I came across a post where a girl was complaining that her boyfriend felt uneasy about staying overnight, because he felt bad about leaving his cat alone. She went on to question whether this was a sign that he (or his cat, or both) had an unhealthy attachment. I wonder if she was expecting comments offering her support, or a “Your boyfriend has serious issues” – because she was sorely disappointed. Among the many pro-boyfriend/pro-cat comments, several women offered to take her boyfriend off her hands, since she didn’t seem to appreciate how sweet, caring, and sensitive he is.
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cat owners and dog owners have different personalities. Cat owners are supposedly sensitive, emotional, and lazy (as a cat owner and based on my personality, I would say yes, yes, and no). Dog owners, on other hand, are supposedly friendlier and more health conscious (walking dog = physically active).
Being who I am (a researcher) and what I do (research), I only use anecdotal evidence as a springboard for scientific research. Here are some studies I dug up on the difference between cat owners and dog owners, and the benefits of pet ownership in general:
- People who own pets are less likely to worry and to be lonely (pets are great sources of social support). They’re more likely to be confident, conscientious, and in better physical shape (McConnell, Brown, Shoda, Stayton, & Martin, 2011).
- When you’re down who do you turn to? Turns out that some dog owners actually prefer to turn to their dogs for comfort – more than their family or friends (Kurdek, 2009).
- Dog owners are more outgoing, conscientious, and friendly, and less anxious. Cat owners are more open-minded (Gosling, Sandy, & Potter, 2010).
- In a study conducted by Denise Guastello, cat lovers scored higher on an intelligence test than dog owners (Chayka, 2014). Don’t know how much stock I’ll put into that statistic, but I am rather witty.
If you can’t decide between getting a cat or a dog, here are my suggestions. All tongue-in-cheek, of course:
- If you’re someone who enjoys – and by that I mean desperately hungers for – affection, a cat might not be for you.
- If you would honestly describe yourself as lazy and/or low maintenance, don’t get a dog.
- If you’ve got a thick skin and are not offended by other people’s indifference, get a cat. Although I think it’s important to point out that even animals have personalities. Some cats can be very affectionate; some dogs can be indifferent or unfriendly.
- If it bothers you to have someone staring at you while you eat with an irresistible “can-I-have-some-too” face…don’t get a dog OR a cat. Mind you, dogs will beg until you give in – cats will just take what they want. So if you admire someone who takes initiative, get a cat.
Chayka, K. (2014, May 30). Studies Show Cat People Are Smarter Than Dog People. TIME Magazine. Retrieved from http://time.com/2798972/studies-show-cat-people-are-smarter-than-dog-people/
Gosling, S. D., Sandy, C. J., & Potter, J. (2010). Personalities of Self-Identified “Dog People and “Cat People”. Anthrozoos, 23(3), 213-222.
Kurdek, L. A. (2009). Pet dogs as attachment figures for adult owners. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(4), 439-446. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0014979
McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239-1252. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024506