This is the first in a new series, taking a (slightly tongue in cheek!) look at different pets – their advantages and disadvantages to us, but also their needs and requirements. We asked one of our vet bloggers, Liz, to start us off with perhaps the pet oldest question of all… – Ed.

A new take on an ancient question: dog or cat? Cat or Dog? In my opinion, the answer is always the same. That is, ‘dogs because I’m a dog person, and practical factors be blown.’ But if you try to answer this question objectively, then what are the important factors?


(Of course, as this blog is going out during the coronavirus pandemic, we have to factor this in! – Ed.)

Ordinarily, the risk of getting or making people ill would carry a lot of weight here. The risks to people from the different types of pet however, are unknown and probably low. David Harris has written about the risks here. For double safety, perhaps be careful if there’s someone particularly vulnerable in your home, but this is more about each different owner and their pet and not about them being different species.

Cat owners endure an extra hazard at this time, however: if a cat doesn’t come home, then you’re not supposed to spend so much time out combing the streets. Dogs in the UK nowadays don’t wander alone, so this is a cat issue only. 


One of the biggest differences between owning a dog and a cat is that dogs need a person to walk them. The effect of the exercise restrictions depends on how much exercise the animal and owner got in the first place – some will walk more at this time than they ever have before, but some of them fewer. As to whether this is a good thing or not, it probably depends on the personality of the owner. I would be only too happy to spend my exercise time every day with a dog. However, some owners might have been hoping to exercise outside in some other way during their rationed time. Perhaps they were planning to run faster than a dog can keep up. In this event, the need to walk a dog (and only exercise once) might stop them from doing that. Luckily, if I know dog owners, most of them will put their dogs’ needs first. 

Obviously, the 2m rule is more difficult when you have a dog on the lead, so the presence of a dog might affect their choice of walk. Again, this depends on the dog and the owner: it will never be the same for everyone. 


Finally, we have the cuddling factor that must be considered. Both dogs and cats are excellent to cuddle in times of stress. But of course dogs and cats are all individuals, just like us. Some want to curl up on your knee in front of the TV in an evening ….. and some don’t, whatever their species. And some people want their pet to sit on their knee, and others would rather they sat by themselves. In fact:


I think it’s highly probable that if you’re a dog person, you’re a dog person and if you’re a cat-person you’re a cat one, whether there happens to be a global pandemic or not. I think the main difference between the two of them is the walking. I would happily trade worrying about a roaming cat for the pleasure of walking with a dog at this time, but i’m aware that I’m a dog person and that everybody is different!