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Dogs vs. cats: Which make the best pets?

Each comes with rewards, responsibilities and financial choices.

By Cheapism.com Jan 23, 2014 3:32PM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site Cheapism.com.
Cheapism.com on MSN Money

It's an old question, and to some a first-date necessity: Are you a dog person or a cat person? In their respective roles as both work animals and pets (and sometimes even gods), dogs and cats have lived alongside humans for thousands of years. Meanwhile, the persistent dogs versus cats comparison has been running a parallel course.

Portrait of a dog and cat © Daniel Fort/Getty ImagesCosts
A first cut at determining which is the better pet to own invariably focuses on the associated costs of dogs versus cats. We found that variables like the price of food, toys, and even pet insurance depend on the breed as much as the type of animal.

Some small dogs eat less than a common house cat, for example, and some purebred cats may require more care than a mixed breed dog. An article we posted recently researched the expenses attached to owning dogs or cats and found that purebreds and specialty breeds (such as the goldendoodle) are the most expensive to acquire regardless. Some breeds of cats and dogs are also highly susceptible to developing illnesses and are vulnerable to particular genetic disorders. These factors raise the cost of pet medical insurance and the potential for pricey veterinary bills.

But letting raw dollars sway the choice between a dog or a cat seems crass. Owning and caring for a pet is, after all, an emotional experience. So we spoke with cat and dog owners and asked what makes one animal a better pet than the other.

Attention and care
A common theme voiced by the cat people in support of their preference is that dogs require much more time and attention. One woman who owns two cats acknowledges that caring for them is a lot of responsibility but ultimately less work intensive than a dog.  She says she never feels guilty when leaving the house because cats are relatively independent, and they play with each other when in need of companionship. Leaving a dog at home, she continues, would not be quite so care-free.

Although some pet owners and wannabes regard cats' seeming indifference to their masters as a big negative, this feline lover frames their behavior differently. "It means that when my cats are affectionate I never take it for granted," she explains. What about skittish cats that hide when a stranger comes by? "Your friends may never realize how awesome your cat is," she continues, "but it makes you feel special to be the person they're bonded to."

Even some folks who are more inclined to label themselves dog people ultimately opt for a cat. "I'd enjoy the time I spend with a dog more than with a cat," declares another pet owner, "but a dog demands so much more attention and care."

Others remain undeterred. The owner of a small white Maltese concedes that the responsibilities that come with owning a dog are demanding at times but that high price is redeemed by the perks.

"You'll likely meet neighbors you would never have known otherwise," she notes, "and in a big city dog runs are generally social places, so you get to know the regulars and make connections and friendships." This owner even suggests ways dogs can be used to help others: A well-trained dog can be certified as a therapy dog, for example, and you can volunteer with the pooch at a hospital. "It's a great way to give back," she says.

The convert
We eventually found someone to weigh in on dogs versus cats who had experienced an epiphany of sorts. "My entire life I felt I was a cat person," the woman explains, "but once my family adopted a dog I realized how wrong I'd been." For her, the interactive friendship, the sense of comfort that comes with frisky cuddling, and the treasured ritual of morning walks won her over. "Dogs go out of the way to make you happy," she concludes, "and while I love my kitty, she just doesn't participate as much in our friendship."

More from Cheapism: 
268Comments
Jan 23, 2014 5:17PM
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     THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ARTICLE, BUT IM FOR DEPORTING JUSTIN BIEBER BACK TO CANADA.  NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WOULD LET A FOREIGNER BREAK THE LAW EVERY DAY LIKE THIS  PUNK,  WHAT A ROLL MODEL FOR THE KIDS.   VOTE TO GET RID OF HIM OR 5 YEARS IN PRISON.
Jan 23, 2014 4:43PM
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Both are good pets, depends on the individual life style which is better for you.
Jan 23, 2014 5:10PM
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I love both my cat and my dog equally.  They are family.   I prefer them to many people I know. 

 

My cat waits for me at the top of the stairs when she hears me coming home.....the dog, however, waits for me to come to her. 

 

Please remember to spay and neuter.  There are many, many low cost clinics that are set up to do just that.  Rescue animals make wonderful companions. 

Jan 23, 2014 5:42PM
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I grew up with dogs but became a cat person when my husband brought one home.
People who think cats don't show affection or love couldn't be more wrong. My cat greets me at the door when I come home looking for attention and usually a quick belly rub.  He also loves to play - being chased by me is his favorite.  He will run from room to room and "hide" under beds and chairs not realizing that his butt or tail is sticking out.  He sleeps at the foot of my bed every night and comes up in the morning for some cuddles before the alarm goes off.  He really is the best pet I've ever had.  Low maintenance, tons of affection and he makes me laugh every day.
Jan 23, 2014 5:16PM
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I have always been a dog person, but my son really wanted a pet and I did not want the responsibility of taking care of it.   He started out with a couple hamsters, one ended up killing the other and my son was heartbroken over it.  We went to the pet store and there was an adult shelter cat there that he fell in love with.  I bought one of those automatic littermaid boxes and we brought her home.  I never thought I would be a cat person, but she has captured my heart as well.  
Jan 23, 2014 5:35PM
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We have a balanced life in our house, a dog to adore us and a cat to ignore us :)

Jan 23, 2014 4:48PM
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Cats! You can leave a cat by itself for a day or two, don't need to get up at 5 in the morning and walk it in the rain, snow or freezing cold, you don;t have to rush home after work to walk the dog...cats are OK by themselves for a little while.  Dogs have to be batheed regularly, cats clean themselves.  cats don;t get all spastic and jump all over people who come to your house...when was the last time some kid got attacked and ended up in the emergency room becuase a cat attack?
Jan 23, 2014 5:22PM
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     THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS ARTICLE,BUT, IM FOR DEPORTING JUSTIN BIEBER BACK TO CANADA.  NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WOULD LET A PUNK LIKE JUSTIN BREAK THE LAW EVER DAY AND LET HIM WALK.  WHERE IS THE JUDGE WITH SOME BALLS TO GIVE HIM 5 YEARS IN PRISON OR DEPORTATION.  LETS VOTE ON IT.
Jan 23, 2014 5:41PM
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Dogs are great-but they are like children.  They need attention and care.  Cats are like well behaved roommates.  They are great to have around but when you want to go to hawaii for ten days you won't miss your roommate-and all you have to do is leave out extra food, water and litter-and that takes 5 minutes of your time.

 

And every cat I ever had was super affectionate and loved snuggling on my bed, couch, and lap-and I never saw a dog that could catch any bug or rat or mouse ANYWHERE even close to a level on a par with a cat.  Own a cat and kiss your pest problem goodbye-almost overnight.....

 

Jan 23, 2014 4:41PM
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I love them both. I must admit I would enjoy having a dog more than I enjoy having my two cats. I cannot have a dog in my apartment but would love to have one to take with me everywhere. Dogs show so much more love and appreciation. My cat follows me around like a dog but I cannot take him outside for runs or to the beach etc.

 

On the other hand..I love the freedom of having cats since I don't have to rush home to walk the dog. :)

Jan 23, 2014 4:57PM
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I prefer a dog, but like some cats, especially the Maine coon cat, that thinks it's a dog.  The best expression I ever heard was a cat thinking of how her master feeds her, cares for her, etc., so the cat thinks she must be a queen.  The dog thinks of his master that feeds him, cares for him, etc.,so the dog thinks his master must be a king.  So true...
Jan 23, 2014 5:25PM
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It all depends on the person which pet is the best. Over the years, I have had both dogs and cats. Cats are easier to deal with altogether. I have two cats who are as sweet as they can be. All I do is fed both of them and one who stays in the house most of the time and I change the cat liter box when needed. My house cat is very loyal to me just as some of the dogs I've had over the years. She greets me at the door everyday when I come home from work and scratches my bedroom door until I let her in at night. She loves to lick me like a dog which is very unusual for a cat. A friend of mine has four dogs. Three stay in the house and one outside. They all just about knock him down when he comes home. They act like they haven't seen him in weeks or months after he's been gone for only a few hours. For all you cat haters, if you could meet my two cats, you might like them a little bit. One actually thinks he's a dog and plays with them and my other cat loves to chase two of the dogs in my neighborhood which is hilarious to watch.
Jan 23, 2014 4:41PM
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Dogs make the best pets.   They are loyal and damn glad to see you when you come home.
Jan 23, 2014 5:38PM
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Real question is who makes the best friend? I had a dog best friend and now I have a cat who is best friend . Friendship is not confined  to breed or species. You can argue all day long if you are cat or dog people... just saying.... check out FB Esther the Wonder Pig ... she is theirs best friend
Jan 23, 2014 5:13PM
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This article is just asking for people to fight.
Jan 23, 2014 4:41PM
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I grew up a cat person.  When I met my wife, she converted me to a dog person.  Now I couldn't live in a house without having a dog or two around.
Jan 23, 2014 5:40PM
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Cats but, prairie dogs are pretty cool pets too.
Jan 23, 2014 6:16PM
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Cats. Mostly because I'm lazy and independent myself. It's a win-win relationship.
Jan 23, 2014 5:59PM
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my cat is 14 years old and uses a pet door to go in and out...she knows the sound of my truck and when i come home she will come and jump in the truck with me...she loves to ride and sits on the console like a dog...no vet bills but shots...easy to care for and when its bed time she will curl up and purr all to sleep...maybe she was a dog in an earlier life...haha...low maintenence,high love...
Jan 23, 2014 5:44PM
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I've always had both.They're all wonderful.But horses are even more work than dogs or cats.I like having dogs and cats and watching them interact.It's fun.All of them are good for your stress level since they lower your blood pressure when you're petting them.
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