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Cats vs Dogs: Which Is the Best First Pet for Kids?

Where do you stand on the cats vs. dogs debate?

While some people can’t get enough of cute and cuddly kitties, there’s no denying that dogs have the upper paw when it comes to popularity as pets. Close to 50 million US households have pet dogs, compared to around 32 million households with at least one cat. 

Are you thinking of getting a pet for your family home too? But do cats or dogs make the best first pet for kids? Let’s take a look!


The Advantages of Pet Cats

According to this Pet MD guide, the best first pet for younger kids is a parakeet, while the best small pet is a rat. But there are a lot of advantages to getting a feline friend: 

Small Size

If your family lives in an apartment or condo, an indoor cat might be the better choice. Cats are smaller and cleaner than most dogs. Plus, cats tend to function better in small spaces as they’re less excitable and active than dogs. 

Lower Maintenance

It’s an all too familiar scenario. Your kids beg you for a pet and promise to take care of it, but you’re the one who ends up doing everything. If this sounds like a distinct possibility, the best first pet for your kids likely isn’t a dog. 

You’ll still have to take care of the litter tray and fill the food bowl if you get a cat. But at least you won’t have to take them for walkies or give them baths. 


While cats enjoy love and attention, they are also very independent creatures. If you and your family are often out at work and school all day, your pet cat will be fine doing their own thing until you all come home. 

The Advantages of Pet Dogs

Despite the advantages of pet cats, many people still maintain that a dog makes the best pet for kids. Here are some advantages of getting a pet dog for your child:


For dog lovers, there’s nothing like canine companionship. Dogs are often very loyal and loving, and are sure to become your kid’s best friend in no time. 


Some cats like to play but can soon get bored. Dogs, in contrast, are always up for a game of fetch in the park or for a roll around in the yard. For kids, the fun they can have with their pet dog is a huge draw. 

Teach Responsibility 

Dogs need more from their owners than cats, including regular walks, toilet trips, and baths. But this can be a good thing. For older kids, this is a test of how well they can care for a living creature. Understanding the responsibility that comes with owning a dog is an excellent life lesson for kids. 

Cats vs. Dogs: Which Is the Best First Pet for Kids?

As this quick comparison shows, deciding on the best first pet for your kids can be difficult

While dogs are more of a responsibility, they are a lot of fun for kids to play with. That said, a pet cat might be more suitable if your family lives in a smaller home or has less time to devote to pet care.

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