The five biggest differences between dogs and cats

The five biggest differences between dogs and cats


Dogs and cats are often viewed as rather like chalk and cheese; so different from each other as to be incomparable in any meaningful sense! While this is in many ways true, cats and dogs have a lot of similarities as well, being that they both make for excellent pets, form strong bonds with their families, and also maintain a reasonable amount of the traits that they display in the wild as well.

However, as anyone who has owned both cats and dogs will tell you, the personalities, preferences and general lifestyles of dogs and cats are very different, despite the fact that some dogs, such as the Pug, have a rather cat-like reputation, and cats such as the Bengal are often considered to act rather like dogs!

In this article, we will look at five of the most noticeable and greatest differences between cats and dogs, which you may not have really considered before! Read on to learn more.

The claws

Cats and dogs both have claws, but the role that they fulfil and how they fit into the respective animals’ anatomy differ considerably! Cats’ claws are retractable, meaning that when your cat is not actively flexing their claws, they remain within the sheaths of the claws on the paw. When your cat walks around, their claws do not come into contact with the ground, which is why cats’ claws grow to a sharp point and can inflict a nasty scratch! This is because cats use their claws as part of grasping and ripping up their prey, while dogs do not do this.

The claws of dogs, on the other hand, are not retractable, and remain in contact with the ground when your dog walks. The claws of dogs get worn down to a comfortable length by walking on hard surfaces, which is why dogs sometimes need their claws trimmed, if they do not regularly walk across the type of surfaces that will wear them down.

Social behaviour

One of the biggest differences between cats and dogs is that dogs are social animals that enjoy the company of others, and will naturally form packs and hierarchical social groups as part of a cooperative to support their chances of survival.

Cats, on the other hand, are more solitary animals that tend to only come together to mate, otherwise sticking to set territories and avoiding unnecessary contact with other, unknown cats.

Hunting and being hunted

Cats are natural predators, but when it comes to getting into hot water with larger animals that may see the cat as potential prey, cats use their flight response to get themselves out of hot water, rather than staying to fight unless they absolutely have to.

The build and conformation of cats is well suited to climbing, leaping and running away at speed, and these fast responses are also what makes them good hunters. Cats are designed for short bursts of high speed rather than endurance, which is why they will sit for a long time waiting for prey to pounce on, conserving their energy and making the prey do most of the work.

Dogs, on the other hand, have much greater stamina than cats, and will often successfully catch prey by pursuing it to exhaustion before going in for the kill. The pack behaviour of dogs also helps with this, and when faced with a potential threat, dogs are much more likely to stand their ground and face up to the threat than run away.

Training and learning

Dogs possess a varied combination of traits including intelligence, the ability to learn quickly, and a willingness to please their handlers, which makes dogs most amenable to training. Dogs are of course much easier to train than cats, and few people are able to effectively train their cats to reliably execute even one command, let alone many!

Cats view every request made of them in terms of “what’s in it for me?” and usually return the answer “not enough!” which means that unless your cat both knows what you want them to do and knows that a high value reward will result from it, you are unlikely to have any success meaningfully training your cat!

However, cats learn other things much faster and without much need for human direction, such as not toileting in the house, using a litter tray, and covering up their own waste, while house training a dog can be one of the most challenging tasks to successfully manage!

Nutritional requirements

When you look at dog or cat food, the food for each species might look very similar, and many people think the make-up of food for cats and dogs is almost the same. However, there are a lot of big differences when you look below the surface!

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they cannot survive without eating meat, while dogs, despite preferring meat over other foods, can actually be vegetarian if needs be!

Cats need taurine in their diets, while dogs do not, and dogs are also able to go for longer in between feeding than cats, while cats need to be able to eat or hunt throughout the day, eating little and often.

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