How to Choose Between a Dog or Cat

If you are looking for a new pet, should you get a dog or cat? And if you have kids, which one is better for your children?  This article is going to answer those questions and help you choose between a dog or a cat. 


Dogs have earned a favorable reputation for being faithful and affectionate.  But is a dog right for you and your family?  Let’s consider the care a canine requires. 

Activity Level

Although a pup’s exercise needs differ from breed to breed, dogs generally have more energy than cats.  Dogs need daily walks and a backyard where they can play.

If you enjoy staying active a dog could be just the right companion for all your adventures.  Or if you have kids, they can burn off their excess energy by playing with the family dog. 

But because of their need for activity and stimulation, it’s not fair to leave dogs alone for long periods of time.  If you work all day and no one else will be home while you are gone, a dog might not be the best pet for your situation.  

Need for Companionship

Dogs are pack animals.  Hills cites, saying, “In the wild, dogs form packs in which each member cooperates to find food and provide protection.” 

When you own a dog, you and your family are part of that dog’s pack.  That means most dogs want you around for the majority of the day. 

If you live alone and work all day you probably won’t be able to spend enough time with a dog.  But if you work fewer hours or your family will be home when you aren’t, your dog will have plenty of human companionship.   


When looking at dogs vs cats, it’s clear that dogs require more training than cats do.  If you are super busy, or you currently have young kids who take up all your time, you might not be able to squeeze in enough training sessions. 

Plus, if you get a puppy, housetraining will become another major commitment. Trying to juggle young kids and puppy training might throw your life into chaos.  But if your kids are older, training a puppy is more doable. 

And don’t forget that you can rescue an adult dog who has already been trained.  This might be the way to go if your heart is set on getting a dog but you have young children who already take up much of your time.        

Grooming Needs

With so many different coat types, it’s impossible to say how much grooming your particular dog will require. Your dog’s unique coat will dictate the amount of time and money that gets spent on grooming. 

A family with young kids might want to choose a dog who doesn’t need an extensive amount of grooming.

Overall Level of Commitment

All in all, dogs require a higher level of commitment than cats do.  They need more exercise, training, and human interaction.

Plus, dogs can’t be left alone for long. For example, if you want to take a day trip with the kids you can’t leave your dog without making arrangements for someone to walk and feed your pooch while you are gone.

But dogs are still wonderful companions who are worth the extra time and effort.  Just make sure that you and your family are ready for the responsibility.    


Cats are known for being independent, yet they are still great friends.  Furthermore, they are normally easier to care for than dogs are.  Let’s discuss that care right now. 

Activity Level

Although cats require playtime, they don’t need as much exercise as dogs do.  You can get away with 1-3 ten-minute play sessions each day.

So, if you are more likely to lounge on the couch than take a hike, or if you don’t have a big enough backyard for an active pup, you should probably choose a cat over a dog.

Kids can enjoy cats too.  Your children would probably love playing with a cute kitty.  

Need for Companionship

Despite having an independent personality, cats still need to spend time with their owners.  However, this is often on their terms. 

When your cat feels like being petted, your feline will let you know by coming over and asking for attention.  But if your cat isn’t in the mood to show affection, you can expect your kitty to ignore you.

If you have kids, it’s important they understand this.  They must learn how to respect your cat’s need for space.

That being said, not all cats are alike.  Some will want more attention than others and may even have separation anxiety when their owners are gone. It’s up to you to determine what your cat needs.  


Cats don’t need to learn commands like sit and stay but you will have to teach your feline the rules of the house.  For example, if you don’t want your cat on the dining room table, this will require teaching your feline to stay off the table.

This type of training won’t require as much of a commitment as training a puppy would, but you must be diligent. And make sure your kids support your efforts by upholding the rules even when you aren’t around.

As for potty training, cats are way easier to train than dogs because using a litter box is part of a cat’s natural instincts.  Litter box training usually involves showing your cat where the box is located.  Once your cat knows this you normally don’t have to do anything else.       


There are many different types of cat coats.  Some require more grooming than others.  Be sure that you can keep up with the grooming requirements of the cat breed you choose. 

Overall Level of Commitment

Purina says, “If you have limited indoor space, a busy lifestyle or simply want a more independent pet, you might be better suited to a cat rather than a dog.”

It’s true that cats don’t require as much of a commitment as dogs do.  But that doesn’t mean you can neglect your furry friend. 

You will still need to spend time with your kitty while making sure your cat has access to food and water.  Cleaning out the litter box is also a daily chore.

When trying to choose between a dog or a cat, you need to take every aspect of their care into consideration.  You also need to evaluate your current life circumstances to make sure you are able to meet the needs of the pet you choose.

Once you’ve chosen a dog or cat, you and your family can enjoy the love and devotion that your four-legged friend gives so generously.


Lieber, A. (2014, December 10). Dog vs. Cat: Which is Right For You? From Pet Place:

Marie Bauhaus, J. (2019, October 30). Cat vs. Dog: Which Is the Best Pet for Me? From Hill's:

Should I Get a Cat or Dog? (n.d.). From Purina:

Kristina Tyler is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in pet care topics.  With her life-long love of animals and passion for learning, she thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about how to care for pets.  In her spare time, she teaches Sunday School classes, creates hand drawn pictures of animals, and devours the latest books by her favorite authors.  She lives in California with her adorable kitty named Chloe and attends classes at the local community college.   


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