7 top differences between cats and dogs

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)!

1. Emotions

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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

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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

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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

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Dog’s tongue smooth as silk. Cat’s tongue rough as sandpaper. That is all!

5. Toilet habits

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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?

6. Training

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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!

7. Independence

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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.

Toilet training your new puppy!

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Toilet training will be the first bit of ‘training’ you do with your new pup. If you have cats you’ll know how easy it is with kittens. In fact normally by the end of their first day home they know where their litter tray is and how to use it. Of course there are occasional accidents, but it’s pretty much a doddle.

Dogs are another kettle of fish! The only place puppies really know not to pee, is their bed or anywhere they sleep. Everywhere else is fair game. What’s more, they can’t hold their bladder and bowels for very long and will pretty much need to go the minute they have a drink or something to eat and every 20 minutes or so in between!

The key to toilet training is learning the signals that your puppy needs to go and putting them outside quickly. But also putting them outside every half an hour even if they don’t show you those signals, just in case! So you pretty much need eyes in the back of your head to make sure you are on it!

Sounds easy right? Nope. Your new puppy will have lots of accidents in those first few weeks. And it’s important to remember that word, ‘accident’, because you it’s the only way you will temper the frustration when you think you’ve nailed it and then step in a little gift left for you! Toilet training takes time and patience, and when these accidents occur it’s important not to reprimand your puppy – they didn’t do it on purpose.

The flip side is praise, and lots of it. Every poo and wee they do outside should be met with a fanfare of praise and even a treat! But one of the best pieces of advice I received was not just to praise after the event. While they are peeing or pooing, have a phrase you intend to use in future when you let them outside and want them to do their business. Ours is ‘Go potty!’ which we said repeatedly while she squatted to pee. She now knows when we open the door and say ‘Go potty!’ that it’s time to ‘go’! It can be any phrase, but whatever you choose, be consistent and repeat it until they have stopped peeing or pooing and then follow with praise.

“Go potty!”

So now let’s talk about puppy training pads. We started using these as we had been advised to by quite a few dog owners. The idea is that you put the pad on the floor and train your puppy to go on the pad to avoid the mess. But here’s the issue (which, once explained to me, made perfect sense): if you want your puppy to pee outside, why are you training it to pee inside on a mat? Good question, right? It’s only going to prolong what for some new owners is already a long process. So, my advice would be not to use puppy training pads.

Next up, night time toilet trips. As mentioned before, puppies cannot hold their bladders for very long, so you will need to get up in the night to begin with to let them out to pee. We found that Ivy could hold for much longer at night, so the 20 minute rule does not apply at night. Within a week Ivy was sleeping through, however this does not mean the frequency during the day got less. I am not sure why that is, although puppies do hate to make a mess in their bed more than anything. And we found that crate-training was what nailed the night time bladder control. If she had been able to wonder round, she would have had accidents. But because she was all cosy in her crate, she didn’t.

So the secret is consistency, patience and taking ownership of the process. Potty training is your job, not your puppy’s. You need to realise it will take time for this little bundle of fluff to understand that his or her human wants him to go to the bathroom outside rather than inside. And it will take you time to recognise the signals that tell you your puppy needs to go.

So, what are those signals? When Ivy needs to pee, she starts turning in circles and when she needs to poo, she sniffs the floor while walking around. If you see your pup doing either of these things, pick them up and take them outside. When you take your puppy outside, again, you need to be patient… and boring! Puppy will instantly forget it needed to pee when faced with all those fabulous smells and sounds and the expectation that you are going to play with them! So stand still, don’t speak and wait. When she starts to go, you start saying your chosen phrase, ‘Go potty! Go potty! Go potty’ (seriously, you don’t need to say that particular one, it just makes us laugh for some reason!) And then when she has gone, lots of praise.

You will hear tales of some puppies being trained by 9 weeks. Don’t listen. Yes, it can be done, but very few people manage it that quickly. Every puppy is different and some take longer than others. Ivy was getting the hang of it by 22 weeks, but unusual circumstances or forgetfulness on our part still results in the occasional accident.

One aspect of toilet training that isn’t often discussed is the ‘clean up’. It’s really important to clean up thoroughly when your puppy has an accident. Puppy wee doesn’t really smell strong to humans, but to your puppy, even the tiniest residue will mark a spot where they will look to wee again. So, make sure you find a good cleaning solution to get rid of the scent of wee or poo.

And on that sweet note… we would love to hear of any top tips you have learned through your experience with toilet training, so feel free to leave a comment below!