So you’re ready to take the next step and add a furry companion to your life.
But how do you know which animal will best fit your lifestyle and family needs? Have you thought about who’s going to be responsible for your companion? Will it be your kids? Your partner? Are you living alone and looking for a friend to play, exercise and otherwise just exist with?
There are many factors involved in choosing the best pet for your specific needs. And no, it doesn’t have to be just a dog or cat! There are plenty of other family-friendly pet options that may better suit your needs such as a rabbit, ferret, gerbil, bird, etc. In this post, however, we’ll look at the differences between two of the most popular pets in America: Cats and Dogs (but don’t let this stop you from pursing another animal that’s more realistic for you).
Let’s start with a few basic questions to get you thinking about which animal would best suit your lifestyle:
- Do you have a family?
- If yes, does anyone have an allergy, or have you introduced your children to cats and dogs before to make sure they are allergy free? Many people forget to have their kids visit with a friend or relative’s pet first and end up finding an allergy present after making an adoption.
- Or how about this: does anyone have a specific fear? If your three-year-old is terrified of big dogs and cries when they encounter one you might want to cross a St. Bernard or Great Dane off your list, even if that’s the breed you always wanted. They’ll probably grow out of the fear, but why terrorize your child now when there are plenty of other pet options to start with?
- Who’s taking the primary responsibility of care?
- If you live alone than this one’s easy – it’s you. Problem solved.
- If you have a family, consider who’s going to be cleaning up after the pet, feeding them, walking them, brushing them, taking them to vet appointments, etc. Somehow, even if you mean for your children to take charge or they promise to, parents usually end up taking the reigns on pet-care. Does your partner oppose getting a pet because they don’t want to be the only one picking up the poop? Make a commitment to address these issues before you adopt so that everyone is on the same page about their role in the pet’s life and no resentment towards your furry companion will build.
- Don’t forget about the money aspect as well! Pet’s require money for food, toys, medicine, leashes, litter, and more. What happens if there’s an emergency vet visit because your dog ate a shoe and now he needs surgery to remove it? Yes, this happened to a friend of mine! Unexpected health issues can arise in an animal just as they would a person and you must plan to be committed to your pet as you would any other member of your family and that includes financially.
- What is your (and your family’s) schedule like?
- Do you live alone and work long hours every day? You’ll want to plan to adopt a pet who can handle this and should avoid puppies and kittens as they take drastically more time and attention than their adult counterparts.
- Do you travel for work or take extended vacations? Again, be realistic about how much time you spend away from your house. Is it plausible to take your companion along if you’re staying at a beach house in the Outer Banks for two weeks every July? Perhaps for a dog it is, but probably not so much for a cat.
- What are you looking to gain from pet ownership?
- Do you want a companion so you’re not coming home alone every night?
- Do you want to teach your kids responsibility?
- Do you want to be able to go out hiking with a companion?
- Do you want a friend to sit in your lap while you watch a movie?
- Do you just want all the joy and love that comes from having a furry friend in your life? Thinking about what you want from your pet will help you decide whether a dog, cat, or other animal is the right choice.
Now that your thinking about all the responsibilities that comes from owning a pet, let’s get down to the pros and cons on Cats vs. Dogs! I made a simple chart listing five pros and five cons to each pet based on my experiences of owning and caring for both types of animals.
Please keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule. Right now our cat Aslan behaves much more like a dog than a cat, i.e. he greets us at the door, plays fetch, walks on a leash, etc so don’t feel like these are set in stone rules; they are more like general guidelines. And please don’t be offended if something I’ve listed as a pro or con doesn’t feel that way to you! Each and every pet owner has a unique animal and that’s the beauty of pet ownership – animals have personalities that influence their behaviors and some of these simply won’t apply.
Cats are generally more of the go-to animal if you’re looking for a low maintenance friend who can roam the house and give you affection from time to time. Dogs are the go-to animal if you’re looking to have an actively involved “child” to participate in and be a constant presence in your life.
Really, it all depends on what kind of friend you are looking for. Perhaps neither a cat or dog fits the bill and you need another type of animal entirely. That’s okay too!
If you’re looking to adopt a new friend all that I want is for you to understand the needs, wants, and responsibilities of pet ownership. Consider your family and lifestyle and then when you make a commitment, you make a commitment! Your animal will appreciate you for you it.
There is so much love that comes from having a pet companion and I greatly recommend adding a furry friend to your family if you’re financially, emotionally, and mentally ready to take on the task.
Have questions? Drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Until next time –
Yours For Happy Writing,