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Are Cat Lovers Smarter Than Dog Lovers? Personality Characteristics of Dog and Cat Lovers

Updated on July 2, 2017
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As a psychology major at the University of North Texas, C. E. Clark found, and continues to find psychology endlessly fascinating.

Who Would Think of Measuring the Intelligence of Dog Lovers and Cat Lovers In the First Place?

Believe it or not, I was looking for an article on teleportation when I was distracted by headlines jumping out at me that there had been a study determining that cat lovers scored higher on intelligence tests than dog lovers. I was amazed first of all, that anyone would even think to conduct a study about such a thing.

The study was done recently with the results being reported in late May of this year (2014). One of the researchers was Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Guastello presented the findings at the annual Association for Psychological Science meeting, which Rachael Rettner was attending in order to take notes for the report she was going to write for Live Science. That report was reprinted on Huff Post Science where I first saw it.

After I read Rettner’s report, which I found very interesting, I went about searching for other studies and research that might back up the findings of the Carroll University Study – or refute them. The Carroll University Study was small, with just 600 participants who were all college students. While interesting, such a small study involving a limited class of people compared to the general population, could just be a fluke, so I searched further.

Imagine Having a Dog This Huge!

Hercules, an English mastiff, was once in the Guinnes book of records as the world's biggest dog --282 lbs in 2007
Hercules, an English mastiff, was once in the Guinnes book of records as the world's biggest dog --282 lbs in 2007 | Source

More Men Prefer Dogs

Isn't he a cutie?  Yes, of course I meant the dog!
Isn't he a cutie? Yes, of course I meant the dog! | Source

Tom Hanks Is a Dog Lover

Tom Hanks and Monty who was Tom's best friend until he died in January of 2012.
Tom Hanks and Monty who was Tom's best friend until he died in January of 2012. | Source

More Studies and Polls About Dog & Cat Lovers

There have been a lot more studies done previously with larger numbers of participants and with greater age and background variety. The results of all these studies have been essentially the same! When several studies have been conducted in exactly the same way and have rendered the same results, those results are taken a lot more seriously by scientists, and in this case, psychologists.

Personally, I think the results show good points about both dog and cat lovers. It really comes down to personalities and preferences. Keep in mind as you peruse the findings that there really is no right or wrong in this case, but simply different. What is wrong with being different? Life would be dull if we were all clones of each other, would it not?

Well, I just had to share the results of this spur of the moment research project because I know there are lots of dog and cat lovers ‘out there,’ who will find the results of these studies interesting.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a non-profit organization representing veterinarians, on the demographics of U.S. pet ownership, did a poll back in 2012. Some 50,000 pet owners across the U.S. were questioned. It was discovered that the preference for cats or dogs for pets generally fell along regional lines.

It seems the majority of dog owners tend to live in the east and west south central part of the United States while cat owners tend to live in New England and along the Pacific coast.

The state with the most dog owners was Arizona and the state with the most cat owners was Vermont.

The poll found that dogs are America’s main preference for a pet with 43.3 million households owning one or more dogs. Cats were the second preference with 36 million households including at least one cat.

Pet ownership of all kinds of animals has decreased in recent years and it is believed that is due to the economy.

Prince Harry Loves Dogs

Prince Harry of England is a dog lover.
Prince Harry of England is a dog lover. | Source

Cat Lovers are Smarter According to the Carroll University Study

The study by Carroll University, Wisconsin found that cat owners scored higher on intelligence tests than dog owners.

-- Real Clear Science --

Gosling, Sandy, & Potter, 2010 Study With Similar Results to the Carroll University Study

A large study, Gosling, Sandy, & Potter, 2010, that included more than 4500 participants of different ages and from different walks of life, found the same results as the Carroll University Study.

Some people choose whether or not to have a pet, and what kind of pet to have, based on their lifestyle. The focus of the study by Gosling, Sandy, and Potter (2010) was whether people identified themselves as being a dog person, a cat person, both, or neither.

Participants were not determined to be either a cat person or a dog person or neither because of the pet they owned, or did not own, but by how they thought of themselves in this context, and they self-reported what category they thought they fit into best.

Cats Are Less Work

These kittens remind me of ones I had when I was a child.  They look exactly like them.  I especially love black cats.
These kittens remind me of ones I had when I was a child. They look exactly like them. I especially love black cats. | Source

The Breakdown on Where Different Participants Placed Themselves was as Follows:

* The largest group, more than 45% of participants, self reported that they considered themselves dog lovers.

* The second largest group, 27.7%, self-identified as both dog and cat lovers.

* The third largest group self-identified as neither cat or dog lovers -- 15%.

* The smallest group self-identified as cat lovers-- only 11.5%.

Scott A. McGreal, writing for Psychology Today (April 16, 2013), said, “One thing I found interesting about this was that dog people tended not to differ much from those who identified as both a dog and a cat person and from those who were neither. Cat people on the other hand tended to differ noticeably from all the other groups, suggesting that cat people stand out from the crowd more.”

Cat Lovers Tend to Be Open-Minded People

“That is, people who are more closed to experience tend to look on more open-minded people as out of touch with reality, whilst those who are high in openness to experience tend to look down on those who are more closed as dense and uncultured. Therefore, dog people might not care overly much about openness to experience, whereas cat people might prize it as part of their individuality.”

Scott A. McGreal -- Psychology Today

Characteristics of Dog and Cat Lovers

Realize that there are exceptions to every rule. Some cat lovers are extroverted and conformist, while some dog lovers are introverts and rule breakers. There may be other exceptions as well.

The following traits assigned to dog and cat lovers came about because of all the people who took part in the studies referenced here. The majority of dog and cat lovers exhibited the particular characteristics listed. A majority is 51% or more. It is not 100%. Keep that in mind as you read through the various assigned traits.

Dog Lover's Personality Traits

Dog lovers tend to be loyal, direct, kind, faithful, helpful, and team players. They are usually more energetic, outgoing, agreeable, and conscientious (follow rules closely) than a cat lover. Dog lovers tend to be conformists who follow the crowd. They are more likely to have a pop song for a ring tone, while cat lovers are more likely to have a college degree. Dog lovers seem to be generally happier people overall than cat people are.

Like dogs, the people who confess that they prefer dogs over cats tend to be sociable with an affectionate nature. Dogs require more care than cats, and dog people seem to need more attention and social interaction than cat lovers do.

Carole Lombard Was a Cat Lover

Carole Lombard was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s.  Do any of my readers remember her?
Carole Lombard was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s. Do any of my readers remember her? | Source

Some Men Prefer Cats

Some men prefer their cats.  Cats are independent and affectionate.
Some men prefer their cats. Cats are independent and affectionate. | Source

Cat Lover's Personality Traits

Cat lovers are often graceful, subtle, independent, intelligent, thoughtful, mysterious, aloof, introverted, laid-back, expedient, and quiet.

Cat lovers were also more open to experience and more neurotic than dog persons, more sensitive emotionally and more sensitive to stress.

Cats are also noted for “doing their own thing” whereas dogs tend to “follow the crowd.” People who are high in openness to experience tend to be non-conformists who like to follow their own interests rather than blend in with other people. They are more likely to push the line and buck the system than dog lovers.

Cats and Dogs Make Good Friends

Dogs and cats can be good friends when introduced to each other early in their lives.  Pictured here:  an Italian Greyhound & Sphinx cat.
Dogs and cats can be good friends when introduced to each other early in their lives. Pictured here: an Italian Greyhound & Sphinx cat. | Source

Amazing Super Cat to the Rescue!

Some people say dogs are more intelligent than cats because they can be trained to be useful -- guard dogs, drug sniffing or bomb sniffing dogs, service dogs that assist handicapped people, etc.

Here is a video of a guard cat that flies to the rescue of her 4-year old best friend when he is attacked by a neighbor’s dog. Click here to watch, it’s just 2 minutes and worth seeing.

Sources

Psychology Today

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201304/cat-people-are-more-distinctive-dog-people


University of Texas, Austin

http://www.mckendree.edu/academics/scholars/issue18/paluska.htm


Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/cat-people-dog-people-intelligence_n_5412245.html


Live Science

http://www.livescience.com/13884-kitty-kitty-10-facts-cat-lovers.html

http://www.livescience.com/45894-dog-cat-people-personalities.html


ABC News

http://abcnews.go.com/US/dog-people-cat-people-pet-preference/story?id=15883844


Real Clear Science

http://www.realclearscience.com/2014/05/29/039cat_people039_more_intelligent_than_039dog_people039_259240.html


Time.com

http://time.com/2798972/studies-show-cat-people-are-smarter-than-dog-people/


ABC News on the AVMA poll

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2013/06/the-truth-about-cat-and-dog-owners/

© 2014 C E Clark

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