5 Big Differences Between Cats and Dogs

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Although cats and dogs are the most popular pets, there are some major differences between the two species, and understanding them will prepare you to be a great guardian to your canine or feline companion.

Diet and Nutrition

One of the biggest differences between cats and dogs is how they eat and what nutrients they need to acquire from their food. Felines are obligate carnivores, which means they must consume animal protein (i.e. meat) in order to survive and to thrive. On the other hand, canines definitely prefer a carnivorous diet, but they are better equipped to scavenge for food and can, therefore, digest and reap the benefits of plant material better than cats can. Dogs can actually survive solely on plant material, if necessary. This is why it is important to take precautions before putting your dog on a vegan diet, and most vets advise against putting a cat on a vegan diet.

Related: Can Your Cat Be A Vegetarian?

Canines are also able to survive longer periods of time without food, thanks to their ability to burn fat reserves for energy. Felines, on the other hand, will end up using non-fatty tissues to get the energy they need when they are not consuming enough food, and this can lead to life-threatening hepatic lipidosis.


A cat’s claws will remain sharp, and grow sharp again and again between trimmings, because they retract and become hidden. On the other hand, a dog’s claws are always extended. This keeps them blunt because they are always getting worn down through continual contact with the ground with every step. Nevertheless, it is important to check your dog’s claws and trim them whenever necessary to ensure his gait is normal and the claws won’t get so long that they are at a greater risk of breaking and becoming infected.

Related: Declawing Cats: A Cruel and Unnecessary Procedure


Many dogs are ready and willing to be trained, and they can pick up on basic commands rather quickly. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes to train a dog to “sit,” for example. Therefore, canines are easier to train than felines, as their goal is to please their owners. Cats, on the other hand, are almost impossible to train. It takes a lot more time, patience, and dedication to train a cat to do tricks like a dog, as they do not readily respond to commands.

However, if cats are given access to a clean litter box, they will automatically know where to go to the bathroom instinctually, without needing to be trained. But if you have a dog, you will need to dedicate quite a bit of time to housetraining him so that he does not go to the bathroom inside the house.

Fight versus Flight

Cats can run quickly, climb, and jump high to get away from a potential predator. They know that, even though they are predators, they can also be prey, so their bodies are equipped to get away fast. And these same quick reflexes also make them agile hunters. But dogs, who are unable to climb, are more reliant upon their packs to take down prey and they are more likely to stand their ground and become aggressive in order to defend themselves against an attacker because they are not able to get away as easily as cats. Also, dogs are long distance runners, while cats are sprinters, which is why cats have to use more stealth during their attacks on their prey while dogs can use their endurance to exhaust an animal before taking it down.

Social Life

It should come as no surprise that dogs are more sociable than cats and they prefer to be in crowds of people, thanks to their pack mentality. Cats tend to be more solitary and tend to become more attached to their territory than the other inhabitants within it. However, any cat owner will tell you that cats can become very attached to their owners and to other felines or pets in the family, which is why they make great companions just like dogs do.