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Dogs vs. Cats: Which Is Right for You and Your Family?

Kelly Sundstrom
Sept. 21, 2015

Dog people or cat people? When it comes to the never-ending dogs vs. cats debate, what's best for your family?

In the great dogs vs. cats debate, the winner really depends on your particular lifestyle. Before you adopt a new pet, make sure to really evaluate which one would work best for you and your family. You might love dogs, but if you live in a small apartment, a large dog might not work out. Dr. Adam Jaffe from Montgomery Animal Hospital agrees.

"Someone who is living in a small studio apartment and works 10 to 12 hours a day, perhaps a dog isn't the right choice for you," explains Dr. Jaffe. "Cats can be pretty self-sufficient -- if they have ample amount of food, water and a little box, they can pretty much handle that themselves."

Do a little research about dogs and cats before picking one out so that you know what to expect. "Choosing the right pet for your family will ensure a long and successful relationship between the animal and the human," says Dr. Kim Carvalho, a veterinarian at VCA Brentwood Animal Hospital. "It's important to sit down as a family and determine what your lifestyle is like."

So, dogs vs. cats? Check out the pros and cons of each and figure out which is the better match for your lifestyle before you consider bringing one home.

No Time For Walks? The Pros of Having a Cat

  • Cats are Self-Sufficient
    Since cats use a litter box instead of going outside to use the bathroom, you won't need to worry if you're away at work for most of the day. No hiring a dog walker or running home from work early -- just make sure to keep the litter box clean so that your cat has a fresh place to do his business. Cats are also self-cleaning machines and will rarely need a trip to the groomer.
  • Cats Keep Pests at Bay
    When you have a cat around the house, you probably won't see any mice, roaches, ants or beetles. Cats will instinctively keep your home pest-free.

Who Knocked Over My Water? The Cons of Having a Cat

  • Cats are Curious
    Just like toddlers, cats seem to get into everything. This includes leftover food, shopping bags and purses. Have an open beverage on the table? Be careful it doesn't fall victim to wayward paws. Many people use spray bottles of water to help cats learn what to stay away from.
  • Cats Have Claws
    In the wild, a cat will use her claws to catch prey and ward off enemies, but in your home, these claws can end up fraying the bottom of your couch. However, a simple scratching post and a little redirection can help a cat learn where she can and can't sharpen her claws.
  • Cats Have Stoic Personalities
    Some cats, anyway. When you walk into the room, don't expect your cat to come running over to see you. Some cats act very aloof and seem to only look for affection on their own timetable. However, when they do look for a little love, cats will really give it their all.

Want a New Best Friend? The Pros of Having a Dog

  • Dogs are Excited to See You
    Unlike many cats, dogs often greet you at the door with excitement. They just love attention and affection, and they're always eager to please.
  • Dogs Protect the Home
    Many people choose to adopt a dog as a safeguard against home invasion. Your sense of security will skyrocket when you have a dog that barks if someone approaches the house.

Didn't I Just Let You Out? The Cons of Having a Dog

  • Dogs Require Bathroom Breaks
    Unless you try to litter train your dog, she will need to go outside to use the bathroom multiple times per day. This means that you will either need to take her for walks yourself or install a doggy door that leads into a fenced-in yard.
  • Dogs Need Discipline
    When you bring a new dog into the home, she will need some time to understand the "house rules." You'll have to learn how to train your dog or sign him up for obedience classes -- and keep in mind that certain breeds take to training better than others!
  • Dogs Need Regular Exercise
    In order for your dog to stay healthy, happy and fit, you'll need to regularly take him on a walk or run. Having a large fenced-in yard will allow him to run and play easily, but if you live in an apartment or have a tiny yard, regular walks will be necessary. And some breeds need much more exercise than others, so make sure know how much playtime your particular dog will need before you bring him home.

Still having trouble deciding between a dog and a cat? Check out Choose the Right Pet for Your Family.

Kelly Sundstrom is an award-winning journalist, author, artist and national special needs spokesperson. As the caretaker of two dogs, five cats and a bearded dragon, Sundstrom understands the importance of finding the right pet for your lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter.

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