Cats vs. Dogs: Which can Cause the Most Property Damage?

In a world where many people refer to their pets as fur babies and buying pet clothing is a social norm, allowing pets on your property can open you up to a much larger resident pool. With almost seventy percent of United States households owning pets, many renters are looking for a place that will welcome their four-legged friends. While some property managers prefer cats over dogs or vice versa, the question becomes which one really has the potential to cause the most damage?

Man’s Best Friend, the Dog

Dogs are considered Man’s Best Friend, and are a beloved part of the family by millions worldwide. They can, however, leave their mark on a property if not properly trained. But just how much damage can they actually do?

  • Damage to the Inside of the Property
    Dogs love to chew, and sometimes their interest moves from toys to the furniture or the carpet. A bored dog locked up and all by their lonesome can do a lot of damage to your walls, cabinets, or even find time to tear up the linoleum if their owner isn’t around to stop them. If there is little space for them to run around they can be especially dangerous, as they have energy to burn and nowhere to do so.

  • Damage to the Outside of the Property
    If your property has any sort of outside area, there is a risk of a dog wreaking havoc. Dogs have been known to chew up fences and siding, as well as ruin flowerbeds. If the dog urinates on the lawn frequently, it can also kill the grass on the property and leave those dread patches of yellow in your once green lawn. There is also the concern of dogs going outside and then bringing fleas and unwanted critters into the property, which no one wants to deal with. 
  • Barking and Biting
    Dogs can be especially vocal creatures. While there are a lot of factors such as breed, age, and demeanor, a constantly barking pooch could cause trouble with the neighbors. No one wants to live next door to someone whose dog makes themselves a neighborhood nuisance by barking at anything and everything at three in the morning. But there are more concerns than just causing unnecessary noise. Even though everyone likes to think that their pet is an angel, there are still 4.7 million dog bites reported each year. Should an animal act aggressively, there is a possibility of a neighbor, another animal, or even you getting hurt. 
  • Accidents
    No matter how well-trained a dog is, there is always the possibility of an accident. If an owner is gone for the majority of the day and there is no chance for it to go outside, an animal might be forced to relieve itself on your carpeted floors. A sick dog could also make a mess in a property, calling for stained carpets or a lasting smell.

There are, of course, a few things to consider. Puppies are liable to cause more damage than older dogs, and some breeds are simply more well-matched for rental living than others. Bulldogs and Pugs are small, low-energy dogs, and would most likely be better suited than a Husky that needs much more exercise. All in all it depends on the owner’s involvement, but it is something to consider.


The Independent Feline, Cats

Cats may be thought of as more laidback than dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause their fair share of damage. Left unattended they can leave quite a mess behind, but can do they cause as much damage as a dog does?

  • Litter Box and Urine Smell
    While a litter box may mean that a cat isn’t having many accidents on your floor, the cleanliness of said box can make all the difference regarding a lasting smell in your property. Cat urine is especially strong smelling, and is even worse when the animal isn’t fixed. Should the urine soak through your carpet, it might require ripping up the floor up to the concrete just to get rid of the smell. 
  • Damage to the Inside of the Property
    Locked up in a property all day while their owner is away, a cat can do a decent amount of damage. Without a proper scratching post, an animal may decide to scratch up your door frames, cabinets, or even crown molding. Property managers even share horror stories of marks all up and down the walls that cats had tried to climb. Blinds are also liable to be destroyed, should a cat want to climb up and look out. 
  • Allergies
    It’s no secret that there are twice as many people allergic to cats as there are dogs. This has to do with a large protein in their skin, which finds itself airborne through hair and skin. The protein is also especially sticky, which allows it to stick to whatever it lands on and makes it very hard to get rid of. Cat dander can even be found up to two years after the animal has left the property. This could present a problem if you need to look for renters in the future, who may not be able to rent if they suffer from a cat allergy. It can also get in the air vents of apartments, causing other residents to have allergy systems. 
  • Accidents
    Like with dogs, cats are liable to have accidents. No matter how well-behaved an animal is, some things are just unavoidable. Many factors can affect this, such as illness, old age, and even how frequently their owner cleans out the litter box.

Two major factors with cats are declawing* and spaying/neutering. Without claws there is a lot less damage that they can do to the property, which might play a big role in keeping your walls pristine. A fixed animal is also more likely to always use the litter box, and the urine smell is greatly reduced after they undergo the operation.

While it seems that dogs have the capability to cause more damage, the damage that cats do is typically longer lasting (i.e. the lasting smell of urine and leaving behind allergens). The types of floors you have, the size of your property, and other variables can also help to maximize or minimize the damage that is possible. However, at some point it doesn’t matter what type of animal you have living in your rental. It all really comes down to one thing: the renters. Most would agree that a responsible resident would also be a responsible pet owner, one who makes sure that their animals don’t do any lasting damage to the property. If you’re thinking of letting a renter have a pet, be sure to do a thorough investigation of the person beforehand. Tenant screening can tell you a lot about a person, which will clue you in on whether they’re responsible enough to handle an animal. Also consider asking for some type of pet resume, and even meeting the animal itself. Doing this simple legwork could save you from having to deal with potential damages that a cat or dog could cause.

What experiences have you had dealing with renters who have misbehaving pets?

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*CIC does not encourage people to participate in this practice, but understands that some states do permit this practice.


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Comments (1)

  1. Vinnie


    This is all opinion.

    My wife is extremely allergic to dogs. Cats not at all. She is a doctor and says it is individual.

    My rentals we saw dogs claw through wood doors and cause massive property damage. Not so much with cats.

    When it comes to urine… that is usually the owner or the animal.

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