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Who's a Dog or Cat Person? Things to Know Before You Choose

July 31st, 2013 Pets

Watching people walking their dogs at all hours or seeing someone cuddling up with a cat on the couch, one can see why dogs and cats are the most popular pets in the U.S. Within American households that have a pet, 39 percent own dogs and 33 percent have cats, reports the American Pet Products Association.

But what leads someone to become an avowed dog person or cat lover? It may have to do with our own personalities than a dog's droopy-eyed cuteness or a cat's head bumps with their owners, the ultimate in cat affection.

First, the practicalities. People with sprawling yards can easily accommodate a large dog while apartment dwellers are often more comfortable with a small dog or cat. Families with young children can romp with a dog, but older people and singles are more to want the low-maintenance and mellow activity level of a smaller animal. People also tend to adopt the type of animal they had as children growing up.

Personalities and pets
Practical concerns aside, there is evidence that those who think of themselves as dog people are more outgoing and conscientious than individuals who love cats. In feline households, the pet owner is often creative and adventurous, but also more likely to have an anxious temperament.

These characteristics were borne out by a University of Texas study that surveyed more than 4,500 people to to find out their preference for dogs or cats in relation to their personality traits.

"There is a widely held cultural belief that the pet species - dog or cat - with which a person has the strongest affinity says something about the individual's personality," said study author Sam Gosling.

Hunch.com polled more than 200,000 people for its report, "Woof vs. Meow - What Our Furry Pals Reveal About Us," and went beyond personality to examine differences in habits and likes of dog and cat people.

For instance, Hunch found dog people prefer slapstick humor and comic impressions and cat lovers enjoy ironic humor and puns. For dog lovers, zoos are happy places to spend time, while cat people are happy at home writing to their followers on Twitter. Classic rock and electronic music appeals to cat owners, but jam bands and reggae are more appealing to dog people. When they turn on TV, dog lovers will turn on American Idol than cat owners, who are more likely to be watching CSI, according to the findings.

Making the choice
So how does this translate into day-to-day life with a cat or dog? On a functional level, it comes down to high- or low-maintenance, and the time and money it takes to take care of a pet properly.

Every day and in all kinds of weather, a dog needs to be walked once or twice a day. When their owners aren't around, someone has to be assigned - or paid - to take them out. They need more exercise than cats, especially the larger breeds for whom activity is second nature.

With automatic feeders and a clean litter box, cats can spend a weekend by themselves, staying occupied by looking out the window at birds and squirrels. They are happy to play with their toys with or without their owners, and often make that choice themselves.

Unlike with dogs, it may be difficult to train cats to do tricks, but they learn proper bathroom behavior almost immediately. It takes dogs a while to become housebroken.
All of this, and the temperaments and personalities of their owners will ultimately determine which type of animal is a better fit for a particular human.