What's More Risk - Tenant with 2 cats vs 1 dog (California)?

7 Replies

I have a rental home in Modesto CA (single family home - 3 beds/2 bath ) with a vacancy I want to fill by Thanksgiving.  Many of the applicants through my property manager have 2 cats or 1 dog. Initially, I wanted to take 1 cat only, no dogs, to minimize the risk of property damages, but now I'm thinking of expanding my criteria to get the vacancy  filled.  How can I minimize the risk of losing $ ?  My property manager requires people with pets to pay a pet deposit of a few hundred dollars and have renters insurance that covers the animal.  What can I do to protect myself against the possibility of the pet causing $4-$5K in damage to the carpeting and/or yard ?  Can I specify that the renters insurance covers up to $5K in property damage and $300K liability? Is one dog more risk than 2 cats?  What about $50/month pet rent in addition to the pet deposit ?  Is that realistic in the Central Valley of California? Any replies would be appreciated! Thanks.

I would always take dogs over cats.  Cats can cause more monetary and time consuming damage to flooring.

We collect pet rent, a high deposit, and make sure that the entire deposit amount is defined as a deposit that can be used for any damage; if the pet deposit it separately listing it can be argued that the deposit money isn't interchangeable. What you can charge depends on what your local market can bear; $1000 higher deposit isn't uncommon in our area.

In my mind renters insurance comes into play if the pet injures someone, not for property damage.

Damage by tenants, children, or pets is the roll of the dice.  Try to do good screening and hope for the best.

I agree with Michele.

Dogs are better than cats. They are social creatures that establish hierarchies through interaction. Cats are solitary and mark their territory with scented urine that can destroy a property and cause the smell to be completely unbearable and cost thousands to remove. 


I would much rather have a dog than 2 cats. Cat urine is the worst, ruins carpet, pad and baseboards. Horrible long process to rid the odor.  Having said that, the pet owners must be good pet owners and take care of their pets and property. May sound crazy, but you could ask to see the animals and where they live currently, as well as ask for vet records, pet deposit, pet fee and/or pet rent to help protect your property with extra funds to go after when they vacate 

I agree. Dogs are better than cats in terms of damage. 

However, most landlords specify small dogs only and there I don’t agree. Small dogs are more likely to urinate & defecate indoors (either on pads or since the deposits are small, owners have never taken house breaking seriously) & bark more than big dogs (often incessantly). 

Of course these are generalizations, but I’m a landlord that favors big dogs. 

I would choose a dog over a cat although I do not allow pets.

However you must be selective in choosing dogs, you must not allow any dangerous breeds. A small dog bite is preferred over being torn to shreds by a dangerous breed or large dog.

I used to have both cats and dogs (well, my wife chose the cats, we both chose the dog). All said and done the cats were much worse to the house. Dogs can and will damage the yard, however that is much easier to care for. A lax owner with a cat or 2 could cause a LOT of stink and damage inside the house. It took me a long time and floor replacement to cure the cat issues in our house (their litter box was in a basement area, and cleaned every other day, however it still ended up with stink being tracked around that area). After the flooring was replaced and the area scrubbed the smell was gone, however the dog really left no interior issues (assuming the dog doesn't damage the house).

This all assumes an involved owner who cares for their pets. If the owner could care less, both could damage a place terribly.

Agree with everyone here dogs are far far better. I do not allow cats but do allow dogs, I do ask to meet the dog. Dogs are great companions and depending on the area they defer crime.

The sad part of the story is it is more about the owners than the dog...I look for people that love and care for their dog (regardless of breed) not someone who ties them to a chain out back


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