Ask A Vet: Are Cats or Dogs Better For City Life?


Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Q: Cat or Dog? Which makes a better pet for City living?

A: Both cats and dogs make wonderful pets and will bring more joy into your home than you can imagine. Don’t be deterred by your urban setting in considering adding a pet to your life. The decision might have more to do with your lifestyle rather than your address. For me, I love both and I’m lucky because I can bring my dog to work. My dog, Huri, hangs out at work and greets all the visitors, howls at meetings and constantly motivates me to work more efficiently so we can get out and play.  She is a constant reminder that there’s a big beautiful world outside to explore, and that is one of my favorite things about sharing my life with a dog -  you’ll see the world through their eyes.

I also have three cats with various disabilities who are great to come home to and snuggle with and really excel at lounging around on Sunday mornings.  They are each so different - I dig getting to know their personalities.  Consider how much time you spend at home, how many hours at a time you are likely to be out of the house, your resources for surrogate walkers/caretakers, your level of activity insofar as whether or not you want to take walks or park trips throughout the day, everyday. 

Cats, of course, should be kept inside and/or have access to a safe enclosed outdoor area.  Roaming outside exposes cats not only to disease but also to the dangers of cars, weather, etc, not to mention can have a pretty deleterious effect on the wildlife in your neighborhood.  Cats are homebodies at heart and love nothing more than lounging in your warm, comfy house, likely in a patch of sun.  Despite the myth of aloofness, cats are very social so If you are out of the house for long stretches of the day, you might want to consider adopting 2 cats who will keep each other company.  

We are really lucky to live in a dog friendly city and one where the weather allows us to enjoy our beautiful open spaces throughout most of the year.  If you are active, a dog makes a great companion for adventures out of the house.  But keep in mind, your lifestyle has to be adaptable enough to accommodate a dog’s constitutional needs – whether that means making yourself available or hiring a dog walker.

Whether you choose a cat or a dog, be sure to share your lifestyle, activity level, activity level, etc with the adoption assistant making introductions.  Shelters and rescue groups will be able to recommend the perfect match for you.

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.

Related Articles
Most Popular
From Our Partners