Are cats cleaner than dogs? We put these furry pets up against each other to discover who has less stink and dirt. Whether you’re a cat or dog person or you’re like us and love both, you’ll likely find some surprises in this article you haven’t considered before. So, get ready to see what type of hygiene these two kinds of animals have.
Let’s dive in!
So, You Want A Clean Pet…
Our pets get dirty, bottom line. From dogs jumping into mud puddles to outdoor cats rolling in dirt and pollen, their fur can be like velcro when it comes to filth. Even indoors cats and dogs find ways to get messy, like getting food on their face or getting into something they shouldn’t.
Keeping animals clean isn’t always easy, and bathing our pets can be a bit of a messy chore. If you’ve ever tried to bathe a cat, you may have struggled. Dogs can be much easier to clean with a sprayer or under a faucet, but if you watch Life with Malamutes you know this isn’t always the case.
Luckily, Both Cats and Dogs Clean Themselves (Mostly)
Luckily, cats and dogs do a relatively good job of keeping themselves pretty clean. So, you can usually minimize the amount of adventurous baths you need to give.
Without soap and water, our pets use what mother nature gave them to clean up. Both species have unique ways of maintaining their hygiene. Cats, in particular, are known for their meticulous self-grooming habits. They spend a considerable amount of time each day keeping themselves clean. They lick their fur frequently, which helps to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair.
Dogs also rely on their mouths to clean themselves. They lick their bodies, similar to cats, but their tongues are smoother so they use their teeth to nibble at their fur as well.
Compared to cats, dogs might spend slightly less time grooming themselves and rely on their owners to bathe them more than cats do. But the amount of time each spends cleaning themselves varies between individuals and factors like the length and thickness of their coats, activity levels, age, and overall health.
Pro Tip: Keep yourself clean too with tips on cleaning dog poop off your shoe.
Are Cats Naturally Cleaner Than Dogs?
Cats and dogs have different grooming habits and preferences, which can give the impression that cats are cleaner. They also are trained at a young age to use the litter box, rather than the messy potty-training phase of a dog. As felines are known for their consistent grooming behavior and spending significant time licking their fur to keep it clean, they usually win the debate of which animal is cleaner.
So, let’s look at the science behind how felines stay so clean.
How Do Cats Stay So Clean?
Cats, with their flexible bodies and rough tongues, dedicate a significant portion of their waking hours to grooming. Their tongues have tiny, backward-facing barbs called papillae that act as natural combs to help remove tangles and mats. The papillae have a U-shaped layer with a wicking effect that removes debris and distributes natural oils throughout their coats.
Cats also use their paws to clean hard-to-reach areas, such as their faces. They moisten their paws with saliva, which helps cool their skin, and then use them to wipe their heads and ears.
Should I Let My Cat Lick Me?
Whether or not you should let your cat lick you is ultimately a personal decision. Some felines do this as a sign of affection. However, there are a few things to consider before allowing your cat to lick you.
First, cats have rough tongues that are designed for grooming, which means their licks can feel quite rough and may cause minor skin irritation for some people. Their mouths can also harbor bacteria. While the risk of contracting an illness from a lick is generally low, it’s still worth taking into consideration, especially if you have a weakened immune system, are prone to allergies, or have an open wound. If you decide to let your cat lick you, ensure that both you and your cat are in good health. And if you don’t want your cat to lick you, gently redirect it to a different object like a toy.
Like cats, dogs often lick as a sign of affection. Canines’ mouths can also have bacteria, but the risk of contracting is low for healthy people. It’s a common misconception that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans. While pups have some antibacterial properties in their saliva, they can still carry harmful bacteria.
Pro Tip: Know the signs to look for if your cat is sick or injured.
Are Cats the Cleanest Animal in the World?
While cats are known for their grooming habits, it would be an overstatement to claim that they are the cleanest animal in the world. There are many other animals that exhibit impressive cleanliness habits. For example, rabbits, clean and groom themselves.
In addition, many sea creatures, such as dolphins and whales, clean their bodies by rolling in the water and rubbing against things like coral. Therefore, while cats have their own particular grooming prowess, there are others that exhibit cleanliness throughout the animal kingdom.
Suggested Reading: Does your dog hate getting their nails trimmed? Learn how to cut an uncooperative dog’s nails.
Should You Give Your Cat a Bath?
Since cats are generally self-grooming pets there’s rarely a need to give them a bath. Grooming them with regular brushing is more beneficial, especially for heavy shedders. However, there are situations where a bath may be necessary. If your cat has gotten into something sticky or toxic, or they’re sick with diarrhea, a bath can help remove the substance from their fur. Also, some cats with certain skin conditions or allergies may benefit from water baths using veterinary-recommended soaps.
If you give a bath, just be aware that your cat may be extremely leery of the water, so be gentle and go slow. Most cats are sensitive to water and may find a bath stressful. We recommend using cat-specific shampoos and warm water.
Dogs, on the other hand, should get periodic baths. It’s recommended to bathe dogs every four to six weeks. Some pups like a warm water bath and even do be blown dry with a hair dryer. But some canines get nervous around bath time and try to escape. Positive reinforcement and (lots of) rewards can help your dog learn to like bathing.
Pro Tip: A good way to keep your dog dry and clean outside is with a dog raincoat if your pup will tolerate it!
Keeping Your Home Clean With Cats Vs. Dogs
The ability to keep your home clean with cats and dogs depends on a variety of factors. For example, heavy-shedding cats or dogs can make vacuuming a regular task. Size is also a factor that can make cleaning more consuming. If you have a large dog that sheds a lot it can mean more frequent removal of fur on floors and furniture. In addition, pets with long hair tend to have more clumping when they shed.
Cats have a litter box that can smell and create a mess if it spills over or some tracks through the house on their paws. In terms of odor, both pups and cats can make furniture and carpets smell by leaving dander and fur behind, so routine cleaning is required if you allow pets on furniture. Many pet owners opt to cover their pets’ favorite spots with blankets and mats to allow for easy, frequent cleaning in laundry machines.
Suggested Reading: Find out our best tips on how to get dog smell out of your couch.
The Cleanliness Crown Goes to the Cat
As we draw the curtain on this spirited comparison, the title of the ultimate cleanliness champion undeniably rests upon the head of the feline kind. Cats’ meticulous self-grooming habits, litter training proficiency, and lower propensity for bringing outdoor messes into our homes give them a clear edge in the cleanliness competition.
However, this isn’t to say that dogs don’t have their own charming attributes. They are loyal, adventurous companions who often excel in areas beyond cleanliness, such as providing security and an active lifestyle.
In the end, the choice between cats and dogs often comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. If cleanliness is a deciding factor, the crown undoubtedly goes to the cat. But remember, no pet comes without responsibility, and whether it’s a cat or a dog, they all need love, care, and occasional cleaning up after.
If you have a cat, what’s your observation of its grooming routine? Share in the comments below.
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