5 Reasons The War Between Dog and Cat People Needs to Stop
It seems like there's been a never-ending argument between certain "dog people" and "cat people," which seems pretty crazy considering how most of us can agree that dogs and cats are both cute and both make good image macros.
A lot of people just seem really invested in proving for whatever reason that one group is better than the other, which is plain silly for a number of reasons.
It's Unsportingly One-Sided
First of all, at least in pop culture today, the cat people seem to be getting the worst of this pointless PR battle. Cat-owning women already know what it's like -- everyone knows about the "crazy cat lady" stereotype. Cat-owning men don't have a great time of it either. But dog owners have no such problem.
Some heterosexual male cat owners feel positive everyone is sizing them up as gay just because they own a cat, or that they have to come up with an excuse that it's only temporary until they get a dog.
Here's another cat owner from a TV series (and now movie) I spent my entire time in Canada avoiding.
A female New York Times blogger complains of New Yorkers looking down on cat owners although the impression I got from TV shows and movies is that New Yorkers will look down on you for eating the wrong kind of bagel.
Anyway, it's pretty obvious cat owners are getting heavily painted as weirdos these days, which leads to the hard-hitting question: are they actually weirdos?
Dog People and Cat People Are Different, But it's Overblown
Sure, Drew Barrymore, cat owner, once allegedly said, "If I die before my cat, I want a little of my ashes put in his food so I can live inside him." On the other hand, Leona Helmsley attempted to leave $12 million to her dog when she died, so we're not going to settle this with anecdotes alone.
Or with pictures of people's crazy pet clothes.
Fortunately studies have been done measuring self-identified "dog people" and "cat people" on a spectrum of five suspiciously-worded personality traits.
Dog people rated slightly higher in the categories of "extroverted," "agreeable" and "conscientious," all very positive sounding traits, while cat people were rated as slightly more "open" and "neurotic." When you realize "open" is basically a code word for "weird," you might start to suspect that this study was conducted by a dog owner. Who was mauled by a cat.
They're more dangerous than they look.
More specifically, "openness" is described as the tendency to hold "unconventional beliefs," which could mean anything from crystal healing to nihilism to Obama being a lizard person from Kenya.
More likely to be found in a cat-only home.
So if you're a self-described cat person, you're slightly more likely to be a shy neurotic 9/11 truther who has trouble getting along with other people and lacks self-discipline. Ouch.
And keep in mind they found no difference between pet owners and non pet owners. No, the only difference is between Dog People and Cat People. There's a reason for it, if you look at the facts. For instance, in the second survey, people who owned both cats and dogs actually scored very similarly to the dog people, so the weirdo label doesn't really stick to people who like cats so much as people who hate dogs.
Which is exactly how Christian Bale figured out the government in Equilibrium was the bad guys.
Or at least, people who don't want the burden of a dog. Cat-only owners were asked if, given adequate living space and no objections from family members/roommates, they would accept a gift of a puppy. Sixty-eight said no. Dog-only owners were asked if they would take a free kitten under the same circumstances, and 70 percent said yes.
They can't possibly have shown them a picture of the puppy or they would have gotten different results.
It makes sense. It's just a fact that cats are less demanding in terms of your time than dogs are. Cats don't need walks, they don't need you to let them out to pee, and they don't fall into a depression if you won't play with them. You can take off for a weekend without having to make elaborate logistical arrangements.
Adding a dog to your cat-only home changes your whole lifestyle. Adding a cat to your dog family doesn't involve a lot of extra trouble, unless the dog tries to eat it.
In other words, "cat people" are people who value their own time, enjoy doing things on their own, and want to be able to spontaneously take off for a weekend and such -- people who don't already have a ton of ties to other people that would prevent them from doing that anyway. And people who really need to be able to get to Roswell quickly when the latest sighting has been reported.
It's not like they're going to conveniently show up at your regularly scheduled conferences, duh.
So some people are boisterous nurturers and some people are adventurous loners. You wouldn't want a world with only one kind. Either nobody would ever discover anything from observing apes in the wild for years, or nobody would be social enough to host parties. And who wants to live in a world where we have no parties or don't know how gorillas have sex?
NEVER MIND! IT WAS A RHETORICAL QUESTION!
Don't let me make too much of the differences, either. With the surveys mentioned earlier you also have kind of a Bell Curve situation, where the differences are in the 10-20% range. Cat owners aren't all crazy shut-ins, they're just 10 percent less extroverted. So hopefully you won't go around repeating these findings like they're absolute proof that it's unnatural to own a cat.
When you should be using this instead.
Related: 5 Ways to Improve Cats
Plus, There are Some Good Differences
Let's take the people with that "openness" trait. It might mean always going on about chakras and reincarnation, but it might also mean they're better at breaking away from backwards habits their family might have instilled in them -- like racism, or saying "irregardless".
Or wearing trucker hats.
Also, the number say cat owners are better educated than dog owners. Researchers don't think that owning a cat actually makes you smart, but that cats being less of a drain on your time means you have more time to go to school.
Unless you can work the service dog angle.
Unfortunately, you'll probably have to keep a copy of that article (or your diploma) to show people, because all that education doesn't really come across whenever you're in close proximity to a cat, as this well-known xkcd comic demonstrates.
Even if you have never literally informed your cat that he is a cat, odds are you have done one of these things (as I am afraid I have):
1) Told them that they are the "best cat"
2) Tried to repeat cat noises back to the cat
3) Given the cat a ridiculously dignified name, like Sir Fluffington or Archimedes
Or 4) Bought them an embarrassingly precious piece of cat furniture.
If you slip up and do that in front of a guest, it's no good pointing at that PhD on the wall, trust me. As for why cats dumb you down like this, I don't know, maybe it's their natural dumbness rubbing off on you.
Yes, cats themselves are pretty dumb despite what cat propagandists would have you believe. Given two pieces of string, one that gives them food all the time and one that doesn't, cats will never learn to pull just the food string, whereas anyone knows a dog will have it figured out pretty fast (but may also eat the string).
Cat intelligence at work.
Sure, dogs are stereotyped as being lovable but dumb, with cats being their cold-blooded intelligent nemeses, but between that study and everyday observations of either animal staring into a blank corner and barking or meowing for no reason, it seems pretty clear that deep down they're all rock fucking stupid, God bless them.
Dog intelligence at work.
It's All Just A Relic of Human Nature
So, sure, cat owners are different from dog owners in some ways, but first, these are big generalizations that don't apply to everyone, and secondly, while some of the ways feed stereotypes of cat owners as antisocial weirdos, other differences paint the dog owners as drooling Neanderthals, if you want to play that game.
A game that can only end in videos from dog shows and clips of cat hoarders.
So why does our culture keep foisting cats on Blofeld and Gargamel characters in the movies and making male cat owners feel like they have to crush beer cans on their forehead every time someone sees them petting their cat?
I think that's why Marc Robertson here took up boxing.
Why do most cat owner vs. dog owner studies look suspiciously like they've been conducted by dog owners whose parents were killed in a cat accident?
Well, humankind is pretty good at blowing up small differences displayed by the most extreme people in a group into hyperbolic stereotypes about that group. If cat owners as a group tend to be slightly less sociable than dog owners, some people will paint any woman with more than two cats as a "crazy cat lady" and some movie makers will put a cat on every sociopathic villain's lap.
Sorry, cat owners, it looks like this is one PR battle you just can't win.
There's Plenty Of Room For Compromise
As the survey shows, most dog owners have some appreciation for kitties, and we can extend that good will to their owners by not automatically questioning their manhood or sanity.
Cat owners, if you can't convince people that owning a cat is perfectly normal and sane, maybe you can meet people halfway and try to act as much like a dog owner as possible.
Take your cat out on a leash, something you can apparently train them to do.
Borrow a dog to walk with it:
Or just take the old cat out for a stroll in Central Park:
On second thought, that just makes it worse. You know what, just man up and take the hit for your cat. The widdle snoogykins deserves it.
You can read Christina's detailed explanation of why adorable kittens are horrible HERE. Or you can browse through the dozens of columns she's written expressing her unreasonable hatred for one thing or another.