Cat and Dog Facts for Kids

This is a page on cat and dog facts written in plain English for children and adults who like easy-to-read information.

Cat and dog facts for kids
Cat and dog facts for kids. Photos by (left) fofurasfelinas and (right) Corie Howell

Domestic Animals

Cats and dogs are “domestic animals” – what does it mean? For a cat or dog it means: an animal that we like to have around and the animal also likes it. The animal is used to being with people and is not frightened of them. The animal is calm with people. It also means that where cats live with dogs they get along fine.

People who live with a cat or dog do it because it makes their life better. It is the same for the cat or dog. There is a  “mutual benefit” to both the person and the cat or dog. “Mutual benefit” means that both the cat and the person get more out of life when they live together. If is the same for people and dogs.

The Beginning – When Cats and Dogs First Became our Companions

Cat: we believe that the first time a cat decided to live with a person was about 9,500 years ago. A long time ago. We believe this because when a grave was dug up in Cyprus they found the bones of person and a cat. They had been buried together telling us they had been companions when they were alive. Cyprus is in the Mediterranean Sea. The skeletons were about 9,500 years old. No one has found an older grave.

The cat that decided to live with people is a type of wild cat called the “Near Eastern Wildcat”. It is a bit like a domestic cat to look at, as you would expect. Even today, the wildcat and the domestic cat look very similar. The reason why the wildcat decided to live with people is because there was food for the cat where people lived. The food was rats, mice and snakes. The rats were there because they were eating the grain the people had harvested. The people liked cats to be around because they stopped the rats eating the grain and the cats liked being around because they had rats to eat. See more

Dog: the story is a bit like it is for the cat only we can go back further in time. The graves of a person with a dog were dug up in Israel and Germany. It was decided that the skeletons of the grave in Israel were 12,000 years old. The skeletons of the dog and person in Germany were 14,000 years old. In 2010, the bones of a dog were found in Siberia. They were 30,000 years old. It is believed that these bones were the bones of a dog, not a wolf. It is now believed that the wolf first became a companion of people 18,000 years ago in Europe. You can see that people are still unsure what happened.

The dog that first decided to live with a person was a grey wolf. Imagine the very first wolf that became a domestic dog! What a moment in the history of the world that was. We are not sure why a wolf decided to live with people. Today people think it is because either people took wolf cubs from mothers and lived with them so they got used to living with people and when they had puppies the puppies were used to living with people and so on. Or, the first wolf came to a place where people lived and ate the rubbish or some of the waste meat and bones left behind by people. The wolves liked it and came back. Gradually, over many years, they became calm around people. The people saw that they could use friendly wolf to help them to live, to protect them against large and dangerous animals and so the idea of a domestic dog started. The dog is still useful to people for protection and friendship, 18,000 years later.

Owning a Cat or Dog

In Europe and North America the number of domestic cats is about the same as the number of domestic dogs. In Asia, there are more dogs than cats because in the countries of Asia there is more of a need for a companion animal that is a working animal. This means a need for protection as well as friendship. The cat has become more popular as people have become more busy. This is because people think that cats are easier to look after.

Cat and Dog Breeds

There are about 40 cat breeds that are well known. Overall there are at least 104 cat breeds (the link is for adults) but a lot of them are very rare and hardly known. There are many more dog breeds. It is difficult to know for sure how many there are because different people have different ideas on what a dog breed is. Some people think there are 339 dog breeds. There are probably between 300-400 dog breeds.

There is a huge difference in the size of dog breeds. Pomeranians weight 3-7 pounds while Saint Bernards weight 120-200 pounds. The smallest domestic cats are called miniature cats and they weigh about 4 pounds and the largest weigh about 30 pounds. They are Savannah cats.

The most popular cat breeds are probably the Siamese, Persian, Maine Coon and Bengal. The most popular dog breeds are probably the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Boxer but it depends where you live. People in America like different dogs to people in Europe. It is the same for cats. See more about the cat breeds that are best for kids to live with

Cat and Dog Behavior

Some people think cats are aloof and like to do their own thing. This is not really true. Domestic cats like to be around people and other cats or dogs if they are used to living with dogs. They have become “sociable”. The domestic cat still likes to do the same things as the wild cat. You can see this behavior when he goes outside on his own. Cats are made to hunt, escape danger and to live through tough situations. In the home we should play with our cat because, for a cat, playing is like hunting. Within a group of cats there will be cats that want to be the boss and cats that are happy to be just part of the group. Cats are harder to train than dogs but you don’t want to train a cat because what they do is fine. Both cats are dogs like to be out doing things when it starts to get dark and again when the sun comes up. This is because at these times there is more prey around for the cat or dog to hunt. See more….

Dogs are known to like living in a pack (a group). The dogs in the group are part of an extended family. Dogs can become very upset when left alone by their owner. This is called separation anxiety. Cats are a bit better at being alone but also become upset when left alone.

Some dogs are more “assertive” and some are more “passive”. The “assertive” dogs might be leaders of the group while the passive dogs follow him. As mentioned, it is similar for cat groups.

It is up to the dog’s owner to be the boss and take charge in a firm but gentle way of his dog. Dogs should be trained and puppies train themselves by playing with each other. Cats are the same. When they play-fight they are practicing for the real thing: hunting prey.

Cat and Dog Food

Cats cannot eat dog food as it is not a complete food for a cat. Although both cats and dogs are carnivores – meat eaters – cats are less able to live off anything other than meat while dogs can manage better when not eating meat. When dogs eat cat food it may be too rich for them. They may get diarrhea. When cats eat dog food they miss out on certain important things such as “taurine”, vitamin A and a substance called “arachidonic acid”. A cat eating dog food can cause the cat to become ill. See more about cat food….

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