Cats vs. Dogs as Pets

                                                                                               By Brad Bell

        One important question is, what are the differences between cats vs. dogs as pets?  There seems to be some obvious differences between cats and dogs as pets.  For example, dogs will often be taken for walks, but it may be unlikely that cats would be taken for walks.  Dogs may chase after a ball, and cats may not.  There may be more training for dogs than cats.  There seems to be some differences between the behaviors of cats and dogs that suggests that the personality of cats may be different in some ways than the personality of dogs.
        Another important question is whether cats or dogs are better pets.  It seems likely that dog owners and cat owners would have different answers to this question.   Dog owners may be able to provide a number of reasons for why dogs make good pets, and cat owners may be able to provide a number of reasons for why cats make good pets.   Also, there may not be an objective or scientific answer to this question.  In order to make a causal conclusion about whether dogs or cats are better pets, there would have to be no other explanations for perceived differences between dogs vs. cats as pets, and this would require that there is random assignment to being a cat owner versus dog owner.  This does not seem possible.  Because people select their pets, any possible differences between perceptions of cats and dogs as being good pets may reflect differences between cat owners and dog owners, rather than differences between cats and dogs as good pets.
       Nonetheless, because of the popularity of both cats and dogs as pets, it seems reasonable to conclude that both cats and dogs can be very good pets. Moreover, some findings suggest that some cats owners and dog owners have a positive evaluation of their pets.  For example, Fielding (2009) found that 90.2 percent of the participants in the study who were only cat owners felt attached to the pet cat(s), and 78.1 percent of the participants who were only dog owners felt attached to the pet dog(s).  Although this was a statistically significant difference, it should be kept in mind that one cannot make a causal conclusion with respect to the difference in the percentages.  It is not clear whether this difference in percentages reflects a difference in attachment for cats or dogs, or differences between cat owners and dog owners.


Fielding, W. J.  (2009).  A comparison of Bahamian cat and dog caregivers on New Providence.  Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 12, 30-43.