Americans Prefer Dogs to Cats?

Americans prefer dogs to catsAmericans much prefer dogs to cats according to what seems to be a professional run poll, yet there are more domestic cats than dogs in the US. There are an estimated 83.3 million dogs and 95.6 million cats1. The difference is in the number of cats and dogs per household:

  • 1.47 – the average number of dogs per household
  • 2.11 – the average number of cats per household

I think the poll2 was conducted at Raleigh, N.C. (North Carolina). If that is the case the results may not be typical of the remainder of the USA.

However, there is some evidence that supports the results. For example, dogs are taken to the vet far more often than cats. The time devoted to companion animal care appears to be greater in respect of dogs than cats3. Declawing of cats and not dogs is another indicator.

In response to the question: Which do you like better: cats or dogs? The responses were:

  • Cats 21%
  • Dogs 52%
  • Not sure 27%

More than twice as many people prefer dogs. In a previous post we concluded that people who are more inclined to be dominant and in control of their environment are also more likely to prefer dogs to cats. Therefore can we conclude that Americans tend to be dominant/controlling types? I don’t know. I know an American man who totally fits that profile but that is just one person.

23% of people thought that cat owners were “weirder” than dog owners but 35% disagreed and 42% were unsure. That is nice to see.

One question was loaded and leading in my opinion. It asked whether cats were more satisfying pets because you have to work harder for their affection than dogs. I think the question is wrong. However the responses were:

  • Agree 11%
  • Disagree 57%
  • Not sure 32%

I am pleased to see that most people disagree. However, a minority agreed, which indicates that a sizable percentage of people don’t like the cat because they see him/her as “aloof” or standoffish.

Asked to describe their feelings toward cats 24% said they loved them, 34% liked cats, 5% were afraid of cats, 8% said that all cats “should live in the woods” (whatever that means), 11% were allergic and 19% were indifferent to cats.

I find the 5% afraid of cats percentage a bit disturbing. It is quite high. Over 15 million Americans who are frightened of cats, while over 30 million are allergic to cats, a large number.

77% of cats were friendly to visitors to people’s houses. The remainder were not.

Another disappointing statistic (provided they are reasonably accurate) is the amount of hours per week “pet owners” spent caring for their companion animal:

  • less than one hour (16%)
  • 1-5 hours (46%)
  • 6-10 (25%)
  • 11-20 (7%)
  • more than 20 hours (6%)

For me, the shocking statistic is the first, 16% of pet owners care for their cat or dog for under one hour per week. What is happening? Where is the cat or dog in these households. I can hardly believe the cat or dog is domesticated.


It is quite a profound statement to make: that Americans prefer dogs to cats. This is because it reflects on the character of the American people. It may go to the root of the character of Americans. Dogs were domesticated before cats (cats 9,500 years ago and dogs up to 30,000 years ago). Dogs are perceived as having a greater functionality (usually as protection) than cats. Is it that Americans are fearful of crime and want a dog to help protect them? If so is that because of the proliferation of guns in America (over 300m guns). I don’t know. I am speculating.

Judging by the time spent caring for their “pet” I would have to conclude that a lot of people should not possess a pet.

There are no similar polls for the UK as far as I am aware, which is a shame. America is much better than the UK in collecting and collating information about companion animals, which is partly why I end up writing about America more than about the UK.


  1. Humane Society (HSUS)
  2. Public Policy Polling —
  3. AVMA
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Americans Prefer Dogs to Cats? — 5 Comments

  1. Anyone who only cares for their pet less than 1 hour a week must be seriously neglecting them.
    It’s less than 9 minutes a day!
    It’s incredible that the highest percentage of people caring for their pet is 5 hours, that’s less than an hour a day.
    Taking into consideration feeding and grooming and playing with pets I think the statistics are shocking that so few people care for 11-20 hours or 20+

    • I think this part of the poll – the time spent caring and interacting with a “pet” is the most disturbing of all the statistics from this poll. You can bet that most of that lack of caring time is with respect to the cat because dogs demand some interaction.

      • Exactly, Michael. Cats are viewed as less demanding and more independent. People see their aloofness at times as not being needy. Sometimes I see aloofness as a sign that they are very much in need.

  2. Yes, I agree that Americans prefer dogs to cats. I don’t think it is always because they LIKE dogs better. I think they see dogs as being more functional/useful to them, ie. protection, hunters, guide dogs. Some of these people view their dogs more as employees (work for food) rather than pets or companions.

    I love dogs. however, the differences between them and cats makes me more of a cat person. I think dogs are less self-sufficient and creative than cats. I find cats more fun. They are born entertainers. And, they are experts at entertaining themselves.
    Some moments, when I’m pressed for time and I know it’s playtime for Damon, I can almost hear his thoughts, “I know you’re busy, Mom, so I’ll just play with my pile of stuff or maybe with that string over there on the floor.”

    • Dee thats a lovely way to think of Damon 🙂 my cats love play time and I too am shocked as Ruth has said only 9 minutes per day!! Thats barely enough to feed them!! All the cats ignored all the dogs not walked its just so sad 🙁

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