The Difference Between Raising Kittens & Puppies

At first glance, those roly-poly balls of love known as kittens and puppies seem very similar. But, as your furbabies grow, you'll experience some critical differences, especially in behavior, grooming and potty training.

Behavior

Cats and dogs are different: It's part of our everyday language. People "fight like cats and dogs" and are "cat people" or "dog people." What this comes down to is basic behavioral differences programmed by millions of years of evolution. Dogs are social animals. In nature, they are pack hunters with a strict pecking order and complex, lifelong relationships that include labor specialization and sharing. In short, their lifestyles are very similar to primates' (that's us). Cats are small, solitary predators. They aggregate (form groups to defend a common territory or for mutual protection), but do not usually hunt or eat together like dogs. Their primary relationships are between mothers and young. What this means for you is puppies are highly trainable and view you as a member (hopefully the alpha!) of their pack, while kittens view you as a protector and a resource, but will not necessarily care very much about pleasing you. As they grow up, puppies will vigorously defend your home with barks and try to greet people with jumps and rude sniffing, while most kittens will respond to interlopers by hiding. FYI, when training your kitten or puppy, their natural hunting style is key. Dogs follow prey for hours: They will work for food, even if they are not immediately rewarded or can't see the treat. Cats are ambush predators: They do not look away from prey, ever. They need to see the treat to work for it.

Grooming

Your puppy will require frequent brushing and, depending on the breed -- and the amount your pup likes to roll in stinky stuff -- regular baths. Nail trimming may also be in your future. Long-haired kittens require grooming, but many cat owners go their entire lives without ever giving their fastidiously self-cleaning best friends a single bath or grooming session. Cat nails require few manicures, as most split and slough off when they are ready without any help from you (though it may be murder on your furniture).

Morning Pups vs. Night Kitties

Puppies are diurnal and happy to play all day and sleep through the night. Kittens are nocturnal: They naturally sleep up to 20 hours a day, but expect them to party all night long.

Potty Talk

Potty training will be at the front of your mind after bringing your new baby home. Good news for kitten parents -- give your new pal a litter box, and using it comes naturally. Sorry, puppy parents -- you may face many months of diligent effort to convince your new charge to potty only in the great outdoors.

Vet Care

Vaccination schedules and basic vet care are similar for puppies and kittens, the difference is type. Both should have a rabies vaccine. Puppies also get DHPP, while kitties get FVRCP and FELV.

 

About the Author

Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.