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Kittens vs Puppies:

Which pet is best for your toddler?
By Expert Tips
Date: May 17 2017
Editor Rating:

Many of us have grown up with a family pet and when we have children we want them to be able to share this wonderful experience too. Having a pet is a great bonding experience for a toddler, not to mention providing them with a partner in crime to play with, which often takes the pressure off you as a parent having to constantly keep your child mentally and physically stimulated. Having a pet in your household will also teach your child about nurturing and responsibility.

Often the difficulty as a parent is knowing what type of pet to buy your child. Kittens and puppies are popular pets, because both are affectionate and child friendly. But it's important to decide whether a kitten or a puppy is a better choice for your toddler. Here are some of the things you need to consider before buying a puppy or kitten.

Upfront cost

If you are thinking of buying a puppy or kitten, there are many upfront costs you may not have thought of, which can all add up. To help you make a more educated decision, these are some of the things you'll generally need to pay in your puppy or kitten's first year after you've purchased your pet.

Puppy costs

  • Registration with council: $40 to $150 (depending on desexed or undesexed)
  • Charge for desexing: $200 to $500 (cost varies with size, age and gender)
  • Microchipping: ranges from $60 to $80
  • Cost of bed or kennel: $100 to $200
  • Puppy vaccinations: $170 to $250
  • Worming, heartworm and flea treatments: $120 to $300
  • Cost of collar and leash or harness: $40 to $100
  • Pet food and bowls: up to $800 (cost varies with quality)
  • Pet grooming: $70 to $90 (cost varies with breed, size and grooming frequency)
  • Investing in puppy training: $170 and above (dependent on the provider you use)
  • Purchasing toys and treats: $50 and above
  • Total cost for the first year: $2,350 to $5,220 (exclusive of cost of puppy)

*Figures are provided by the New South Wales RSPCA and are approximate.

Kitten costs

  • Registration with council: $40 to $150 (depending on desexed or undesexed)
  • Cost for desexing: $115 to $300 (cost varies if the kitten is male or female)
  • Worming and flea treatments: $100
  • Cost of kitten vaccinations: $170 to $200
  • Microchipping: $60
  • Bed and carry cage: $50 to $100
  • Cost of bell and collar: $15 to $50
  • Bowls and pet food: from $370 (cost varies with quality)
  • Pet grooming: from $50
  • Cat scratching post: $20 to $300
  • Cat treats and toys: upwards from $30
  • Cat litter and tray: $130 to $180
  • Cost for first year: $1,150 to $3,570 (exclusive of cost of kitten)

*Costs indicated are approximate and provided by the New South Wales RSPCA


Whether you decide to purchase a puppy or kitten, your toddler will have to be careful when handling your new pet. But it's important to note that kittens are generally more fragile than puppies, so your toddler will need to be extra gentle.

If your toddler is a bit heavy handed and likes rough and tumble outdoors, a kitten may not be a good choice of companion, whereas a puppy would be well suited as most breeds are normally more resilient around this type of play and often actually enjoy it.

For toddlers that are more gentle and prefer playing inside games, reading or writing, a kitten would be more suited, especially because kittens aren't as active as puppies.


While both puppies and kittens need exercise, kittens generally don't require as much exercise as puppies. Kittens will make their own fun and have intermittent bouts of play and lounging, whereas puppies often need to be walked once they've reached a certain age.

Before choosing whether to buy a puppy or kitten for your toddler, it's crucial to be aware of the different exercise demands, as often it will be the parents who are left with the job of exercising their child's pet.


Whether you buy a puppy or kitten for your toddler, both will need to be fed and watered daily. Puppies will need larger meal quantities than kittens, so this should be weighed up before making your choice. Also, as puppies eat and drink more than kittens, toileting is heavier.


While kittens and puppies generally pose very little threat to your toddler due to their size, just like children, in time your pet will grow up.

Depending on the nature of your pet, some may be more emotional, protective or aggressive than others.

While cats can swipe at people, their bites usually aren't harmful, whereas dog attacks can be fatal.

Dogs that bite children or adults often do this because of being overstimulated, fearful, jealous, aroused or guarding their food source.

Statistics released by Kidsafe Queensland in 2006 highlighted that most dog bites happen to children under 5 years of age and it's normally a dog the child knows.

When making the decision on whether a kitten or puppy is better for your toddler, your financial situation, toddler's play habits and nature should all be considered, as both have different benefits.

Shelli Hanson is the Educational Director at Kids Club who have a number of long day care centres in Sydney and Canberra. Shelli has been in the early childhood field for over 22 years and holds a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood. Shelli’s passion for helping shape a child’s future is inspiring and is matched only by her knowledge in the field of early childhood development. Shelli works closely with the Kids Club Centre Directors to ensure the best practice and education is being delivered to meet the National Quality Standards. Shelli is also the host of the Kids Club TV Facebook Live Show.

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