Cat vs. Dog People
“I have lived with many Zen masters, all of them cats.”
I have always been a cat person. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. I do. But they just aren’t a good ‘fit’ for my personality. I realize I am in the pet minority. Approximately eighty-five million US families own pets. A 2018 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) revealed 60.2% own dogs, while 47.1% own cats.
Let’s face it. Americans love dogs, and dog owners far outweigh cat families. They are loyal, playful, and adaptable. They are easier to train (Seriously, who has ever heard of a guide or therapy cat)? They are faithful companions, often referred to as man’s best friend.
So why do certain individuals prefer either dogs or cats? University of Texas psychologist Samuel Gosling conducted a ground-breaking study (Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, 2010) to determine the personality traits of ‘dog’ versus ‘cat’ people. Approximately 4,500 participants answered questions in five areas encompassing most personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
His findings revealed that dog lovers tend to be:
15% more extroverted, 13% more agreeable, and 11% more conscientious (being able to
display self-discipline and aim for personal achievement) than cat people.
More confident and dominant than cat people.
More conservative than cat people.
Have more traditional values.
Dog owners are more compliant in following rules.
Work in senior management.
Live in Arkansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Missouri, or West Virginia.
Dog owners tend to be more left-brained, and process information in a logical-sequential manner. They are analytical, logical, and pay attention to detail.
On the other hand, cat-people are more likely to be right-brained. They are ‘big-picture’ thinkers, processing information in a holistic, intuitive way.
Gosling’s research findings reveal cat owners are 12% more neurotic/anxious than those with dogs. However, this may be because cats are far less likely to constantly reassure their owners (They are often too busy doing whatever they feel like at moment!). Furthermore, cat lovers are 11% more ‘open’ than dog people (holding a greater appreciation for art and emotion, while possessing a stronger sense of imagination than their counterparts).
Additionally, cat owners:
Tend to be nonconformists and hold unorthodox beliefs.
Are more intellectually curious than dog people
Overall, are more sensitive than dog people.
Are more independent (As already noted, dog owners tend to be more sociable ‘rule followers’).
Have a tendency to be politically liberal.
Live in Vermont, Maryland, Oregon, South Dakota, or Washington.
Be a physician or scientist.
Cat people are more likely to be either atheists, or consider themselves spiritual, rather than religious.
According to research presented at the 2014 Association of Psychological Science (Sorry, no affront to dog people!), cat lovers are smarter than dog-owners. Initial research has determined that feline fans scored higher on intelligence tests (Hmmmm, I personally question this-I know a lot of brilliant dog owners)!
Thus, it does seem there exists a general ‘cat vs. dog owner personality type.’ Anecdotal research demonstrates that cat lovers are drawn to Anomalous and/or Highly Sensitive-Prone personality types.
An Anomalously Sensitive Person (ASP) exhibits uncommonly high levels of sensitivity, not only in the emotional realm, but also in the physiological, cognitive, altered states of consciousness, and transpersonal (“metaphysical,”) realms as well.
Most frequently, ASP’s have finely tuned perception, enabling them to “see” beyond the five senses. These individuals frequently report experiencing unique phenomena. Psychiatrist James Lake defines anomalous personality types as, “Characterized by a propensity to have uncommon or unusual experiences including paranormal experiences, mystical experiences, and transpersonal experiences.”
Could cats be considered “feline ASPs”? Sounds far-fetched? Maybe not. For centuries, domesticated cats have been associated with divine energy, mysticism, and the paranormal. Throughout history, they have been worshiped and/or revered.
According to Egyptologist Melinda Hartwig, “Ancient Egyptians believed that cats held a bit of divine energy within them. The most widespread belief was that domestic cats carried the divine essence of Bastet (or Bast), the cat-headed goddess who represented fertility, domesticity, music, dance and pleasure.”Even today, numerous people continue to associate cats with the supernatural, inexplicable, and paranormal.
This leads us to ask, “Why, exactly, are ASP’s drawn to cats, and vice versa”?
It is widely held that cats are highly sensitive to energetic fields. Spiritually attuned people (including us ASPs) possess strong energy fields that vibrate at high frequencies. Think of it like two beings (person and cat) who are an energetic match. Thus, cats are drawn to spiritual people, just as spiritual people are drawn to felines. They are mutually attracted energetically and by personality.
Is it fair to gauge an individual’s personality type based on their preference for dogs or cats? Yes and no. Yes, if one owns either a dog or cat. However, what if an individual is a multiple pet owner? A 2006 Gallop poll revealed that 17% of the US population owns both a dog and cat.
Hmmmm. So does this mean a dog/cat owner votes neither Democrat nor Republican, but Independent? Or that he is compliant, yet simultaneously a non-conformist? Or both quiet and boisterous? This is where it gets a little sticky. How do we determine if a multiple pet owner is more partial to their dog or cat? Are they a dog, cat, or dog-cat person? Perhaps an important reason we choose a dog or cat is that they fit our life-style/health. For example, apartment dweller vs. home owners, career/travel schedule, pet allergies, our energy level, being single vs. having a family with children, etc.
Perhaps this is best summed up by two anonymous subjects is Gosling’s study:
“My dogs and cats each feed a different part of my soul.”
I however, will always remain a cat-person. My energy and personality traits fit like an interlocking piece of a cat puzzle. We are both inquisitive, independent, and unique.
P.S. My favorite bit of pet research:
“Rabbit-people are the most introverted and neurotic of all pet owners”
Fluffy, adorable, creatures. Go figure.