Which Pet Do Most People Prefer—Cats or Dogs?

“Dogs are the best, and nothing can beat them,” says Dagny Nelson, 12, of Maitland, Florida. Do you agree?

Which animal makes for a better pet—a cat or a dog? This reporter loves both animals, but I do have two cats at home.

I wondered about my classmates’ views, so I conducted an informal survey at Howard Middle School in Orlando, Florida. Of the 13 surveys that were returned to me, eight students chose “dog” as their favorite pet. Three chose “cat.” Two other respondents favored different animals.

“Dogs are the best, and nothing can beat them,” said Dagny Nelson, 12, of Maitland, Florida. Dagny and her family have two dogs, PJ and Penny.

Dagny’s mom, Abby Nelson, explained how the family got Penny. “We found a dog that had been hit by a car and left completely immobilized,” Abby said. Five surgeries later, Penny is happy and healthy.

Several studies have found that people experience emotional and physical benefits from owning a dog. Petting a dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in both humans and dogs.

Riley Hawkins, an 11-year-old from Orlando, said that both cats and dogs are special in their own way. Riley should know. She has 30 pets, including 25 fish. The other family pets include two dogs (Rika and Loki), two cats (Luna and Ash), and a turtle.


Rebekah with animal trainer Samantha Martin, who founded the Amazing Acro-cats


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the average number of dogs in a household is 1.46. The average number of cats is slightly higher, 1.78.

Cats are easier to care for, leading to lower veterinary bills. The AVMA reports that the average veterinary expenditure per household per year for dogs is $367. The average cost per household per year for cats is $253.

As a cat lover, I made sure to see the Amazing Acro-cats when they performed recently at the Orlando Family Stage. Samantha Martin, who is originally from Chicago, Illinois, leads the Acro-cats. She starred in the 2021 Netflix documentary series, Cat People.

Martin began her career training rats. The switch to cats didn’t begin well. The first time Martin had a cat perform in a show, she said, “It was a complete disaster.”

Martin trains the Acro-cats to do tricks. These include balancing on balls, walking across cat-sized tightropes, and even playing in an all-cat band, the Rock-Cats. Unlike at other pet shows, the Acro-cats can opt out of performing. Martin even lets them walk off the stage and interact with the audience. 

I didn’t ask Martin how she feels about dogs. But she said that she is drawn to both rats and cats. She identifies the animals as belonging to a group of  “misunderstood animals.” 


Dagny Nelson with her two dogs, PJ (left) and Penny


Top photo: © FatCamera / Getty Images; other photos courtesy of the author