Dogs versus cats

Pets

There are many ways to bring a pet into your family but which is best for you? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

puppy and kitten lying on the grass

Pets are an important part of people's lives, and research shows they can help improve physical and mental well-being. A four-legged friend can also increase your likelihood of exercising, while teaching you about responsibility and love every day. Pet owners (especially the elderly) are less likely to suffer from depression and loneliness compared to people without pets.

Differences between dogs and cats

Below lists some differences between dogs and cats by highlighting the benefits/disadvantages of owning each pet.

  Cats Dogs
Lifespan Live 12-15+ years - some cats can live to 21. Live 6-15 years - largely dependent on their breed.
Activity Inactive - love to sit on your lap and sleep for 15-18 hours a day. Very active - suit an energetic person as they love to run and play
Exercise No exercise needed. Love to exercise - needed daily for their well-being and health.
Feeding Eat small amounts - need proteins, so a diet rich in meat Eat a lot - Avoid providing regular snacks, especially human food. Bigger breeds need more food and eat the most, therefore are generally more expensive.
Loyalty Independent/distant - Cats might leave if they've had enough attention from you. Extremely loyal - Very committed to you and instinctively protect their owners.
Social Private animals - Cats are solitary animals compared to dogs. Social beings - Dogs generally want to be with you (as their owner and pack leader).
Cost Cost less than dogs - No registration fees and generally most associated costs are cheaper in comparison to that of dogs. More expensive - Extra costs to consider like dog registration fees, boarding/kennel fees and puppy training.

Other facts about dogs and cats include:

  • A cat's memory is about 200 times better than a dog's - 16 hours for cats compared to 5 minutes for dogs. dogs can be trained much quicker than cats.
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with more households now having a cat and/or a dog than those having a child.

Choosing the right pet

You and your pet are going to have a long term relationship, so it's worth thinking about what type of pet is really going to suit your personality and lifestyle.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Buy or adopt?

Adopting a pet from a rescue organisation is a great way to give an abandoned animal a second chance at a loving home.

If you would prefer to buy a pet from a breeder or pet store, be informed about what types of breeding practices they use to ensure you're supporting ethical breeding practices.

Consider adopting a pet through the Animal Welfare League Queensland.

Young or mature?

Everyone loves puppies and kittens because they're extremely cute and have personality plus. But puppies and kittens need a lot of your time (and patience) when it comes to training and socialising them so they become well-behaved pets. You will also need to decide whether to have your pet desexed when they are old enough.

If you don't have the time to put into raising a puppy or kitten, maybe a more mature animal that's already toilet trained, desexed and comfortable around other animals could be more suitable.

Purebred or mix?

Getting a purebred animal is important for some people, particularly if you are after specific characteristics from certain breeds. But purebred animals can be predisposed to some medical conditions, especially if poor breeding practices are followed.

Mixed breed animals are generally more affordable to buy and look after, and are less likely than purebreds to suffer from hereditary conditions.

Active or placid?

Some dog breeds (such as Border Collies and Kelpies) are extremely active by nature and will require a lot of daily exercise. Other breeds (such as Greyhounds and Cavalier King Charles Cocker Spaniels) may be happy with a leisurely walk once a day.

Walking a dog is extremely important for their physical and mental wellbeing. So if you work long hours and are unlikely to make it out at least once a day, a cat may be a more appropriate pet for you.

Indoor or outdoor?

Most pets love to be where you are, which is usually inside. If you have a strong preference for keeping animals outside, you need to make sure your pet is compatible with that.

It's generally not advised to leave cats outside unsupervised as they often get into fights with other cats, get lost, get hit by cars or harm native fauna. Contact your local council to find out what local government regulations apply in your area.

If you're planning on leaving a dog outside, you should ensure it gets plenty of exercise, always has access to shade and shelter, and that it can't get out of your yard when it gets bored. Ask your local vet for more information.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.