Raising Puppies vs. Raising Kittens: What’s the Difference?

Kittens and puppies both need love, patience, and socialization. Yet, kittens generally have fewer grooming needs. Puppies also need more help housebreaking.

Mar 21, 2024byThalia Oosthuizen
raising puppies vs raising kittens what is the difference

Many people believe that kittens are easier to raise than puppies because of their independent nature. But that’s not true. Whether you adopt a puppy or a kitten, it will be an experience filled with joy, challenges, and laughter.

To make the right decision for you and your family, it’s vital to understand the differences between puppies and kittens. Both have different care needs when it comes to their grooming, behavior, and socialization. Here, you can learn all about them!

Kittens Have Fewer Grooming Needs

Tabby Cat Being Brushed on Gray Carpet
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As a responsible animal owner, it’s essential to ensure your pets stay clean. Cats are independent when it comes to cleaning themselves. Most kittens spend a good part of their day licking their fur. If you have an indoor shorthaired cat, you only must bathe them once a year. Long-haired cats may require more bathing.

Dogs aren’t as thorough as cats when it comes to cleaning themselves. A puppy may need a solid rinse after a frolic in the snow or a day at the dog park. Depending on the breed and how much your dog likes to play outside, you may need to bathe your dog every week or every few weeks. Dogs with long fur (like Poodles) also require regular brushing and combing to prevent mats.

Puppies Need a Lot of Attention

Orange Tabby Cat Beside Fawn Short coated Puppy
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Cats and dogs have basic behavioral differences. Cats aren’t as social as dogs are. You can leave your cat for long stretches of time with little or no issues. Your kitten might love the occasional cuddle but is usually equally happy being on its own and observing its surroundings.

Puppies are more social creatures and are more dependent. Dogs love connecting with humans and are more likely to follow you around the house than cats. They aren’t called man’s best friend for nothing.

Kittens and Puppies Have Different Exercise Needs

Cat and Dog Playing with Fluffy Toy
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Cats can be playful, especially as kittens. Kittens enjoy playing with toys, and if they feel like it, they may pass a ball back and forth with you. They are incredibly agile but aren’t as athletic as puppies.

Puppies are fantastic exercise buddies and are great companions to have when going for a walk, hike, or run. While some dog breeds are more athletic than others, as your puppy develops, they need consistent exercise to ensure they grow up properly. They’ll likely “mellow out” once they pass the one-year mark.

Kittens Sleep During the Day; Pups at Night

Bengal Cat and Yorkshire Terrier Sleeping on Bed
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Kittens are nocturnal creatures. They sleep all day and expect you to party with them all night. Kittens naturally sleep up to 20 hours a day. They are the perfect pets for night owls.

Like humans, dogs are diurnal. You’ll usually find a puppy sleeping at the same time you do. However, your puppy is more likely to catch more ZZZs than you do. The average puppy sleeps for 15 to 20 hours a day.

Puppies Need Extensive Housebreaking

Black And White Border Collie Outdoors for Potty Walk
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Kittens generally require little potty training. That’s because they have a natural instinct to do their business in sand or dirt. By keeping your kitten’s litter box clean, you can ensure they use it regularly.

Unlike kittens, puppies can do their business right in the middle of your living room, and consider it a great idea if the mood strikes. Luckily, they are trainable. With consistent and diligent training, your puppy can learn the right place and time to go potty. You could even train your puppy to use a litter box—a great idea if you have limited mobility or live in a cold place.

Kittens and Puppies Require Different Vaccines

Vet Cutting Cat Nails
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Although puppies and kittens require the same primary vet care and vaccination schedules, the types of vaccines they need differ. Both cats and dogs should get a rabies vaccine.

Kittens need FVRCP and FeLV. FVRCP is a four-way vaccine for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and chlamydia. FeLV is a feline leukemia virus vaccine, which is the only vaccine shown to be effective against persistent viremia for two years after vaccination.

Besides the rabies vaccine, puppies get DHPP. The DHPP is a combination vaccine that protects against canine distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and two types of adenovirus (hepatitis).

Both Animals Have Different Feeding Patterns

The best way to be sure how much food your kitten or puppy should eat is by asking a vet. As a rule of thumb, a kitten should be fed one to two times a day. However, puppies have more dietary requirements. An average puppy tends to eat three to four times a day, depending on its size.

Kittens vs. Puppies: What’s the Same?

Siberian Husky and Cat Playing Outside
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For all their differences, there are some similarities between raising a puppy and raising a kitten. Some of these similarities include:

Both Require Commitment

weiner dog and cat sleeping
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Whether you’re raising a kitten or a puppy, you can expect to devote a good amount of time and effort toward raising them. You’re responsible for keeping their environment clean and ensuring they are well-groomed. You’re also expected to commit to training them, walking them, and loving them.

Both Animals Need Vet Visits

Cats Looking at Black Puppy while Sitting on Bench
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Puppies and kittens require regular visits to the vet. Regardless of whether you’re a dog or cat parent, it’s essential to schedule regular checkups for your fur babies. Visits to the vet will ensure that your kitten or puppy stays on schedule with their vaccinations. Visiting a vet will also detect any common underlying health issues, like ear infections and canine obesity.

Both Kittens and Puppies Bring Joy

puppy and kitten looking at each other
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Raising kittens and puppies is similar in that both are rewarding. That feeling you get when your puppy happily barks at you, or your kitten contentedly purrs as you gently stroke it, is priceless.

Adopting Any Animal Requires Dedication

Cat Lying Beside Puppy in Yard
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There are clear differences between raising a kitten and raising a puppy, but there are also similarities. Puppies and kittens are great companions, and raising one is not easier than raising the other. Both require continuous commitment and responsibility.

Deciding what pet to add to your family is no easy task. Ultimately, choosing which one to raise depends on your space, lifestyle, and personal preference. If you want a pet to go on a walk with, shadow you around the house, or do energetic activities, a puppy might be best for you. However, if you want a pet who doesn’t require much attention or wants to play without running around the backyard, then a kitten might be a suitable option.

Thalia Oosthuizen
byThalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading