Are Cat People Smarter than Dog People?

Tabby cat

“Dogs have masters; cats have staff” is a thought provoking phrase with which all cat lovers are familiar.

In fact, this phrase is so accurate that it makes me believe that cat people are smarter than those who hang out primarily with dogs. The word “master” is frequently used to describe someone who is an expert. But in my humble opinion, one needs special qualifications as well, to be hired as staff. It does require the boss’s recognition of the applicant’s intelligence. After all we all know that cats are very choosy about whom they hire.

Dog lovers, please don’t get defensive and get your hackles up about my hypothesis before you read further. Since I am an inquisitive person and do considerable research to back up my suppositions, I always fact-check extensively and spend considerable time researching my topic before I publically express opinions that may be highly controversial.
So, when I ran across an article in Gizmag by Tannith Cattermole I was gratified that my opinon was validated by the author.

In a 2007 study, the characteristics of dog and cat owners were identified through random telephone calls with 2,980 pet owners. It was made by Dr. Jane Murray and her colleagues from the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science at Bristol University. In addition to other results, they found cats were more likely to be owned by households with gardens, semi-urban or rural households, households with someone qualified to degree level, females and people aged less than 65 years. Cats were less likely to be owned by households with one or more dogs. But even though the researchers discovered some similar results in the interviews with dog owners as they did with cat owners; undaunted by their discovery I pushed further on to back up my theory.

According to an article in the Telegraph:

“People with cats are more likely to have university degrees than those with dogs. Cats require less time per day than a dog, so they are more popular with educated people who work late and have long commutes” (extrapolated from the Murray study by author Matthew Moore).

However, to give both sides equal consideration, I felt compelled to dig a little deeper before I felt justified that my opinion was right on the money. So to validate and justify my assumption, I found a few illustative quotes attributed to a host of witty authors, poets, philosophers, scientist and comedians that get right to the heart of the matter.

  • “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” - Dr. Sigmund Freud
  • “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” - Robert Heinlein
  • “Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.” – James Heriot
  • “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” – Mark Twain
  • “Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” - Ernest Hemingway
  • “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” –  Leonardo da Vinci
  • “There are no ordinary cats.” - Colette
  • “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” - Charles Dickens
  • “The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats …” – Albert Schweitzer

Last but most importantly:

“Time spent with cats is never wasted “intelligent, peace-loving, four-footed friends- who are without prejudice, without hate, without greed- may someday teach us something.” – James Mackintosh Qwilleran

Of course, this is a mainly tongue-in-cheek article, but that said, I am sticking to my guns.

What do you think about my hypothesis? Share your thoughts in a comment.

Jo

  1. Photo credit: Flickr User Lollypop Farm
  2. Cats vs Dogs

Comments

Are Cat People Smarter than Dog People? — 44 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Jo.

    My theory is that cat people are in general more confident due to being smarter, which allows them to accept and respect the cat who is more independent than the dog.

    Whereas, dog people are in general less confident due to being not as smart as cat people and therefore need an animal to look up to them and be a master to. This boosts their confidence,

  2. I have never particularly equated a degree with intelligence. I have met people with a few degrees and they are incredibly stupid and unable to do a darn thing on their own. So in this day and age a degree is just a norm.

    • Do you think that cat people are more thoughtful than dog people? That may be a reason why they may come across as smarter.

      There may also be a character difference which makes a difference. Thoughtful people are more inclined to learn and understand.

      Of course not all cat people are smarter than dog people sadly.

    • “A norm” for those who can afford them. I call them “rent-a-degrees” because of the explosion of online universities and colleges that charge for this service and may or may not actually equip recipients for the real world. Agree 100% with your assessment. Of course, I’m just a non-degreed peon.

  3. What about people who have both cats and dogs? There are some here on PoC.
    But I do agree in a way about those who have cats only and those who have dogs only, especially some here anyway, where we have a lot of men who think a bull terrier type of dog or a rottweiler makes them look important. Not all men of course, some women do too, yet they just look stupid as they can’t handle their dogs.
    What annoys me are those people with dogs who think we all have to love them too, I like dogs but if I wanted one barking senselessly outside for hours or jumping at me, I’d have one of my own. So in that way yes cat lovers are smarter because we know everyone doesn’t like our choice of pet and we don’t expect them to.
    Yet cats are always given worse press than dogs!

    • Exactly – well said Ruth. Dog people often expect us to ‘deal’ with their dogs. The simple reason is that dogs invade personal space both through sound and physically touching you. Cats don’t do this (apart from my Lilly :) )
      ..infact cats don’t just come and drown you out with their noise and jumping. It’s all very nice and innocent of the dog but for those who are not used to it it is a total invasion of personal space. Dog people should teach their dogs to leave strangers and certain friends alone and to not bark in such a way as to bother the entire neighbourhood on a constant basis. The lady who has kittens here every year has a huge dog who is a bloody disaster when it comes to personal space, especially for the little kittens, but for the cats and me too. She gets jealous if you talk to the lady too long and starts barking and whining so loud you can’t talk anymore. The lady just ignores it because she is used to it but also because she would pretty much do anything for that dog (not the cats though, they are accessories).

      It’s very frustrating and I have stopped visiting if the dog is there just because I can’t’ have fun with the cats because the dog gets jealous and invades. It’s bloody awful actually. As it so happens I am going up there tonight because everyone is away (yay) and I will feed the cats and spend a couple hours playing with the kitten who is left and the two mamas and their new boyfirend the big black cat with no name who comes over :) I can’t wait – it’ll be a nice time. But with the dog there all this is impossible.

      • Maybe Marc, you can have the mama cats spayed while the lady is away! Just kidding, but wouldn’t it be nice. Popping out kittens every year is not good for the kittens, and not good for the mama cat.

        • EXCELLENT IDEA, DW. In our former home location where there were a lot of free-roaming cats, our policy was that any cat venturing into our yard got whisked to the vet for checkup, baseline innoculations and spay/neuter. Some of these cats we later discovered to have caretakers; some of those caretakers were financially challenged and others I suspect wouldn’t have done the deed no matter what their status. Bottom line, cats ended up happier, healthier, and did not add to the terrible and totally avoidable overcatulation tragedy. ;)

        • Don’t EVEN get me started on that one! I will say that, living in an urban location, I only get the incessant loud barking of the dogs right near me; where we lived before, we were about the only people who didn’t have (multiple, untrained) dogs, and once one would go off, all the others would as well. It was especially fun when accompanied by huge coyote packs roving through the area. (And in response to anyone’s anticipated comments, ALL of our beloved cats were 100% safe. No caring and responsible person/family would have it otherwise.)

    • What about people who have both cats and dogs?

      I think there is a lot of middle ground with people who don’t fit neatly into either category.

      PoCers are cat people. Clear cut. Well defined! But a lot of people like “pets” and are less sensitive to companion animal caretaking.

      Perhaps a lot of people who look after cats or dogs are not really cat or dog people. They like to keep a cat and a dog because it makes “the family” complete.

      Then there pure animal lovers like Elisa who like both.

      It is not a clear, well defined profile of people. But yes, in general cat people are smarter than dog people. We are more thoughtful and concerned. We think.

  4. Thanks for all the quotes by well known brilliance. It is nice to read them all in one place. It gives me a lift. “What greater gift than the love of a cat”, indeed.

    I don’t have a strong opinion on the subject. I am willing to accept that I am smarter, as I prefer cats. :). But I agree with Marc. The number of degrees isn’t a perfect measure of intelligence. But it was a handy one for the study.

    I know some very smart dog people. And I know MANY smart cat people.

  5. I’ve known a mix of all but tend to think cat owners are smarter. However, my neighbor who insists on feeding poor, barely able to chew, Houdini only dry food is as dumb as a rock in my opinion.
    Now, more so than intelligence, I think cat people are, generally, more accepting of normal animal behavior and more tolerant when things fall short of their expectations. I think they’re more likely to “go with the flow” and say, “Well, that’s my Damon. I love him the way he is.”
    I think some dog owners see their dogs as “just animals” and may have them to serve a purpose rather than to be a family member. I’ve never seen a cat attending obedience school as dogs do. That tells me that their humans require certain behaviors that make them into what they want. That’s conditional want or love.

    • Totally agree with you, Dee. There is no doubt that we think alike and that probably goes for other PoCers. I think for a person to “go with the flow” it shows an intelligence because the person accepts their cat and respects the cat. This is not imposing one’s will but treating a cat as an equal. This is an intelligent approach.

      • I don’t think we can do anything but accept our cats if we love and want them. They won’t bow to commands like dogs may. I need to be put in a home if I say “lie down” or “sit” and expect any of my cats to oblige. They’re looks at me would be a big “F**k you!”

      • Humbly beg to disagree there, Michael — treating cats as equals is demeaning to cats when actually we are all aware, are we not, of their superiority? ;)

  6. I don’t know if cat people are smarter than dog people but I do know that cat people have to really think more about how to live with a cat than dog people do. Dogs are pretty clear cut, for the most part, and make clear what they want. Barking and wagging tails tell the story. With cats you mostly have to get into their mind set to figure out what they are thinking and why they are doing what they are doing. Our cats have a schedule….they expect that schedule maintained. Deviation from the schedule will be dealt with in many ways including loud meowing and mischief of a manner most foul. Broken collectibles shoved off of shelves and toilet paper shredded and spread through the house is definitely a scheme to get our attention. Our friend has a cat that adores him but a heavy work schedule gives him little time at home with his cat. Thus toilet paper spread through the house and everything movable on the floor. It is not getting even as much as it is saying “Pay attention…I need you.” Most dogs are mellow compared to cats and you best be ready to think like a cat if you want to know why your ceramic angel is laying in pieces on the floor. PS: I keep lots of glue in the house. :)

    • HI Tani, nice comment. Dogs are more accepting perhaps. I read somewhere that if a dog owner hurts his dog the dog still looks up to the owner. A cat, by contrast, would fight back and run. Perhaps, with a cat, you do have to work a bit harder at the relationship at a psychological level. This is part of the fun.

      Bottom line: cats are less domesticated.

    • I love your comment, Tani. You are so on the mark.
      Even though I am here most of the time, I have several cats that vie for my attention. Sometimes, I just lie down on the floor and just start petting and scratching away the pile on top of me.
      As you say, glue is an essential as well as a stock of paper products. I have such a hard time using shredded bath tissue, but I do.

      • Is that you, Dee? ;) We have that phenom here as well — Rani is quite the purrformance artist and her installations generally employ what she tells me is “shattered paper” ;)

  7. Okay have to ask where did you get a picture of my Patches? lol She is the one who walks up to the dogs, sit on her hind legs and washes their faces and they let her. Having both cats and dogs I watch the interaction daily and it is down right funny most of the time. It is a game of what will happen if I do this to the dogs? Then it is the opposite with me seeing the dogs plotting against the cats who are much faster and smaller. All in all I would say they are a even match as far as smarts go. They all pretty much get along and they all realize there will be no actual physical harm.

  8. Love the article, your informed point of view, and the sage quotes, all of which are absolutely true. Writers, artists and others of superior discernment and intelligence have long been known to form deep bonds with felines, who are, after all, far more beautiful, cleaner, softer, quieter (in the main) and more discerning than, well, that OTHER species. The unequalled beauty of the feline form never fails to delight; their silken fur and sweet purrs can send us into ecstasy. ‘Nuff said? (I WISH I could have the name “Tannith Catermole” ;)

    • Someone should do an article on writers and their cats. Cats are excellent companions for writers.

      They are great for people working on computers too provided you can get to the computer!

      Charlie pins me down when I am on the computer. I can move so I get very stiff. Then when I move him in desperation, he complains big time.

      • I am now graced by Baby Su, sitting “Egyptian Cat” style on my lap. She does this frequently. Kind of hard to work around her; I plant kisses on her head and she warbles her thanks. Or bites me. ;)

  9. Well, I have only a high school education (and don’t remember half of what I learned) and I have 8 rescued cats, a rescued blind Collie, a rescued mutt, and a German Shepherd. Two dogs and seven cats are special needs. John and I have had to work very hard at creating relationships with the cats and the abused dogs. The GSD was easy since we aquired him as a puppy. I like the cats because the are content to purr in your lap and headbonk you as a sign of affection. If fact, one is purring on my lap as I type this. I like the dogs because they go outside and romp with us an love riding in the truck with us. ALL of our animals are trained (to a point with the cats). The cats know to stay off the table while we are eating and to use their scratch posts rather than our furniture and to come when called. The dogs have been taught not to bark excessively, to respect personal space (of the other dogs, the cats, and people), they also are highly obedient, and one is a certified Therapy Dog and a trained Service Dog. I would not consider myself a smart person, but I am smart enough to recognize that our animals also have “me” well trained. I come when called, I feed them when asked, and I vet them whenever anything seems amiss with them.

  10. I met a really smart kitty guardian many, many years ago.. her idea of “outsmarting” her clowder of Siamese cats and kittens who loved shredding toilet paper was amazing.

    She installed a metal toilet paper holder that had a slide up and down cover in every bathroom (she had 4) in her rather spacious home. No more toilet paper shredding. She also put some “cozies” on spare rolls of paper on the top of the toilet so they couldn’t shred those either.

    While they are hard to find- they are available for sale in “trendy” stores or on the internet.

  11. Not sure about “peace-loving” ( watch MY CAT FROM HELL) but I do love cats. The people you’re quoting and the whole notion of kitties as elitist is entertaining but I wish more of them had even adequate care to maintain them instead of so often risking life and limb just to stay alive.

  12. I think your Hemingway quote is actually Mark Twain. I’ve read that same quote attributed to Mark Twain. It doesn’t sound like Hemingway’s style. I really can’t stand Hemingway. Ugh. Worst writer ever. Sorry, just how I feel. I can’t believe he said something so elegant and positive toward cats. He was all about hunting and killing animals and proving his manhood and using as few words as possible just making “fine” stand for every single adjective in the world that would actually be descriptive. We used to make fun of Hemingway in college, describing objects, events or incidents in a Hemingway bare bones style of description, then rolling with laughter. This qualifies as a rant. Marc rants about lawns. I rant about Hemingway.

  13. Maybe the quote above the one listed for Hemingway actually is Hemingway, not Twain. It’s about never saying a word too much. Hemingway would approve of that. Thank God, because his books at least weren’t too terribly long when I was forced to read them in college.

  14. Your assumption, no matter how tongue-in-cheek it might be, completely fails when you consider how many cat-owners are outsmarted by their cats that escape their safe confinement. Proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that the vast majority of cat-lovers are far more stupid than their pets. Not recognizing, comprehending, realizing, acknowledging, nor accepting this fact being further concrete proof that cat-lovers are far more stupid and ignorant than their cats.

    But then, I guess you can’t comprehend or know what is beyond your mental capacity.

    • Hi Brad, just because a cat escapes from “their safe confinement” (presume you mean an indoor life) does not indicate that the cat is smarter than the human – obviously. It also does not mean that dog people are smarter than cat people or vice versa. It has no bearing on anything.

  15. Adding to what Michael just posted- I am thrilled to see that more and more cat people are doing tons of research on how to better feed their kitties- how to better care for them. Books like Pam Johnson-Bennett’s “Think like a Cat” is a best seller- and Jackson Galaxy’s outstanding Television show “My Cat From Hell” is a blockbuster.

    And- sometime purosely allowing our cats to “outsmart us” can be an excellent strategy in our relationship with our kitties, IMO.

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