We know that women are more likely to like cats. This is common knowledge. Statistics support it. Thus women are more likely to love cats. Compared with men, women tend to show slightly more concern for both people and animals. There is accumulating evidence to support this.
There are differences between men and women that are well known. There are differences between male and female social, emotional and cognitive functioning. There are numerous studies to support this.
One difference that has been found clearly to exist between men and women is the degree to which they tend to be orientated towards and interested in “things” or “persons”. People who are interested in people could be called “person specialists”. People who are interested in things could be called “thing specialists”.
Personal specialists are more often female. Females tend to be more interested in people than in objects or things. Females tend to construe both people and things with reference to desires and moods etc.. Conversely, males are more often thing specialists. Generally, males are more interested in things or objects. Males tend to view both people and things using more objective and physical criteria such as size and colour etc..
Sadly, animals occupy a sort of middle ground between things and persons in the eyes of humankind. Even today, to many people, animals possess facets of both persons and things. This middle ground position allows people to view animals as either things or people depending on the point of view of the person.
If a person views an animal as a person they will naturally be more willing to relate to him or her socially and view the animal as having emotions and intentions. In an Australian study of 101 adults it was found that person specialists were more orientated towards and interested in animals and more likely to perceive them “personalistically” than were people who could be called thing specialists.
It is argued that females tend to experience the emotional need to nurture more readily than males. This difference has a parallel influence on men’s and women’s association with and affection for both people and animals.
It has been argued that people’s behaviours towards and feelings for pets appear to share many of the characteristics of parents’ relations with children and that females appear to be more responsive to the desire to nurture both children and pets.
It has also been found that when the family has a child the family’s orientation towards their pet diminishes. This is presumably one reason why families get rid of their cat when they have a child.
There would seem to be an overlap between the natural nurture response in relation to children and in relation to pets.
Many studies have shown that women have a stronger emotional empathy towards humans than men. Women also tend to be more empathetic towards animals. The drive to nurture is tied up with one’s emotional response towards animals and people.
The bottom line is that women tend to have a greater emotional response towards people and animals and therefore are more able to empathise with the feelings of animals and therefore the domestic cat. Because of this they are able to make a greater connection with the cat, are more likely to understand the cat and as a consequence have a better relationship which in turn makes the relationship more productive.
Note: in a previous article on UK pet owning statistics I mentioned that I believed that females are less likely to have a pack animal instinct which squares up with felines while canines are pack animals.
The source for this post is: Companion Animals – ISBN-13 978-0-521-01771-8 (paperback)