The Difference Between Dog and Cat Owners

by Michael
(London, UK)

Photo by mickeymox (Flickr)

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Photo by mickeymox (Flickr)

Recently I wrote an article on the ownership of cats in the UK. It was about the type of families and people who kept cats and the number of cats in the UK. A notable point was that more intelligent people kept cats! (see the article here). The article on this page is based on research by Stanley Coren, Ph.D, published in Psychology Today. It is about the personality differences between cat and dog owners and it concerns Americans.

Casual observation tells us that dog people are different to cat people but there is a large overlap as the dividing line is grey and blurred. So when we talk of dog people and cat people we are talking about people at the ends of the spectrum. However, it is said that the personality traits of cats and dogs are reflected in their human companions. The more sociable dog being owned by the more sociable person and the more solitary cat being company for the more solitary and independent person. Sometimes dog people also look like their dogs!

Where possible, I like to present this kind of information in a table because it can be accessed more quickly and people surfing the internet like to find the info fast. Below is a summation of  Dr. Coren's research. The research was based on:

  1. An internet study by Sam Gosling in which 4,565 individuals were asked questions about their preferences and personality traits (comment: how accurate is that - people don't self assess their character very accurately do they?)
  2. Separate research by Dr. Coren (6,149 people, aged 16 to 94)
The PeopleThe numbersThe Comment
Percentage of people who like dogs a lot.74%Does this square up with ownership? ANSWER: there are  77.5m dogs and 93.6m cats - (2009-10) in the USA. This is due to multi-cat households.
Percentage of people who like cats a lot.41% 
Percentage of people who disliked dogs  a lot.2% 
Percentage of people who said they disliked cats a lot.15%Is this due to misunderstandings about the cat and/or that cat people are more likely to be independent (outsiders)?
Extroverted people.Dog people are 15% more extroverted and 13% more "agreeable". 
Tend to be introverted people.Cat people. 
Tend to be "cool" people.Cat people. 
People lower in dominanceCat people 
Good, straightforward  people who tend to trust othersCat people. 
Conscientious people.Dog people are 11% more conscientious. 
Neurotic people.Cat people are 12% more neurotic.Disagree strongly!
Open people.Cat people are 11% more open leading to greater chance of unconventional beliefs.Dog people are therefore more closed and more narrow minded.
People living alone.Cat owners 33% more likely to live alone.Family set up more likely to have dog(s) or dogs and cats.
Single woman.Most likely person to have a cat. 
Children raised in house with cats47%  of these people likely to have cats as adults 
Children raised in house with dogs11% of these people have a cat only as an animal companion. 


Further information

Dr. Coren says that dogs are more sociable and will play for longer. Yes, dogs are pack animals but I have found that cats are not almost "invisible" as he says but I see his point. And my cat out plays me often. My cat calls for me and demands attention. Obviously the personality of the cat and dog varies, which blurs the boundary between the behaviour of these animal companions.

The Difference Between Dog and Cat Owners -- Dr. Coren's conclusions

  • Dog people: more social, interactive and accepting
  • Cat people: more introverted, self-contained and less sociable

Take this as you will. It is here for the record only and there will be many disagreements. Bearing in mind that more intelligent people like cats it may be that these people end up being unhappy about other peoples' behavior and become more recluse, finding companionship in a cat that is less demanding on their time and allowing themselves to pursue their interests.

The Difference Between Dog and Cat Owners -- Links

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The Difference Between Dog and Cat Owners

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Feb 20, 2010 Raised with cats
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

I don't dislike dog's - I just don't understand them. It's not that they are pack animals (I actually believe in working together), but more because they are so irritatingly indulgent and submissive to their masters. Also they smell ugly and foul the pavement. I know it's the fault of the owner, not the dog, but still... 😉

I was raised with cats. My father was a market gardening farmer and our cats had an important job catching mice, usually presenting the kill to my mother, who fed them. But besides their practical value, my parents really cared a lot for cats and taught us children how to interact with them.
Actually I think the reason my father never had a dog was that he had been badly bitten as a child. He passed that on to his four children, because all of us have or have had cats in our grown lifes - and no dogs.

Feb 19, 2010 Cocker Spaniel
by: Joyce Sammons

I used to tell people my hair was Cocker Spaniel red. Now its closer to Boxer Bulldog brown. Maybe I do look like my dog.

Feb 19, 2010 all my dog people friends will love this
by: kathy

This is great Im forwarding it to all my friends that have dogs.

Feb 19, 2010 My thoughts
by: Ruth

Very interesting Michael !I enjoyed reading yours,Gails,Joyces,and Rudolph's thoughts too.
My late mother loved cats and always had them when she was at home with her father(her mother died young) My late father said he hated cats, yet on old photos of his mother there is a cat sitting with her, so there must have been at least one cat in the family.
But he was very strict and the boss of us all so my mother wasn't allowed to have cats, the family pets were always dogs. I loved dogs too but I yearned for cats around. So is loving cats an inherited trait ? From when I was very small I'd run to any cat I saw outside.
When my father died at only 55 years old,I was working at the vets and brought my mother her first kitten,she's come in covered in candy floss and had been used as a football. Over the years I brought more home or they turned up at our door and my mother had 20 happy years with her beloved cats, before she died.
My sister loves cats as much as I do !
I find that most people who truly love cats are kind and compassionate people, yes some are neurotic but so are some dog owners.
I don't think people can be 'typecast' as in Stanley Coren's research ! But I do know some people who look like their dogs lol and see many of the uncaring about the environment type who don't clean up their dogs mess, have aggressive looking dogs !I'd like to challenge them but both men and dogs stare fiercely and I like living too much to do so !lol
I'd love to look like a cat but as near as I can manage is my fancy dress ears and tail I wear for fund raising for them lol

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Feb 18, 2010 Cat V/s Dog owners
by: Rudolph.A.furtado

Read this article in the "Times of India" newspaper and now on a very private form in "P.O.C". I have owned dogs from 1976 to 1994 and cats from 1995 to the present day. Ultimately, it was circumstances and personal way of living that made me a cat owner since i am a bachelor, living alone after the demise of my parents.Unlike dogs, cats are easier to maintain for people living alone or busy outdoors most of the day. Dogs can't be left to themselves for long hours, they tend to turn neurotic, besides dogs, unlike cats have to be taken outdoors for their daily walks. In "Apartment living(Flats)" as is prevelant in Mumbai, it is more easier and convenient to keep cats if they are properly "Toilet trained" as are mine.I was always a "Dogman" prior to owning cats and my late dachshund bitch "Lucky" won numerous awards at the local dog shows in Mumbai during the 1980's and 1990's.If i had a "Human family" staying with me then i think i would still be owning dogs, as i love entering my dogs for "dog shows" and even now make it a point to attend "Dog Shows" whenever time permits. There are no "Cat shows" in Mumbai or in India since cats are still not considered as "Professional Pets" and thats a big discouragement to a person like me, yet, hope that "Cat Shows" are a regular feature in the near future.Ultimately, i personally feel that it is just circumstances and situations that make us humans adopt a particular pet, suiting our living conditions and life-style. Today , i am happy and conteded with my pet Alexandrine parakeet "Mittoo", and persian cats Matahari" amd' Matata".A total "Cat man" in 2010!
Rudolph avatar

Feb 18, 2010 Analyze me
by: Joyce Sammons

I was raised with 1 family dog at a time. My experience ended with cats at age 4 because mama wouldn't keep a cat inside and she was tired of them being hit by cars. In the 1980's I began with 1 cat and always had at least 1 cat until 2004. Between 1993 and the present I've had 2 dogs until 2008 I have three. Dreyfuss adopted me in 2000. He is a boxer/lab?mix who followed my every move the day I got him at 6 weeks old. His sibling had no interest in me. He is an indoor dog, smart, intelligent and trained. Darla came next in 2007. She's a little white mutt who had been beaten. She's mouthy, won't mind and will run away if let outside without a least. Try chasing her down 2 weeks post hysterectomy. But when she lays in my lap I feel like the most important person in the world. Cody came in 2008. She's some kind of huskey/shepherd/wolf? mix, is clumsy, and not too bright. She was left to starve as a puppy but her favorite thing now is belly rubs and sleeping in my bed. In the summer of 2009 my daughter got Lola. She was a 3 month old outdoor kitten and since I didn't want a cat my daughter agreed to her care. I didn't want to deal with the cats jumping everywhere issue because I have a lot of collectables.

THEN CAME FURBY. Everyone knows about him. He's a feral who came into my home and took charge of my heart and my dogs. I found him on my way home from my boyfriend's funeral. He is the ruler of my home. He sleeps with Dreyfuss. The dogs respect him and Lola is active as stepmother to him. Everyone get along great.

As for me I'd an extrovert and a workaholic working with the public and a hermit at home.I'm described as friendly, outgoing and crazy. I'm highly artistic and enjoy writing, photography and geneaology. On the other hand I'm lazy.

OK everyone-analyze ME.

Feb 18, 2010 Dog vs Cat Ownership
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

I wonder if the good doctor owns either a dog or cat? Hmmm...

We are, of course, more intelligent for having cats (rather than dogs) since we all know how independent cats are; therefore, we are also free to pursue our own independence!

Sure, dogs are pack animals which only goes to show that they go along for the ride...without considering other options. Dogs may be happy-go-lucky creatures; however, they're also drooly, sloppy, (can be) dirty and smelly...PEE-YUU!

Cats are (mostly) stoic, clean, meticulous in thought and deed, and generally take life in stride and decide what they want, when they want and know how to get it...rather than BEG like the lowly dog, LOL!

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