Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells

Plants and animals both need to contain cells within them to survive. And while there are a few similarities in plant and animal cells, there are also three key differences. These differences are due to the fact that plants and animals need different things to be able to survive, and so they need to be structured a bit differently.

Cell Walls

The first major difference in plant and animal cells is that of the cell walls. Plants have cell walls that are comprised of cellulose. This cellulose allows plants to absorb large amounts of water and this water is necessary for the plant’s survival. The cellulose can handle the high pressure this water places on the cell wall. Animal cells on the other hand, do not need as much water as plants and so, they do not have this cellulose wall.


Another major difference between plant and animal cells is that plant cells have chloroplasts. These chloroplasts are necessary so that plants can use sunlight in the process of photosynthesis to convert this energy to food for the plant. Because animal cells do not use the process of photosynthesis, they don’t have any chloroplasts.


The presence of vacuoles may be the most noticeable difference between plant and animal cells, especially when they’re being viewed under a microscope. Plant cells have one large vacuole that is used to hold and secrete waste and nutrients. This vacuole is so large that it comprises most of the cell. Animal cells on the other hand, have many smaller vacuoles contained within one cell.