Cats are not just small dogs: How they are different
Cats are not small dogs. It is important for owners to understand the difference between cats and dogs so that they can provide their pet with everything they need to be a happy and well-adjusted member of the family.
Cats are solitary hunters. They can live independently and be self-sufficient. They do not need to depend on others for survival, and this can make them instinctively territorial. Dogs on the other hand are pack animals. In the wild they live in hierarchical social groups and depend on cooperation and social signals to hunt and survive.
These differences mean that whereas cats are often content to be left alone for long periods of time, dogs crave company and attention. It also means that dogs can be easier to train as dogs are more predisposed to follow a leader and are therefore more obedient. However, there are always exceptions to this rule! When it comes to toilet training cats have the advantage as they will instinctively use their litter box whereas dogs need a lot of positive reinforcement before they get the idea.
- Dietary needs
Cats are obligate carnivores and need more frequent smaller meals than dogs. They rely on high protein meat as their main source of energy. Dogs are omnivores and can be sustained by both meat and plants. Their digestive process is able to cope with less frequent but larger meals than cats. Difference in the metabolism of dogs and cats also means that some medications which are safe for dogs can be extremely toxic to cats.
- Physical attributes
Cats are small, agile and graceful creatures. Their lean muscles allow them to climb and jump easily to stalk and pounce on prey and their retractable claws are kept sharp and lethal. Dogs are more like endurance athletes, they rely on being able to out run their prey over longer periods of time and their claws are constantly worn down as they walk.
Dogs need outdoor exercise to keep them physically fit and stimulated, whereas cats generally need less space to roam as long as they can get their exercise through play with their owners.
Of course there are many other factors that will influence an individual pet’s temperament such as their genetics, breed and history and these factors can contribute to big variations in the sociability and friendliness of our pets. It is these differences that make our pets special and unique and the bond we have with our pets can be equally strong whether we have a cat or a dog (or both!).