So You Want a Pet: Puppies Vs. Kittens
Raising a dog is a much different experience than raising a cat. If you're wondering which pet might be right for you based on your lifestyle, take a look at our guide.
In the pet world, the lines are firmly drawn. There’s a clear divide between “dog people” and “cat people.” But believe it or not, there are some people who have yet to choose a side! So if you’re not loyal to one team over the other, how do you know which of these sweet animals to bring home?
Raising a new puppy is very different from raising a kitten. Each animal has unique needs in nearly every aspect of their lives, from their sleeping habits to how you potty train them. By understanding these differences, you’ll be able to decide which pet is the best fit for your family.
Behavior and relationships
Dogs enjoy connecting with humans and will probably stick close to you throughout the day. You can expect your puppy to follow you to the mailbox, join you in the bathroom, and even jump in the car when you’re leaving. If you’re looking for a sidekick to keep you company every waking minute, you’ll most likely find that in a dog!
Kittens, however, are very independent creatures. They will need you to feed them and keep the litter box clean but aside from that, kittens are fairly autonomous. They may watch you curiously but don’t tend to follow their owners around the way puppies do. This makes cats, in general, more low-maintenance than dogs. Kittens require less one-on-one attention and can usually be left alone for most of the day without any issues.
These observations are, of course, just generalizations. Like humans, each cat and dog has its own unique personality! Don’t be surprised if you end up with an active, outgoing cat or a shy, lazy dog.
Behavior isn’t the only area where raising kittens require less work. They’re also easier when it comes to potty training. That’s because most kittens know right off the bat to go to the litter box when they need to use the bathroom. They have an instinctual need to do their business in sand or dirt, so usually all you have to do is show them where the litter box is.
The only downside for you? Keeping that litter box clean! You’ll need to scoop the clumps every day, and totally change out the litter roughly once a week.
Potty training your puppy is a whole different story that requires much more effort on the owner’s part. Puppies don’t come with the knowledge that going potty indoors is bad—this is a behavior you’ll need to train out. Two of the most common methods for house training a puppy are crate training and paper training. Whichever method you go with, be prepared to exercise a lot of patience!
Just like with potty training, cats are fairly independent when it comes to cleaning themselves. You may notice that your kitten spends a good portion of each day licking its fur. For some reason, felines are pretty particular about staying clean! That’s good news for pet owners. If they live indoors, you can get away with bathing your cat once or twice a year. Aside from that and regular brushing, kittens don’t need much in the way of grooming.
Keeping your puppy clean is a much different story! They don’t have the “clean” instinct that cats seem to be born with. Most dogs aren’t bothered by matted or muddy fur. That means you’ll need to put forth much more effort to keep your dog clean. You’ll need to bathe them often—anywhere from twice a month to every few months, depending on the breed and how much time they spend outside. And your dog will need regular brushing as well, especially if they have long hair.
Cats are nocturnal by nature, so don’t be surprised to find your new kitten full of energy and ready to play in the middle of the night! Many cat owners are used to a ball of fur pouncing on their feet or face while they’re snoozing. If you’re a night owl, a kitten might be the pet for you!
A puppy, on the other hand, will most likely sleep at the same time you do (and then some). They’re most active during the day, so it’s usually pretty easy to get your pup to sleep through the night.
Regardless of when they sleep, you can expect a lot of ZZZs from both animals. Even when they’ve reached a few months old, both puppies and kittens sleep anywhere from 15-20 hours a day. Don’t be worried if you find them snoozing more often than not.
A cat will certainly play with you, especially when they’re young. Kittens love chasing toys and will probably paw a ball back and forth with you. Cats are extremely agile and most are great jumpers and climbers. Just set up a cat tower to watch your kitten in action!
But if you’re looking for an exercise buddy, a puppy might be the pet for you. Dogs are more athletic—some breeds more than others—and they make great companions when hiking or running. At the very least, most dogs need to be walked on a daily basis. As a puppy, you may even find yourself taking them on multiple walks a day. If you’re looking for a reason to be more active, a puppy might be just the motivation you need.
Keeping them healthy
Whether you get a puppy or a kitten, regular vet visits are a must. These visits will be more frequent when they’re young as they receive all of their required vaccinations. Once they reach adult age, you’ll need to make a trip to the vet once or twice each year for a general wellness check. The vet will assess your pet’s growth and development and look out for any health issues.
Regular vet visits are important for a number of reasons, but parasite prevention tops the list. Your vet can help you choose the best flea and tick medication for your puppy or kitten. Proper grooming isn’t enough to keep those pests at bay! If you know anything about the life cycle of fleas, you know that preventative medication is the only way to truly protect your pet.
Choosing the perfect companion
Deciding whether to add a puppy or a kitten to the family is no easy task. There are clear benefits and rewards to raising both animals. Ultimately, the “puppy vs. kitten” argument comes down to your lifestyle and personal preference.
If you’re gone for large chunks of the day and need a pet that’s more low-maintenance, a kitten is the obvious choice. They’re self-sufficient, naturally potty trained, and can clean and entertain themselves (for the most part).
If you’re looking for a more active companion, consider getting a puppy. Raising a dog is much more work in a lot of aspects and requires a great deal of time and patience. But you’re guaranteed to be rewarded with the friendship of a lifetime.
Either way, both kittens and puppies are known to make great companions. Still can’t decide? There’s no law saying you can’t have one of each! (Unless you live in an apartment with a one-pet limit, of course.) Add a dog and a cat to your family to enjoy twice the cuddles, twice the playtime, and twice the love.
David Cruz is a guest author and has been a freelance writer for five years. He owns a 1 year-old Samoyed, Bosco, who has joined him and his partner while they travel the country. When David and Bosco aren't road tripping or hiking, you can find them on the golf course or taking a nap.