Source URL: The Vetdr. John De Jong   Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dear Dr. John,

Its almost Christmas and our two children continue to ask for a dog or a cat. Luckily, they are not being too particular. They just want a cute furry animal in the home, and my wife and I feel that we have reached a point in time when we can add a four-legged friend to the family. There are so many options on where to obtain a pet, and we are writing to ask your opinion as to whether we are better off getting a cat or a dog. We also wonder if you have any thoughts as to where we should go to get an animal? With time short, we want to surprise the kids and at the same time make the right choice.



Dear S.C.

That question is tough, because invariably I will potentially frustrate either dog owners or cat owners who read this column. I remember a cartoon called Catdog but in reality this isnt an option so let me suggest ways to help you make your decision.

I have owned both cats and dogs, but they are entirely different creatures. I currently have two dogs. In general, cats require less care and are more independent creatures. No walking is needed, no housebreaking is needed, and one simply needs to put out food, water and a litter box.

Dogs require training, walking and more attention, and in turn often give back more attention.

Both require proper care and veterinary visits for wellness exams and vaccinations. Both species can succumb to all sorts of diseases. Both like toys to play with.

One can leave the home for longer periods of time if cats are in the home, whereas dogs need to be walked or boarded in a facility. There are many doggie day care facilities, but no kitty day cares.

Depending on hair coats, both may need routine grooming at home or professionally.

Unless your children take on the responsibility for care, what are you willing to take on for time commitment to the new pet?

As to where to obtain an animal, I would suggest you start with the shelters since there does not seem to be any specific breed or species sought. With two children at home, I would suggest getting a young animal that they can grow up with, but there are also many mature animals needing homes that can make great pets, so see what there is.

Now that I have not made things necessarily easier for you, go out and make your kids happy! Happy Holidays!