy, in between mealtimes, and pretty much every waking hour. Bathing a cat is rarely necessary, which is a good thing because it’s not exactly easy to do without getting shredded.

Physical Activity

All dogs need regular exercise. Some breeds can get by with a short daily walk or play session in the backyard, but others need more physical activity than this, which can be challenging if you’re more ‘couch potato’ than marathon runner. Cats need regular exercise too, but you don’t need to brave the chill of winter to help them burn off their kibble calories. A drawer-full of cheap cat toys is all you need!


Big dogs eat mountains of food, and even some small dog breeds put away more kibble than most cats do. Dogs need bigger pet beds than kitties do, and most felines prefer a cardboard box over a cushy pet bed anyway, so you might as well not buy one. There are typically more supplies to buy for dogs too, such as crates, leashes, harnesses, rain booties, and sweaters for those short-haired or hairless breeds. Cats don’t need to wear sweaters and most will claw you into itty bitty pieces if you’re foolish enough to even think about putting one on them. Same for the harness and leash…just don’t go there!


There’s a big difference in the time and effort required to train dogs versus cats.  For cats, training generally consists of showing them where their litter box is kept, and keeping a spray bottle of water handy to discourage counter surfing. Dogs need rules and guidance to become canine good citizens who will follow your basic commands at home, at the dog park and on walks.

Barking Versus Meowing

A bored dog left alone all day tends to engage in excessive barking, which can really get annoying when you live next door. It’s certainly not the dog’s fault, but that doesn’t make the barking any less irritating. Conversely, have you ever heard someone complain because the neighbor’s cat meowed all day while they were away? Nope, me neither! If you’re gone a lot, a cat is definitely the better pet because they sleep all day anyway.

The Palate

It’s no secret that dogs view the things they find in garbage cans, the cat’s litter box and their backyard as tasty tidbits. Yep, dogs eat rotten food and poop, and they like to roll in the stinky stuff too. When have you ever seen a cat do that? Enough said.

I’m sure I could come up with just as many reasons why dogs make better pets than cats… but I won’t because that would mean I’d have to relinquish my lifetime membership in the Crazy Cat Lady club, and the tacky cat plaque that came with it. And you know, I’ve actually grown quite fond of that ugly thing. 

Photo by Dixie Wells

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