The long debate of whether a cat or dog is the ideal pet continues as it has for centuries but has anyone ever considered the financial impact of one versus the other? We can summarize some of the qualitative measures we know, for example:

Cats Dogs
Pros Pros
·       Self-sufficient

·       Cleanly

·       Potty-trained

·       Great for Halloween (if black)

·       Don’t often beg for food

·       Friendly i.e. “Man’s best friend”

·       Active/Playful

·       Intelligent/Learns tricks

·       Great to dress up in costumes

·       Can be service animals

Cons Cons
·       Sassy/Unfriendly

·       Doesn’t go on walks

·       Doesn’t learn tricks

·       Traditionally aren’t service animals

·       High Maintenance

·       Dirty/Messy

·       Not potty-trained

·       Often beg for food

This still leaves us to consider which is costlier. It is, at least, one quantitative measure to help with the decision-making process. Petco has published some data on this and I have calculated median costs for each item, using their data.

DOG

Item

Cost: Year 1

Annually Total (14 years)
Purchase $500.00 $0.00 $500.00
Food $312.50 $312.50 $4,375.00
Vaccines $85.00 $55.00 $800.00
Vet $220.00 $205.00 $2,885.00
Spay/Neuter $117.50 $0.00 $117.50
Bed $87.50 $7.50 $185.00
Treats $60.00 $37.50 $547.50
Chew bones $85.00 $25.00 $410.00
Bowls $15.00 $1.50 $34.50
Collars $14.00 $1.00 $27.00
Leash $12.50 $1.00 $25.50
Training $232.50 $50.00 $882.50
Fence $750.00 $37.50 $1,237.50
Vitamins $45.00 $5.00 $110.00
Flea Control $110.00 $110.00 $1,540.00
Heartworm $75.00 $75.00 $1,050.00
Shampoo $15.50 $15.50 $217.00
Grooming $200.00 $200.00 $2,800.00
Grooming Tools $129.00 $13.00 $298.00
Dental $20.00 $20.00 $280.00
Stain Cleaner $41.50 $40.00 $561.50
Waste Disposal $25.00 $2.50 $57.50
Training Aids $162.50 $16.50 $377.00
Deworming $18.00 $18.00 $252.00
Boarding $107.50 $107.50 $1,505.00
Crate $95.00 $9.50 $218.50
Car Restraint $50.00 $5.00 $115.00
TOTALS: $3,585.50 $1,371.00 $21,408.50

CAT

Item Cost: 1st Year Annually Total (14 Years)
Purchase Price $375.00 $0.00 $375.00
Food $160.00 $150.00 $2,110.00
Spay/Neuter $125.00 $0.00 $125.00
Litter Box $29.00 $3.00 $68.00
Cat Litter $110.00 $110.00 $1,540.00
Furniture $100.00 $10.00 $230.00
Window Perches $30.00 $3.00 $69.00
Cat Bed $22.50 $2.50 $55.00
Cat Door $37.50 $4.00 $89.50
Cat Carrier $31.50 $0.00 $31.50
Scratching Post $25.00 $3.00 $64.00
Food Bowls $16.00 $2.00 $42.00
Grooming Tools $22.50 $2.00 $48.50
Hair Removing Tape $5.00 $5.00 $70.00
Stain Removers $41.50 $4.50 $100.00
Flea Control $100.00 $55.00 $815.00
Heartworm Prevention $20.00 $20.00 $280.00
Training Aids $85.00 $7.50 $182.50
Vet Bills $175.00 $125.00 $1,800.00
Vaccines $65.00 $22.50 $357.50
Ear/Dental Car $32.50 $3.50 $78.00
Vitamins/Fatty Acids $25.00 $25.00 $350.00
Treats $20.00 $20.00 $280.00
Toys $42.50 $4.50 $101.00
Boarding $112.50 $112.50 $1,575.00
TOTALS: $1,808.00 $694.50 $10,836.50

 

*Note: I did not adjust for inflation

Conclusion:

As most might assume, the costs associated with dogs are significantly higher compared to cats. In fact, it’s about 2x as much to own a dog over a 14-year period. This does also vary depending on how much travel the owner does (boarding), as well as other potential medical issues that arise, and expenditures on toys.

As with everything in life, the cost is only as relevant as the value of what you get. If man’s best friend is worth $21,408.50 in happiness; buy away. For me, I’ll stick with my $10,000 cat and the debate treads on…

 

Resources:

Foster, Dr., and Dr. Smith. “PetCoach – Ask a Vet Online for Free, 24/7.” Ask A Vet Online For Free 24/7 – PetCoach, Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, www.petcoach.co/article/cost-of-owning-a-cat/.

Smith, Dr., and Dr. Foster. “PetCoach – Ask a Vet Online for Free, 24/7.” Ask A Vet Online For Free 24/7 – PetCoach, Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department: Petco , www.petcoach.co/article/cost-of-owning-a-dog/.