First, a bit of background on me.
I have NEVER been a fan of cats; up until the age of about 24 I had never wanted a pet cat. I stroked cats, I babysat for cats occasionally, I even volunteered at a cat rescue…but they were not for me, there was never that special bond between me and cats.
Dogs on the other hand, I have ALWAYS loved dogs.
As a child my parents plotted routes to the shops that took me past neighbours that had dogs, and the lady that lived across the street had four dogs and invited me round constantly so I could play with them.
She even took me on holiday when I was 10 to her sister who also had a dog, and most that holiday revolved around meeting her friends that had dogs!!
As soon as I was able to have a dog, I got one: Kasper.
I couldn’t have a dog as a kid as my mum’s terribly allergic to almost every animal on the planet, so as soon as uni was a distant memory and we had our own flat, we adopted a dog. I was 21 and my partner was 20.
Skip ahead five years and here I am with a cat, soon to be two cats.
I’ve had a kitten for three weeks now, and although I never expected to have cats when I was younger, it’s interesting to see how they have become such a *me* pet.
I have bonded intensely with Enzo, and he is perfect in pretty much every way, and also the ease of cat ownership (which is *so* different to dog ownership) helps.
I’m a very hands on pet owner. I always want to provide the best for my pets, and I always do a ton of research into behaviour, care needs, diet, grooming, training etc etc.
This means that, for me, dog ownership is stressful.
I’m not one of those people who can ignore or laugh at their dog for being scared of something, even if it’s just the vacuum, and I’m not one of those people who can slap a choke chain or a prong collar on a dog and yank it whenever the dog misbehaves.
No, I have to research the most effective and the most humane training methods, and I have to study them. I have to weave the methods into every fabric of my being, and I have to try my hardest to help my dogs be the best they can be.
I’m so in-tune and aware of my dogs’ issues / fears that I worry about them constantly.
Will Kasper cut a paw and need vet attention? How will we manage that? Yikes, when was the last time I did muzzle work with him, or practiced him being restrained? Shit, why haven’t I asked our vets about their low stress handling policies yet?
And on and on and on.
Dogs require a lot of effort.
There are the daily walks (our boys get 2-4 walks a day each, separately, of varying lengths), in all weathers.
The training, from basic obedience to manners, and resolving any behavioural issues that pop up.
Not to mention the daily management – Kasper’s resource guarding means things have to be kept out of reach at all times; Raiden getting excited around dogs means we have to always be aware of our surroundings and ready to duck off to the side or do engage-disengage.
Dogs are a huge time commitment, but more than that you have to put so much mental energy into them.
My dogs especially wear their hearts on their sleeves. It is very easy to see how they are feeling almost all the time, so I’m very aware when Kasper is getting anxious or Rey too excited.
Now, cat ownership.
I know Enzo is young, but I think that is why I want to write this so much…because he has been so EASY!
Obviously I can’t help but compare kittenhood to puppyhood, and the difference is staggering…
Kittens are already potty trained – if you’ve never potty trained a puppy, it is HARD WORK, and you’re lucky to have a puppy potty trained before 12 weeks of age.
Kittens are independent. Puppies want to be with you 24/7 and, unless you *really* lucked out, they will let you know how sad they are when apart from you. They need love all the time, they need attention all the time, and they need supervising all the time.
Not so with kittens!
Kittens can be left alone immediately, in fact it’s usually advised they’re left in just one room for the first night, and some places advise against your bedroom so they can get used to being alone from the get go.
Kittens don’t chew through electrics (unless you’re really unlucky!), they can be left unsupervised and alone in a room immediately, and they’re already surprisingly independent.
Of course kittens like fuss, and attention, and play…but it’s bizarre when compared to puppies.
Puppies need socialisation beginning as soon as they get home, and there’s a time limit…they need to learn to love household noises, household items, other pets, animals, people of all ages and abilities, other dogs, farm animals, strangers, the vets, public transport.
The list goes on, and they need to learn all this before about 14 weeks old.
Kittens don’t need to learn to love anything. Sure, it’s great to have people round and show your kitten people = good things…but it’s not as necessary as with dogs.
Of course it’s good to practice handling and fake injections and everything else…but it’s not necessary, it’s not expected. It’s a bonus for you and your cat…but in puppies it’s something you almost *have* to do.
Crate training isn’t a worry. Fear isn’t an issue, because 99.9% of kittens that first come home hide away and are scared, and they bounce back.
Cats seem to do better when scared, and even if a cat bites, it’s not as serious as a dog biting.
Enzo got stuck down the side of the radiator on his first night home, and we laughed about it. If that had happened to a new puppy we’d be devastated and worrying about how that experience might affect him.
Training is something you do with a cat if you want to, but most cat owners don’t.
I enjoy training my dogs, in fact it’s one of my favourite things to do with them…but sometimes it can feel overwhelming, and especially in puppyhood where you have to try and get the most important cues down as quickly as possible.
I’m training Enzo because I *want* to, and there’s no stress or pressure. I’m not teaching recall because I have to, or sit…I’m teaching beg and touch, because they’re fun!
Cats are playful and cuddly, but they do what makes them happy, and they can entertain themselves.
I am incredibly important to Enzo, and I know he loves and needs me…but I’m not the only thing in his world, he can easily cope being alone and can easily entertain himself. He doesn’t rely on me for play or stimulation.
I have been incredibly surprised with the ease and enjoyment of cat ownership.
Enzo is my first cat, and he has a very scary medical condition…yet even despite that, even with all my fears about his health, it has been such a breeze compared to raising a puppy.
It’s less stressful. More laid back. I can take the time to just enjoy him and not have to worry about getting things done so quickly.
I love dogs, and I love puppyhood. I love my boys. But cat ownership is soooo sweet too 🙂
Obviously this is just my thoughts, opinions and experiences with cat and dog ownership, it will differ for everybody! I just thought it was interesting to evaluate.