Is there really a difference between “cat people” and “dog people?” Maybe, but then, increasingly, the answer is maybe not.
Here’s why: Over a quarter of all pet owners who have at least one dog also have at least one cat, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. That’s millions of pet owners with multi-species homes, and that number appears to be on the rise.
The website Hunch.com recently polled over 200,000 pet owners to learn more about cat people vs. dog people. The headline here suggests, and many people still believe, that a huge divide between “cat people” and “dog people” exists. To me, this divide increasingly diminishes, and the results of this poll actually help demonstrate my point.
Here are some underwhelming “lowlights” from this poll:
The most prominent result is that “dog people” are 15% more likely to be extroverts, and cat people are 11% more likely to be “introverts.”
I asked a social worker friend if you can really determine the difference between an outgoing person and a shy one based on a self-assessment. The answer: a resounding “No.”
No matter, the traditional thinking has been that because dog owners always go out and walk their dogs, they’re more likely to be extroverted, fun people and that people with cats never venture far from home.
I don’t buy it. First off, many dog owners (unfortunately) allow their back yards to be a babysitter, rarely walking their dogs. Besides, people who live in rural America may have few places to walk a dog. And I know many people with cats who are the life of the party, but either feel they don’t have the time for a dog, or perhaps the landlord doesn’t allow them – it hasn’t anything to do with their personalities.
Another finding in the poll: “dog people” are 18% more likely to cheer Paul McCartney as their favorite Beatle; “cat people” prefer George Harrison by 25%. All I can imagine about this result is that John Lennon wasn’t offered as a choice.
According to the poll, “dog people” are 36% more likely to use a pop song as a ringtone. So? What does this mean? I’m pretty certain that point indicates nothing.
I don’t want to believe that about two-thirds of “dog people” will, according to the poll, call animal control if they happen to see stray kittens. However, “cat people” will far more likely attempt to rescue those kittens. I do concede, however, that those numbers could be correct.
Of course, dogs and cats are distinctly different. We can celebrate those differences, respecting each species for their individual benefits. Mine is among those families who live with multiple species: In our case, two dogs, a cat and a lizard. However, I maintain they (the dogs and the cat) are more similar than they are different. Many of the suppositions and stereotypes about cats — and even dogs — just aren’t true. When it comes down to it, all our pets are individuals.
If dogs and cats are indeed more similar than dissimilar, those who say they are decidedly “dog people” or “cat people” mostly haven’t opened their minds to what they haven’t experienced. I consider it their loss.
I couldn’t imagine my life with at least one dog and one cat. Somehow, that entire notion of “cat people” vs. “dog people” ought to be reserved for vintage cartoons. Even if you prefer one species over the other — that’s your privilege — there is no war here. In fact, we need to be on the side, protecting both species.