They are as different as—well, cats and dogs.
When you leave a cat alone to go on a shopping trip, chances are she won't know you've left the building—or care. A dog needs to be confined to a safe area, left with toys and treats, and she counts the seconds while you are gone.
A cat gets all the exercise it needs climbing the curtains, chasing spiders and switching its tail at nap interruptions. A dog will come back from a long, long walk, pant for five seconds, then beg for another.
Training a kitten consists of placing it in a litter box and walking away—job done. A puppy, on the other hand—well let's just say if you love the carpeting in your home, you've chosen the wrong pet.
There are shelves upon shelves of books written about how to train your dog. Arguments abound about Alpha dominance training versus the gentler NILF (don't smirk—it stands for Nothing in life is free). The mind boggles at the amount of reading material. I think there are fewer books on raising children than raising dogs. On the other hand, cat training manuals are a scarce item. I think most of the cat trainers end up totally frustrated, stymied, and living in a corner playing with string.
Cute cat videos seem to be the winner over cute dogs on the internet—at least for now. I think it's because cats are so much easier to film. Dogs get distracted and want to interact with you but cats just give you a passing glance, shrug, and go on with what they're doing.
Dogs love to go for car rides with you. Well let's face it, dogs like to go everywhere with you. But try putting a cat in a car and you'd better be wearing earplugs. It will sound as though the banshees have all been loosed from Hell.
In spite of all the differences, or maybe because of them, I love both cats and dogs. While I lived with a cat, I swore cats were the superior pet. Now that I live with a dog, I'll swear the opposite. It doesn't matter—they both make life a little more interesting, a little more varied, considerably more frustrating, and a lot more fun.