What is the difference between a cat owner and a dog owner?

I’ve got some personal views about this. We’ve got to be careful not to stereotype people; pigeonhole them into one bracket or category for the simple reason that the answer to the question in the title is not black and white. There is a spectrum of personality types providing care for their cats and dogs. There is a big overlap. And in many homes, there are both cats and dogs because the caregivers like both. There are no personality differences between dog/cat owners versus nonowners.

Preferences for dogs over cats in no way dictate an individual’s personality traits or characteristics. People who prefer dogs may have a variety of personalities, just like those who prefer cats.


I don’t entirely agree with the above statement but there is a lot of common sense in it. Below I touch on some influencing factors why people chose a dog or cat.

What is the difference between a cat owner and a dog owner? A complex question to which a simple answer cannot be provided.
What is the difference between a cat owner and a dog owner? A complex question to which a simple answer cannot be provided. Image by MikeB under license. I have deliberately shown two women interacting with both a cat and dog to avoid stereotyping people.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


The research papers say that dog people score higher marks on extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness but lower marks on neuroticism and openness than cat people. This implies that cat people tend to be more nervous and anxious; negative traits. They have trouble dealing with stress and they have a tendency to complain! Whereas conscientiousness and agreeableness are both very positive traits. I think it is unfair to associate these positive traits in people with dog ownership. I think it is stereotyping and creating false associations.

It’s also usually said that “females [are] more likely to label themselves as cat persons than males”. That’s the result of another study. Well, this also lends itself to stereotyping; the typical cat lady, living alone in her 50s deriving all the pleasure that she needs from companionship from her cats. An insular person and neurotic!

Like I said we have to be very careful about creating stereotypes. This feeds into the current discussion about human gender. There is a spectrum of human personality types in respect of femininity and masculinity. This overlaps with preferences to living with dogs and cats.


It is an incredibly complicated picture which cannot be simplified by simply stating that old, independent, single ladies have cats! And retired military men love dogs and hate cats! This is entirely wrong.

You can oversimplify things and state that artists prefer cats, soldiers prefer dogs, introverts prefer cats, extroverts prefer dogs, rebels prefer cats and authoritarians prefer dogs and so on. Once again this is an oversimplification.

That said, I have a long list of well-known people who’ve lived with cats because they love them, which you can read about by clicking the link. Creative types probably tend to live with cats more than dogs while more conservative, conventional types tend to prefer dogs over cats.

But that statement concerns the two ends of a spectrum. The middle bit is huge and in that middle section there is lots of variability.


Personally, I live with one cat. I have done for a while. I’m male and not gay. But I’m thinking of adopting a dog. I like animals. In fact, I love animals. I’m concerned about their welfare.

There is another factor which dictates or impinges upon one’s choice as to whether you live with a cat or dog and this is separate to your personal preferences. Perhaps you like to live with an animal but you are at work a lot and therefore don’t think that you can do justice to caring for a dog. It is said that dogs shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours at a stretch. People think that you can leave cats alone longer which you probably can but you cannot leave them alone all day despite that idea being embedded in society.


But the point here is that your lifestyle might predispose you to adopting a cat rather than a dog. Conversely if you are retired and have the time to go for long walks, you are a perfect candidate for adopting a dog.

RELATED: Graduates prefer cats to dogs.

The health of the animal is also a factor. There are far more dog breeds than cat breeds. . Many purebred dogs have quite short life spans because they’ve inherited lots of diseases because of inbreeding i.e. selective breeding over a long period of time. The French Bulldog has a 7+ year lifespan which is half that of a standard domestic cat. You might not like that and therefore if you are open to adopting either species you might go for a cat, particularly a rescue cat which might have a lifespan of 18 to 20 years.

These factors are not concerned with pure preference. You might be in the middle ground and your choices dictated by factors other than your personal preferences. This once again complicates the answer.

Some factors influencing choice

Here are some factors which colour one’s opinion as to whether you want to adopt a cat or dog. This information comes from an AI internet scan.

Pet behaviour: cats are considered to be more independent and solitary. Dogs are considered to be more sociable and crave companionship and attention and interaction. They require more time and effort training and exercise. Those differences have to be factored into a choice when adopting one of the other species.

Exercise and play: as mentioned dogs require more exercise and physical activity. They need regular walks. A person’s lifestyle must meet those objectives.

Training and discipline: dogs are more trainable than cats because of their pack mentality. Dog owners spend more time training their pets. Dogs are more amenable to commands from their owner. This tells you about the owner i.e. they might like the idea of controlling their companion animal. They might be more of the disciplinarian type. They like control. This points towards men over women and soldiers compared to non-soldiers!

Time and attention: in an extension of the above, dogs require more attention and time. The caregiver’s lifestyle has to meet this demand. People in jobs working from home are probably better placed to do this. This will colour the outcome as to whether men or women adopt a cat or dog. Perhaps there are more jobs working from home for women than there are jobs for men working from home. That’s what I mean.

Emotional bond: both cats and dogs form very close bonds but the perception is that dogs have a closer bond with their human caregiver then cats. This is probably a misplaced concept but I’ll go with it. Dogs are more loyal than cats. If a person is particularly attracted to loyalty and obedience they’ll probably adopt a dog rather than a cat. What kind of person likes loyalty and obedience? Will this be men or women?

Noise and energy levels: this is about renting accommodation and owning accommodation. As a renter you may have difficulty in obtaining accommodation because the landlord doesn’t want a noisy dog in their property. They may allow cats. These are factors which impinge upon selecting a cat or dog which are outside of the person being male or female or their character.


The point of the article is that it is a complex topic with lots of factors dictating the outcome of an adoption process. One of them will be the personality of the person. That will be the major influence on deciding but there are many others which muddy the picture and prevents me, in any case, providing a clear-cut definitive answer.


  • Personality Characteristics of Dog and Cat Persons
  • Personalities of Self-Identified “Dog People” and “Cat People”

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