The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Madison, a cat at the Humane Society of Greater Nashua. Courtesy photo.

The cat vs. dog saga
Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or both?

By Kelly Sennott

If you’re not a designated “cat” or “dog” person, it can be difficult to decide which to add to your family.

It’s always best to physically meet potential candidates before making the commitment, says Humane Society of Greater Nashua adoption counselor Brittany Foley, but almost just as pressing are your lifestyle, residential and financial situations. Maybe before labeling yourself  “for” one or the other, ask yourself these questions: What do you want in a pet? And what do you have the money, time and space for?
Time and money
The day before her phone interview, Foley said, the Humane Society saw a family come in that was looking for a dog but left with two cats.
“They were looking for a companion, an addition to their household, but they’ve never been pet-owners before,” Foley said.
When pet-owners choose cats over dogs, it’s often because of felines tend to require less — i.e., less work and money.
“[Fewer] immunizations are needed, you don’t need to license them [and] they eat less too,” said Joyce Hegarty, also an adoption counselor for the Humane Society for Greater Nashua. “Typically, you’ll also give dogs baths while the majority of people just let cats self-groom.”
Also consider whether you travel a lot or are regularly away from home.
“You can leave cats alone overnight. … They’ll use litter boxes. A dog you’ll need to let out,” Hegarty said. 
And for the most part, cats are better at managing food intake. If you’re leaving for the night, just leave an extra bowl of food and water. Dogs are typically not so self-disciplined, and they don’t fare as well being cooped up inside.
“[Dogs] need to go for walks, or to run around and release some of their energy,” Foley said.
If you work full-time and can’t get home, you might need to pay someone to let your dog out or bring it to doggie daycare. Dogs also tend to need more training, which can be time-intensive and expensive. Once cats are litter-box trained, they typically don’t need much behavioral training — they don’t need bark collars or to learn not to jump up on people. On the other hand, cats have been known to destroy furniture with their claws.
Living space
You also need to consider your living environment. Is it a rural area where an indoor/outdoor cat could roam around, or are you in a city apartment with strict animal-leash rules? 
“If you’re looking to get a large-breed dog, it’s doable as long as your apartment complies with that. … For a lot of dogs, if they don’t get the release, it can result in them being destructive in the home,” Foley said.
If you’re the kind of homeowner who keeps a meticulous home, keep in mind that cats and dogs shed. The bigger the animal, for the most part, the more hair there is.
And while you shouldn’t get a cat strictly for rodent-control, it could be a perk (or con, if you don’t like finding dead mice on your doorstep).
“That shouldn’t be your main reason for adopting a cat. Some of them will certainly help with [rodent-control], but sometimes you’ll get a cat that will just watch a mouse go by and not exterminate for you,” Hegarty said.
Each animal’s personality is distinct and should be treated as such.
“[Personalities] don’t always depend on breed. We get in dogs who have been surrendered to us because they don’t get along with children, and that can be of any number of breeds,” Foley said. 
In her experience, Foley thinks cats are more independent. While dogs are more work, they’re also extremely loyal and right by your side. Hegarty agrees.
“Dogs, I find, give you such devotion all the time. You call their name and they come. Cats [generally] are more aloof, while a dog’s always there,” Hegarty said. 
Of course, exceptions exist everywhere.
“There are also cats that want to be right next to you, and there are dogs that want to be completely independent,” Foley said. 
As seen in the February 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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