Are you a cat person or a dog person? Research suggests that your preference can reveal certain aspects of your true personality.
Pet owners have been pigeonholed for almost as long as cats and dogs have been domesticated. Cat owners are typically seen as having aloof, cautious and independent personalities. Dog owners, on the other hand, are seen to be playful, outgoing and loyal. But should we really pay attention to these stereotypes?
Does your choice of pet affect your personality?
It might seem unlikely, but it turns out there really might be a link between personality and pet preference. Researchers from the University of Texas examined five main character traits — extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness — to see whether there were any differences between people who identified as cat people or dog people.
They found that most respondents who identified themselves as introverted and sensitive were cat lovers, while those who said they were extroverted and agreeable were more typically dog people.
Cat lover personality traits
If you’re a cat lover, take a look at these insights into a typical cat person, and see if they sound familiar…
1. Cat lovers are individualistic
Cat people are generally more introverted than dog people. While dog owners might prefer spending time outdoors and seeking out opportunities for social interaction, cat people seem to prefer spending time at home with their pets. Possibly even curled up together, taking an afternoon nap!
Cat lovers also see themselves as non-conformist and won’t necessarily follow the rules. That sometimes leads them to being unfairly labelled as eccentric or individualistic, when in reality they’re just happy to follow their own path, much like their independent pets.
2. Cat lovers are curious
Another study found (perhaps controversially for dog people!) that cat people typically score more highly in intelligence tests than those who prefer dogs. They’ve generally reached a higher level of education, too.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean all cat owners are smarter than their dog-loving counterparts, it could indicate that, like their pets, cat owners are curious and open to new experiences. Those new experiences might include a desire to learn new things and continue their education.
Cat people also show fewer dominance-related traits like competitiveness, so the independent and curious nature of their cats could complement their personality. While some cats enjoy learning new tricks, many others prefer to spend their time doing their own thing instead.
3. Cat people are complex
The blend of personality traits reported by cat lovers is extremely varied. Cat lovers show far more diversity than the groups of people who said they prefer dogs, or those who like dogs and cats, and people who had no pet preference. This makes the ‘typical’ personality traits for cat people hard to pin down, confirming that cat lovers are unconventional and don’t necessarily follow the rules.
Cat people do seem to score more highly for neurotic personality traits than dog people. This may make them more prone to feeling worried, stressed, or anxious. It’s a good thing then, that the sounds and vibrations of a cat’s purr might help relieve stress and lower blood pressure.
What about dog people?
What if you love dogs more than cats, or can’t choose between the two? Research suggests that dog lovers tend to be more extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious than cat lovers. They’re also less likely to feel stressed or anxious. Dog people are often more competitive, which could link to enjoying the teamwork and training aspect of dog ownership.
For any pet lover, the good news is that sharing your life with a dog or cat has been shown to offer plenty of positive impacts including companionship, comfort and reduced anxiety. Ultimately, any research into the personalities of cat people versus dog people should be taken as a fun insight rather than something that’s been definitively proven.
Do any of the typical personality traits of cat people sound familiar to you? Or do you break the mould? Let us know on social media using the tag #PethoodStories.