Most people would describe themselves as either a ‘dog person’ or a ‘cat person’. I used to be a ‘cat person’, but now, I’m both! And most people who own a cat or a dog could tell you the real and perceived differences between the species – knowledge often gained from cartoons and lists shared on social media. Well I am here to tell you that most of those ‘perceived’ differences are actually true! So here are is what I have observed to be the most obvious differences between cats and dogs, from my scientific (ahem..) observations of Coco and Sadie (our cats) and Ivy (our dog)!
Dogs and cats show their emotions in very different ways. In fact, to be honest, cats don’t show much emotion in an obvious way at all. I know when Sadie and Coco are happy and content by their loud purrs when they come for a cuddle. I can also guess they are happy when they are stretched out blissfully in a sunny patch. But that’s about it. Their inscrutable stares don’t give much away. Dogs are different. Dogs put it all out there! Every morning when I come downstairs, Ivy greets me as if I have been away for a year! She jumps up and down, tail wagging frantically – her enthusiasm makes me feel like a superstar! She rolls over for tummy tickles, scampers after balls and barks with excitement at anything that moves. She even makes little satisfied noises when she’s asleep or when we give her a cuddle. Ivy is pretty much permanently happy, except when we leave the room, when she then lets us know her displeasure by continuous barking.
2. Unconditional love
Dogs love their humans. Unconditionally. They love you if you are happy. They love you if you are sad. They love you when you are a bit cross with them. They love you when you are asleep. They love you when you are awake. They just LOVE you SO much! Ivy loves me so much she even growled at my husband this morning when he tried to kiss me goodbye! Cats? Well, they do show their love, but they also show their displeasure. And it doesn’t take much. If they are on your lap and you so much as sneeze.. whoosh! They are gone! They love you when you are doing exactly what they want to you to do and the way they want you to do it. Otherwise, they are having none of it! Sadie will ‘accept’ my attentions and even enjoy it, but one wrong move, one stroke of her fur in the wrong direction.. game over!
3. Personal hygiene
Ivy loves mud. She also loves rubbish – discarded wrappers, half a sandwich, an orange peel, a squashed banana.. but most of all she loves mud. She will dig holes and then dash through soggy muddy puddles and rub her whole face in it just for good measure and to ensure maximum coverage. If she had her choice, life would be one great big mud bath! And when she is done, she feels no need to clean off the mud. One of her favourite pastimes is doing the pre-wash in our dishwasher. Open the door and she’s in, licking the plates and saucepans, cups and saucers, knives and forks. On New Year’s Eve we had sticky toffee pudding. It has taken me a week to get the toffee out of her fringe, because she didn’t seem bothered by it at all! Coco and Sadie however are fastidious with their cleanliness. They can spend hours licking and washing and preening themselves. One hair out of place or one bit of dust or moisture heralds thorough all over ablutions!
4. Licks for their humans
Dog’s tongue smooth as silk. Cat’s tongue rough as sandpaper. That is all!
5. Toilet habits
In the same way that cats are fastidious about their cleanliness, so they are equally careful with their toilet habits. I don’t think I have ever actually seen a Coco or Sadie poo (sorry neighbours!). But I am sure they are very careful to relieve themselves in a flower bed and bury the evidence immediately. And God forbid you ever catch them in action. Awkward! Our dog Ivy? Well, anything goes. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go and your human will pick up after you, so why bury it?
Dogs love to be trained. It keeps their brains active and they are every eager to please. And if there is a tasty reward at the end of it, all the better. However, training dogs can take time, since we don’t speak Dog and they don’t speak Human. However, eventually they get the hang of what every you are trying to teach them if you do it right. Cat’s on the other hand do what they want! It’s easy to think that you have trained your new kitten to use their litter tray, but they only use it because they want to and you have shown them where it is!
I love Ivy and she loves me. But while I can cope if she goes into another room without me, Ivy does not feel the same. The minute I stand up, so does she. I imagine the word ‘Whats up?’ racing through her head when she hears my chair scrape back. And as I begin to climb the stairs, so I hear the pitter patter of her little feet as she follows me like a.. well, like a dog! Ivy is my little shadow, following me wherever I go. Coco and Sadie on the other hand consider themselves to be free agents. They have a cat flap and come and go as they please. Generally I don’t see much of them during the day, but come evening they will grace us with their presence.. or not!
And there you have it. My definitive, although not exhaustive guide to the difference between cats and dogs.