Dog or Cat: Which Pet Is Right for You?

Dog and cat

Pet peeved: “Booooring! Nobody wants to read Marmaduke. Just turn to Garfield already!” (Geoff Livingston via Flickr)

I’m one of the professed few (?) who seem to like dogs and cats pretty equally, accepting them both for their strong and weak points. I like the devotion and energy of the dog, but at times I’m more in tune with the independence and occasional affection of felines.

But mostly, given my living circumstances, and the fact I’m lazy, I have a cat (I grew up with a sweet Labrador retriever though). They’re both fantastic animals for the apartment renter to have.

Today we’ll help you decide which four-legged critter you want to share your abode with, along with some links to area agencies in the metro region to help you to do just that.

1.      Are you generally a private person who needs their space?

The pet for you would be: a cat. While some felines can be needy, compared to their canine counterparts, they’re veritable monks. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like a little loving now and then. After some affection, my cat skips off with a whimsical little happy hop to go to her food bowl. But she may or may not come back that hour – maybe even that day, unlike a dog, who can be an omnipresent attention hound. We won’t get into her whip-quick mood swings, which can entail scratching with razor-sharp claws or biting with pointy teeth apropos of seemingly nothing. Oh yeah, that’s right, I love my cat. I forgot!

[ Related: Alexandria Leaves Dog Owners Howling with Delight ]

2.      Are you full of energy, a person who likes the outdoors and loves exploring the neighborhood on foot?

The pet for you would be: a dog. Different breeds have different energy levels, and like all creatures, individual dogs will have different personalities and exercise needs. But unlike cats, dogs do need to go outside, both to do their business and for exercise. (Cats love it out there just as much, but depending on where you live, it can be a risk).

Most apartment renters don’t have a yard, much less a huge fenced-in kind, so get the leash ready. If you’re a bookworm, are exceptionally lazy, overly agoraphobic or otherwise can’t be bothered, don’t get a dog; get a cat. Dogs evolved from wolves, who famously live in packs. Now, you and your family are its pack. Be a good leader.

3.      Do you travel a lot for work or pleasure?

The pet for you would be: a cat. Cats pretty much take care of and amuse themselves. They seem to inhabit a world of their own sometimes-invisible adventure. If you leave them enough dry food and water, they’ll generally be able to survive a relatively short separation just fine. But be sure your cat isn’t a tipper, one who tips their water bowl over for who knows what reason before drinking. If you have such a cat and plan on being away for a few days, make sure your furry fury has one of these untippable water bowls. Believe me, your would-be parched cat will thank you.

[ Related: Woodley Park: Lions, Tigers and Bears! Oh, My! ]

4.      Are you emotionally needy?

The pet for you would be: a dog. Dogs, for all their tail-wagging charm and loyalty, can be needy animals, requiring more affection and affirmation than Stuart Smalley on a blue Monday. But they give that TLC right back. Believe me, if you’re emotionally high maintenance, need an excess of attention, love and adoration, most dogs will be there to give it to you. Go on, you’re perfect for each other!

5.      Do you live in a dicey area?

The pet for you would be: a dog. Unless your feline is a tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard or mountain lion, he’s not really apt to deter a would-be burglar or ruffian set to do you harm. And no, do not, for the love of God, seek out an exotic animal breeder and get one of these magnificent creatures. Aside from legal issues, Aslan the lion or Czar the tiger may end up attacking the wrong person at some point, solely out of misfired instinct: You!

Yes, despite being maybe nature’s perfect hunter and possessing a demented, sociopathic side, cats aren’t exactly known for their aggressive defense of their owners, and being slight animals, they wouldn’t be much help if they did, either. I take that back; if you could train one to go ballistic like they’re capable of, say, at the veterinarian, a faint-hearted thief might think twice … but beyond the litter box, good luck training them to do anything.

Dogs however, even small ones, will literally die for you … some of them, anyway. Now, I’m not suggesting moving to a bad area (but sometimes finances have the last word on that), or even getting a German Shepherd, pit bull or Rottweiler just for protection if you don’t meet the criteria I’ve outlined above as a would-be dog owner, but having a loyal, 100-pound stick of dynamite with powerful jaws cannot be a bad thing if your neighborhood has a criminal element (or even if you live near a bad area. Bad people won’t let a few streets distance stop them from doing you harm). Trust me, no one wants to deal with an enraged Doberman protecting the home and hearth. Just the vicious barking alone is a goodly deterrent.

Dogs really are a special breed of animal, no?

Here are some great animal adoption agencies we’ve written about on the site. Please, adopt a new friend from one of these organizations.

Find your next pet friendly apartment in the area with Apartment Showcase. 

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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