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Pet Health and You: The Truth About Cat People and Dog People

Can a Pet Predict Your Personality?

Photo of cat and dog people.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? The answer may say a lot about your personality. A survey done by the University of Texas at Austin found that some common ideas about pet lovers may be true. You may also be a lot more like your furry friend than you ever realized. Browse our gallery to see where you stand -- and how other Americans divide into cat people vs. dog people.

Personality Trait: Conscientious

Photo of dog holding newspaper.

The online survey asked people to rate themselves as "cat people" or "dog people." Then people answered questions designed to reveal their true personality. Dog people were 11% more conscientious than cat people. What it means:

  • Self-disciplined
  • Strong sense of duty
  • Tend to be "planners"

Personality Trait: Extroverted

Photo of spaniel running.

Do you seize the day? If you’re a dog person, it’s likely that you do. Dog people were 15% more extroverted than cat people in the survey. What it means:

  • Outgoing
  • Enthusiastic
  • Positive
  • Energetic

Personality Trait: Open

Photo of cats looking out the window.

Are you open to trying new things? Cat people were 11% more likely to be open, according to the survey. Open people tend to be:

  • Curious
  • Creative
  • Artistic
  • Nontraditional thinkers

Personality Trait: Agreeable

Photo of golden retriever.

According to the survey, if you're a dog person, you're 13% more likely to be agreeable than a cat person. Agreeable people tend to be:

  • Trusting
  • Altruistic
  • Kind
  • Affectionate
  • Sociable

Personality Trait: Neurotic

Photo of wide-eyed kitten.

If you get stressed out easily, you may be a cat person. Cat people were 12% more neurotic than dog people. Neurotic people are:

  • Easily stressed
  • Anxious
  • Worriers

The Typical Dog Person

Photo of a dog person.

If dogs tend to be energetic, faithful, and easy to get along with, well, so do the people who love them. But survey author and psychologist Sam Gosling, PhD, admits that the differences between cat and dog people aren't huge. "There are certainly many, many cat people who are extroverts and many, many dog people who aren't," Gosling says.

The Typical Cat Person

Photo of a cat person.

Do you prefer to spend time on your own? Always game to try new things? Then you could be a cat person. The survey found that cat owners were more likely to be curious, unconventional in thinking and actions, and more prone to worry than dog people.

Dog People Outnumber Cat People

Photo of dog and cat.

Nearly half of those who took the survey call themselves dog people. Just 12% say they are cat people. How many people love both cats and dogs? A little more than a quarter of the group. Overall, pet lovers rule the nation. Just 15% of people said they don't like cats or dogs.

Doggie Upside: Loving and Loyal

Photo of girl napping with dog.

Dogs have rightfully earned their reputation as man’s best friend. No matter the size or breed, a dog provides a lifetime of love and loyalty. Dogs are social animals, and they thrive on human companionship. Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, also make excellent protectors.

Doggie Downside: Must Be Trained

Photo of a puppy biting a pant leg.

Even the best dog can have some not-so-cute behaviors. Dogs bark, jump up, dig, tug at the leash, or even growl and bite. To curb bad behavior, you need to teach your dog what’s OK and what’s not. Some dogs are easy to train, while others take more time and practice. Either way, your time and money spent on obedience classes will make your dog a delightful pal for years to come.

Kitty Upside: Independent

Photo of a cat in a tree.

Cats are famously low-maintenance. They don't need to be bathed or taken for walks. They can be left on their own for hours at a time. Even though cats like to do their own thing, they still need plenty of love and attention. Devote some time each day to playing with your cat, grooming her, or just giving her some TLC.

Kitty Downside: Can Be Standoffish

Photo of a cat playing in grass.

Some cats love to socialize, but others prefer to stay hidden, especially when new people visit. In fact, your friends may not even realize you have a cat! Cats who weren’t around people enough as kittens may be skittish. Even the friendliest cat will jump off your lap and sashay off when he’s had enough of your attention.

Doggie Upside: Boundless Energy

Photo of woman running with her dog.

If you’re looking for a playmate, it doesn’t get much better than a dog. Most breeds are playful and love to be outdoors. A dog can be a great companion for jogging, hiking, or a leisurely stroll in the park. If you’re trying to get in shape, Fido is a fantastic exercise companion. Exercise is as important for dogs as it is for people.

Doggie Downside: Hair Everywhere

Photo of dog hair.

All dogs shed at least a little, even the breeds thought to be better for people with allergies. The longer and thicker the coat, the more dog hair you'll find on your clothes, rugs, and furniture. Dogs' coats can also get dirty and matted, so expect to bathe and brush your dog or pay someone to do it for you.

Kitty Upside: Cozy Companion

Photo of an older man with his cat.

When it comes to cuddling, cats take the prize. And most cat owners will tell you the sound of a purring cat is deeply soothing. In fact, when researchers looked closely they found stress levels and blood pressure dropped slightly in people who snuggled up to a purring kitty.

Kitty Downside: The Litter Box

Photo of litter box.

Nobody likes cleaning the litter box. But having one is essential if you have a cat. Your cat’s litter box will need to be cleaned at least once a day. The litter should be changed weekly to avoid unpleasant odors. If you have more than one cat, you may need multiple litter boxes to accommodate them.

What Is Your Dog Saying?

Photo of a growling dog.

If you know dog body language, you can tell how he's feeling and what he's trying to say. Dogs may:

  • Widen their eyes if they feel threatened
  • "Grin" as a sign of submission
  • Pull ears back when they're feeling friendly
  • Make themselves look smaller when they're scared

What Is Your Cat Saying?

Photo of a cat rubbing on a leg.

Watch your cat's behavior to figure out her state of mind. Cats may:

  • Let the tail droop when sick or unhappy
  • Twitch their ears when agitated
  • Flutter their eyelids to show trust
  • Knead their paws to show contentment

Other Pets to Consider: Rabbits

Photo of a puppy and bunny.

Rabbits can make great house pets. Besides being soft and adorable, they are quite social and affectionate and can use a litter box. However, they generally don't like to be picked up, which means they may not be ideal for young children. Rabbits also love to chew, and if they're allowed to roam freely in your house they may damage furniture or electrical cords.

Other Pets to Consider: Reptiles

Photo of a lizard on a leash.

Do your research before getting a lizard, turtle, or snake. Reptiles are not low-maintenance pets. Many can live 15 years or longer, and snakes and lizards can grow to be quite large. Reptiles also need special habitats, and this can be expensive. Carnivorous types need live food, like worms, crickets, or mice.

Other Pets to Consider: Fish

Photo of a cat looking at a gold fish.

An aquarium full of fish can be fun to watch and a great stress reliever. Choose the type that fits your time and budget. Two goldfish and a fishbowl is an easy start. A saltwater tank full of tropical fish takes more time but can be an absorbing hobby.

Other Pets to Consider: Birds

Photo of a parrot and puppy.

If you want a pet you can talk to, a bird is the only way to go. Parrots can put together meaningful phrases and may have a vocabulary of 100 words or more. Even birds that can’t talk are highly intelligent and entertaining – with a long lifespan that offers you companionship for 10 to 40 years, depending on the species.

Should You Keep an Exotic Animal?

Photo of a sugar glider.

Monkeys and sugar gliders have become popular as pets in recent years. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize what they’re getting into when they bring an exotic pet home. Animals may become malnourished or obese if they're notfed the proper diet. They may be destructive or dangerous. Bottom line: Bringing an exotic animal into your home takes extraordinary research and commitment.

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on 4/7/2014

Pet Health and You: The Truth About Cat People and Dog People

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