Behavioral Differences in Cats and Dogs

Having both a dog and a cat at home isn’t unusual. They are two creatures that can live in harmony together. Pet owners do the same for both as far as caring for them goes. They provide them with food, shelter, and water. Cats and dogs still share a few obvious differences... and not just their size. Here are five ways having dogs is different from having cats.

differences between cats and dogs

Differences Between Cats and Dogs

1. Food preferences. Cats are strict carnivores. In order to survive, they need some type of meat in their diet. Unlike dogs who are seen as omnivores. Omnivores can survive off a diet that is plant-based. Although dogs are able to survive off a plant-based diet, that doesn’t mean they will necessarily thrive. Pet owners should base their cat and dog’s diet on their specific pets needs. Your veterinarian will be able to help you find the best dog and cat food.

2. Companionship and socialization. Dogs are pack animals. Regardless of where they are, they enjoy being around their pack. A dog’s pack can consist of other dogs and their human family. This is why dogs, in general, do well when it comes to being in different environments. As long as their pack is with them, they do okay.

Cats aren’t too into the social life. Instead they prefer to be alone most of the time. They don’t necessarily need someone to keep them company. Instead, they latch onto what they have chosen as “their territory.” Unlike dogs, cats don’t adjust as fast to environmental changes. Even if their owner is there with them. Cats tend to dislike moving and, consequently, new owners. They are protective of their old space and ways of life and will resist, as much as possible, anything that threatens it. Dogs, on the other hand, go with the pack; this means that where the pack goes, they go. They tend to be more open to change, which is one reason dogs tend to be more obedient than cats.

3. Behavior training. Dog owners become the “pack leader” to a dog. This can be demonstrated through the use of commands such as: come, sit and stay. When reinforced through repetition, these commands will eventually lead to the development of effective communication channels between the dog and owner. Dogs would do almost anything to please their pack leader. Dogs do well when it comes to behavioral training. When done on a consistent basis, canines respond well to verbal cues. It’s not uncommon for a dog to be reward-driven either. Professional dog trainers use dog treats during the training process. Training treats are tiny enough that if you give a few at a time it won’t affect your dog’s weight.

Cats are not easy to train. You may find a cat or two who responds to verbal cues. Mostly cats only respond when their food bag or treat jar is shaken. They are dominant creatures and well, as far as they go, they think you are in their house. Not the other way around. Cats are not concerned when it comes to what you want them to do. They’d rather you just do what they want you to do. Establishing space and boundaries is important. Since cats are territorial, it makes sense for the cat owner to allow their feline friend to claim their space in the new living environment. This space should be respected and not intruded upon if possible.

Physical punishment isn’t okay with either a cat or dog when it comes to behavior training. Dogs may respond to this kind of punishment. But, they aren’t responding out of respect. Instead, they are responding out of fear. Some pet owners wrongly interpret the response and continue the punishment. Since dogs are pack animals used to taking orders, the use of declarative commands can be very useful in curbing a dog's poor behavior. However, as with most things, they should be used sparingly. Dogs also respond well to rewards. Telling a dog to sit and then patting them on the head or rubbing them in the tummy reinforces their connection with good behavior and reward.

Cats, being agile hunters, are able to avoid physical danger quite easily. This makes any form of physical punishment ineffective and most likely detrimental to the relationship. Cat owners need to be creative when it comes to dealing with their poorly behaving cats. If you were to hit your cat for misbehaving, your cat will sense your aggression. Then they will lash your aggression right back at you. Likely acting out more intensely or in other ways.

Be attentive and gentle when disciplining your cat or dog. In the long run, a pet/owner relationship based on love and respect goes a long way.

4. Bathroom habits. Litter boxes and litter is all a cat needs to get started to be potty trained. It's a natural instinct for them. Some may still need a little encouragement. You have the option to buy attractant that you put in your cat’s litter box. Cats are finicky about their litter boxes. It’s recommended that you use two litter boxes per cat. If you have two cats, you will need four litter boxes. The litter box will also need to stay very clean. Being scooped at the least once a day. Preferably twice a day. It should also be in a private area with a quick escape. Cats are easy to spook. They will want a way out of their litter box fast if they get scared. At the same time, they don’t want an audience while they're using the bathroom. Cats enjoy their privacy all the time.

Potty training a dog is much different. You'll need to put in time, consistency, and dedication. Your dog definitely won’t be potty trained overnight. There are plenty of tools on the market now to assist dog owners with potty training. Such as doorbells, inside potty stations, and training guides. Having a dog means they'll need to be let out for frequent potty breaks. It also means that, if there’s no way out you may face some accidents. Thankfully, there are about as many, if not more, pet waste cleaners out on the market as there are dog potty training tools.

5. Exercise routines. Dogs are long-distance runners. Games like fetch are a great way for them to exercise and get their instinctive side out. If you’re looking for a jogging or even running partner, most dogs will be happy to take on the role. Keep in mind that different dog breeds need different exercise routines. You wouldn’t expect a 5-pound Chihuahua to complete the same exercise intensity as a 60-pound German Shepherd. Still, exercising holds the same importance for both breeds. Maintaining your dog’s exercise pattern is important. It isn’t uncommon for a dog to become lazy, eat way too much, and become obese. Obesity in dogs shares almost the same dangers as it does in humans. Including diseases, hygiene problems, and also expensive veterinary bills.

Cats do not run after their prey. They would much rather surprise them. Felines are sprinters. Some may retrieve a crinkly ball for you. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will bring it back to you. Your cat may not even make a move. Cats will go crazy if you wiggle something close enough to them that a quick move is all it takes. Here are some other ideas for playing games with cats.

Whether you own a cat or a dog, the most important thing to remember is that every situation is different. Be attentive and gentle when disciplining your cat or dog. In the long run a pet/owner relationship based on love and respect goes a long way. Consult your veterinarian to find out the best way to meet your pet’s needs. They will be able to help you with a plan based on your pet’s specific needs.