The results are clear, and it’s not even by a whisker. For most lifestyles, dogs are higher-maintenance so they’re more expensive. Although cats and dogs tie in some arenas, there’s not a single category in which cats are pricier. Some dog owners might say there are some benefits to the extra spending. Dogs can be taken with you on vacation, they can play with you at the park or accompany you on long walks, and they’re vastly more social and playful than cats. A cynical pet owner could argue that they get more return for their dollar on that count, though of course, the self-reliance, low maintenance, and soothing presence of a cat are selling characteristics on their own. There are lots of variables, including where you live, the size of your pet and the amount of free time you can spend at home taking care of your it, and the health of your animal. But with all things being equal, cats have the edge. You can significantly cut down on surrogate-attention and poop-maintenance costs by having a house and yard of your own, but if you’re like the majority of Americans, you will have to factor in the price of cleaning up after your dog, and you have to allow for plenty of daily exercise, which may require some financial outlay.
Emphasis ours. Webvet agrees, although it points out that a small dog (the most affordable kind) is not that much costlier than a cat:
It’s a good thing that owning a pet comes with little perks like, ya know,longer lifespans, improved health and superior self-esteem – cause they’re certainly not cheap. However cats are generally cheaper than most dogs, which is probably a likely reason why there are more pet cats in the U.S. than pet dogs. The first year of any ownership comes with a bigger balance line as one must cover spay/neuter costs and basic supplies. But once the the splurge subsides, it’s actually small dogs who are the easiest to maintain. The ASPCA studied the average costs of pet ownership and here’s how the numbers shook out:
Small dog: $1,314 the first year, $580 per year after
Medium dog: $1,580 the first year, $695 per year after
Large dog: $1,843 the first year, $875 per year after
Cat: $1,035 the first year, $670 per year after