Difference between Cats and Dogs

Owning a pet may sometimes prove to be difficult, but most people believe it’s worth it. Not only do pets look cute and cuddly, but they also provide companionship. Moreover, studies show that owning a pet can make a person healthier and more responsible. There are ways to lessen the burden, and you can start by learning the differences between the two of the most favored pets, the cat and the dog.



Cats vs Dogs
A kitten instinctively pouncing at a target

Also known as house cats, they are typically small, furry carnivorous mammals. They are seen as a valuable human companion, partly due to their ability to hunt pests such as mice that could potentially spread diseases. Same as other felids (the cat family), they have a strong, flexible body with quick reflexes and retractable claws. They also have teeth that are capable of killing small prey. They are well known for their so-called ‘cat senses’ (having acute sight, hearing and an enhanced sense of touch) that allows them to be highly efficient predators. Despite being solitary hunters, they are considered as a ‘social species’ which generally means they interact highly with other animals.

Being the smaller member of the genus Felids, cats usually average 23 to 25 cm (9 to 10 in) in height, 46 cm (18 in) in length, and 3 to 4 kg (7 to 9 lbs.) in weight. Unlike most mammals, cats have unusual eye sockets that appear to be very large. As a pet owner, you should also note that cats are carnivorous. Feeding them with plant matter will give them difficulty in digestion. If you’re wondering why cats move unhindered at night, that’s because their eyes have the so-called ‘tapetum lucidum’ (a layer of tissue in a cat’s eye) that reflects any light that passes through their retina back into their eyes, giving them excellent night vision.

Life expectancy: 12 to 25 years


A dog guarding the flock

Considered to be the oldest domesticated animal, dogs are typically furry, carnivorous mammals. The term ‘dog’ comes from Middle English ‘dogge’ which means a ‘powerful dog breed’. They belong to the family called ‘Canidae’ which includes coyotes, foxes, and wolves. Having been bred for millennia for various behaviors, physical attributes, and sensory capabilities, dogs perform many roles such as herding, protection, assisting police, hunting, pulling loads, aiding handicapped individuals, and of course companionship. With all these kinds of help, society has given them the nickname ‘man’s best friend,’ especially in the Western world. Unlike cats, dogs are pack animals and generally affectionate.

In the matter of sizes, it is mostly dependent on breed. The smallest known adult dog is said to be the Yorkshire terrier that only stands at 6.3 cm (2.5 in) shoulder height, 9.5 cm (3.7 in) in length, and weight for only about 113 grams (4 oz). The largest known dog, on the other hand, the English Mastiff, measures 250 cm (98 in) in length, and weighs 155.6 kg (343 lb). The distinction of being the tallest dog, however, goes to the Great Dane that can stand at 106.7 cm (42 in) at the shoulder. Coats also differ according to breeds, the single-coated and double-coated. Dogs originating from colder climates tend to have double coats that are made up of a soft down hair and a coarse guard hair. As a pet owner, you should also know that all-meat diets are not recommended for dogs due to their lack of calcium and iron. Dogs will healthily digest a variety of foods including grains and vegetables.

Life expectancy: 7 to 20 years

Cats vs Dogs

What’s the difference between cats and dogs? While they both are favored pets, they do differ in a lot of ways that could mean the comfort or discomfort of an owner.

Starting with their behavior, one must consider their natural environment. Cats are accustomed to being solitary hunters and thus are in no need of a leader. Dogs, however, are pack animals and are adaptable to changes in their environment with the presence of their packs. This would also be the reason why dogs are much easier to train than cats, because of their innate pack mentality. Also, if you are wondering why dogs often seek the attention of their owners, it’s because they see their owners as their pack leader.

In terms of their physicality, cats are agile and will usually have an instinctive desire to stalk, and to pounce, once close to their prey. Their capability for stealth and silence is due to their lean muscles meant for leaping, and their lithe build. Dogs on the other hand are built more for endurance and speed. Unlike cats, they run down their prey instead of using stealth.

As far as their diet is concerned, cats are strictly carnivores. Over the centuries, they relied on the high protein of a meat-packed meal to be at their peak performance. They also eat more frequently, unlike their canine counterparts. Dogs, however, are able to sustain a plant-based diet. They are omnivores just like us, but would certainly prefer the protein of a piece of meat.

Finally, since we’re talking about pets, cats are often difficult to train except in using their litter box which is considered to be an instinct. Dogs on the other hand are easily trained in the hands of a professional. But this doesn’t mean a dog is a better pet; it will mostly depend on the breed and your lifestyle. Take note, dogs require more of your time since they do not want to be left alone and require regular walks, unlike cats.

Comparison Chart

Cats Dogs
Family Felidae Family Canidae
Carnivore Omnivore
Life expectancy of 12 to 25 years Life expectancy of 7 to 20 years
Does not require frequent attention Requires frequent attention
Seldom protect owners Often protect owners
Annual cost estimated at $450 Annual cost estimated at $660
Are generally lazy Depends on breed (Most are active)
Difficult to train Easy to train
Solitary Pack animal
Less affectionate More affectionate
Requires less space Often requires a lot of space


Here are some interesting cats and dogs video comparisons.