"I'm a cat person."
"I'm a dog person."
Innocent enough statements, but some people consider them fighting words. They can be a deal-breaker for dating couples, they can bring a blooming friendship to a halt. If you dare to tell someone you are a dog person, the first thing a cat person usually want to know is, "Why don't you like cats!?" and vice versa. If you're not big on drama, then avoid this question at all costs: Are you a cat person or a dog person?
But come on, just because you prefer dogs doesn't mean you automatically hate cats, right? And some people love cats and dogs equally. So, why the great divide? Why the emotional battle? Are cat and dog people really that different? Can't we all just get along? Hopefully, a view from both perspectives will lead to a world of more open-minded cat and dog people. Maybe. Hey, we can dream right?
The Psychology of Dog People and Cat People
Generally speaking, we humans choose our pets based on the human qualities we see in their behavior, specifically qualities we admire and hope other people see in us. So as you can imagine, dog people just love the way dogs are team players and people-pleasers. Dogs are in tune to humans' feelings and always try to make their owners happy. Plus, dogs are highly trainable and very loyal - sometimes to the point of being heroic. Qualities that are sorely lacking in cats, dog people say. Seriously, remember Hachi? No cat ever loved his owner that much, they say.
Cat people don't really see it that way, though. In fact, a cat's aloofness is part of their appeal. Cats are more intelligent and independent, and less clingy, cat people say. (Not getting it? See Zoltan Kaszas on why cats are better than dogs, who says, "I don't need that kind of energy in my house, you know that annoying dog best-friend-in-your-face all the time energy. I just need an apathetic roommate that sometimes wants to hang out.") Cats are sleek and graceful, they are low-maintenance and can't be easily won over. It takes work to earn their purrs and bread kneading, and cat people appreciated being loved because they deserve it, not just because they have a treat in their pocket.
Turns out, science has even weighed in on the matter of dog and cat people. One survey revealed the following findings:
• Dog owners are twice as likely to work in finance, which is good since dogs tend to cost over 25% more to maintain than cats. Dog owners prefer horror and action films and usually prefer active lifestyles involving sports, travel, dancing, yoga, etc.
• Cat owners, on the other hand, are four times as likely to work in a creative field and prefer calmer activities, such as watching documentaries, reading, writing gardening.
Another study had this to say: "[Dog lovers] tended to be more lively - meaning they were more energetic and outgoing - and also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules."
Then there are the practical aspects. Cats are best suited to people who work long hours and dogs are better for people with very active lifestyles. Truthfully, both animals make great pets and have their place in society.
So, are you a cat person or a dog person? Dare you answer? If you do, just remember to appreciate the good qualities (and overlook the annoying ones) in every kind of pet person. In fact, why not change the paradigm completely and replace the question, "Are you a cat person or a dog person?" with "Are you a pet person?"