Cat People: Smart, Introverted, Non-Conforming and Accurately Stereotyped

It's true — Cat people are smart, non-conformist introverts.

It's true — Cat people are smart, non-conformist introverts.

As somebody who enjoys feeling unique, I really hate to be pegged so accurately and succinctly. A recent study, like several others before it, found many personality differences between dog and cat people. According to researchers at Carroll University in Wisconsin, those who love dogs are more outgoing, energetic and more likely to follow rules. Cat lovers, on the other hand, are more introverted, open-minded and non-conformist. As a hard-wired cat lover (I’m indifferent to dogs), I confess that this is a pretty accurate description of me.

Oh, and cat lovers are also supposedly more intelligent overall than dog lovers. Um, yeah, I do hate to be pegged, but I’ll take that one.

The researchers hypothesized that part of a person’s pet preference may have to do with their natural inclinations – in other words, we gravitate toward a certain animal because of our inherent personality traits. This makes sense. Long before I became passionate for cats, I was a strange, bookish child, terrible at sports and questioning everything. Maybe I had cat lover written all over me before I ever had a cat of my own. And maybe most of those other kids screaming on the playground during recess and picking me last to be on their teams grew up to be dog people. I don’t know. I didn’t keep in touch. But considering that 60% of people say they are dog people versus 11% who self-identified as cat people, it’s likely.

If you think about it, linking pet preference and personality makes sense. Having a dog requires that you take him out, and when you do, you are bound to interact with people. I have always been more of a solitary, indoor type, even when it comes to exercise, although I do get some help from the cats when I practice yoga. Dogs thrive with good training – following rules, in other words. Cats? I think most of us who fancy felines love them best when they are breaking rules.

What about all those people who like both dogs and cats? I would make an unscientific but semi-educated guess that they have qualities of both cat and dog people. I can say that because I live with one. My fiancé leans toward dogs, but he loves cats too. He adores our crazy tortie, Binga. Like most dog lovers, he’s athletic – although he hates sports, he works out and is in amazing shape for a guy in his 50s. He’s both social and an introvert – he has lots of friends; he just doesn’t like to have them over and would never, ever throw a party. He follows rules way better than I ever could. He’s also a rock musician which, let’s face it, bucks conformity as far as professions go. He complains when Binga misbehaves, except sometimes I think he’s kind of bragging more than complaining.

I really balk at studies that promote stereotypes – in this case, dog people being outgoing, regular folks and cat people being more internal types who are different from the norm. But I must begrudgingly admit there’s a ring of truth to this. What about you? Are you a typical cat lover or not?

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