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Are there really such things as “dog people” and “cat people”? According to a poll conducted by the Associated Press and a website that specializes in pet information, yes, and the dog lovers outnumber the cat fans nearly 2 to 1. Not only are there species-specific people, their preference for one or the other is quite clear, and runs fairly deep. Unfortunately for the felines, people find it easier to dislike them, with 15 percent of adults who responded in the poll saying that they weren’t at all fond of cats, a response that was more than 7 times higher than those who could do without dogs, only 2 percent of those questioned. So, what makes someone a devout dog lover or a captive cat person, anyway? Well, part of the divide seems to be the differing relationship that people have had with cats and dogs throughout history, as well as the vestiges of their nature before we domesticated them. Cats in the wild are, for the most part, solitary and nocturnal, while dogs are more inclined to live and hunt in groups and are usually more active by day—not unlike human beings. Even today, dogs still want to be a part of the family, and won’t hesitate to poke and paw their way into whatever we are doing, while cats prefer to observe from afar, coming in to investigate briefly before moving on to something else.
Research has also indicated that an individual’s preference for dogs vs. cats may have something to do with that person’s own unique personality. For example, it was revealed that of those who expressed a clear preference for canines were more outgoing, sociable and agreeable than those who enjoyed the company of cats more. Dog people, it turns out, also tended to be more conscientious when it came to self-discipline and completing tasks. It is thought that this preference for planned and sociable behavior mirrors the cooperative, organization found in many wild dog societies. By contrast, those with a deep fondness for felines were found to be slightly more neurotic, yet also more open to new and unusual experiences, ideas and beliefs, had a greater appreciation for the arts, and displayed a higher degree of curiosity and imagination. Experts discovered that cat lovers, who tended to have a higher degree of openness, were also more likely to hold or explore unconventional beliefs. Those who had a lesser degree of openness were generally those who liked dogs better, and also were more likely to follow traditional beliefs and interests. The survey involved more than 6,100 participants, ranging in age from 16 to 95 years of age, and included people who owned dogs or cats, as well as those who did not have a pet at all.
Another study involving compared people who were exclusively cat owners with those who had a dog or one of each species, showed distinctly different personality and lifestyle differences. Again, the study involved several thousand participants.
One interesting finding was that those who owned a cat were more than 30 percent more likely to live alone, and twice as likely to live in an apartment as those who had a dog, or a dog and a cat. Likewise, dog owners also tended to be married, have children and live in a house twice as often. Single women came in as cat owners at nearly double the rate as single males. Of those who grew up with a pet cat, nearly half were likely to own them as adults, whereas just 10 percent of those who grew up with the family dog own cats as their pets. Looking at the personality aspect revealed that those who were solely cat owners were more likely to also be introverted and have a slightly more cool and aloof personality. Additional findings revealed that exclusive cat owners tended to be less assertive and forceful, and more likely to speak honestly and trust more easily.
Overall, the current research seems to be suggesting that, like the pet they prefer, people who prefer owning dogs, or are willing to own both dogs and cats, mirror their general qualities. Dog lovers tend to be very social and interactive, accepting, and better able to follow through on things. Meanwhile, those who are devout and exclusive cat fans seem to be more introverted and self-sufficient, yet more open and better able to appreciate a wider range of experiences and ideas.