7 Differences Between Dog People and Cat People

Studies, surveys and even some of the greatest poets of the world have concluded there are real differences in personality between self-proclaimed cat and dog people.

University of Texas professor Sam Gosling, who conducted a 2010 study titled "Personalities of self-identified dog people and cat people," said at the time that "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".

The study stated that the two species have "real and perceived differences," so their personalities would be best suited to specific people. Here is what has been found regarding the personality traits and the type of domesticated animal owned.

Not everyone fits the mold and the findings of these studies, of course. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, meanwhile, dispelled the widely held perception that dogs are more interested in their owners than cats are.

1. Dog People Are Energetic, Cat People Are Low Energy

Stock image of dog with owner
Dog lovers found companionship to be the most attractive quality in their pet dogs, while cat people liked the affection from their cats. Getty Images

In a 2014 study at Carroll University, Wisconsin, by Denise Guastello, researchers surveyed 600 college students. About 60 percent of participants identified themselves as dog people, compared with 11 percent who said they were cat people.

Of those, dog lovers were found to be more energetic than cat owners, as having a dog keeps people active. On the other hand, cat owners prefer activities that require little energy such as reading or cooking since they don't need to take their cat out for a walk.

2. Cat People Are More Independent Than Dog People

A Bengal cat laying on a bed.
A Bengal cat laying on a bed. iStock/Getty Images Plus

Cats are often described as independent animals that tend to keep to themselves and are wary of others. Surveys and research studies aside, great writers have also written about dogs versus cats independent spirit. T.S.Elliot wrote in his 1947 poem "The Ad-Dressing of Cats:"

"Cats are much like you and me,with Cats, some say, one rule is true / Don't speak till you are spoken to / Myself, I do not hold with that-I say, you should ad-dress a Cat / But always keep in mind that he resents familiarity".

The great poet Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973), a Nobel Laureate in literature and a sharp observer of human and animal behaviour, referred to a cat as an "independent wild beast of the house, arrogant vestige of the night."

3. Dog Owners Are More Likely To Be Extroverts, Cat Owners Introverts

Stock image of dog with owner
A stock image of dog playing with its owner. Getty Images

Following the publication of Carroll University's 2014 study, associate professor Denise Guastello said "it makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they're going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog.

"Whereas, if you're more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you're more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn't need to go outside for a walk."

Or as Pablo Neruda wrote in his famous poem "A Dog Has Died:"

"Joyful, joyful, joyful / as only dogs know how to be happy / with only the autonomy / of their shameless spirit."

4. Dog People Follow Rules Closely, Cat People Are Non-Conformists

A 2015 study about how dog people and cat people differ on dominance-related traits by Deakin University's Beatrice Alba and University of Melbourne's Nick Haslam, concluded that "individuals who are high on these traits tend to prefer submissive pets such as dogs, whose temperament complements their preference for dominance."

T.S.Elliot would agree with them as he wrote that a dog is, on the whole, "what you would call a simple soul".

Pablo Neruda would disagree with the study and his fellow poet, at least when referring to the personality of his dead dog, writing his "was the friendship of a star, aloof, with no more intimacy than was called for, with no exaggeration."

5. Cat People Are More Open Minded Than Dog People

The University of Texas' 2010 study found that dog people prefer to plan in advance and enjoy having a firm daily routine in place.

On the other hand, cat owners—who can leave their pets alone for longer periods—are a bit more relaxed when it comes to planning ahead, and are more open to new experiences and unconventional beliefs.

6. Blue States Prefer Cats, GOP States Prefer Dogs

According to 2014 data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, "U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook," the United States is a country torn between cats and dogs.

People in Republican states have the highest rate of dog ownership, while residents of Democratic states are more likely to keep a cat as a pet.

7. Cat People Are Bigger Worriers Than Dog People

A cat looking at food.
A cat looking at food on a table. iStock / Getty Images Plus

The 2010 University of Texas study found that cat lovers tend to be more prone to anxiety and neurotic disorders than dog people.

It said that those who define themselves as "dog people" are more extroverted and agreeable than self-described "cat people," who were said to be bigger worriers.

At the end of the day, what matters is that both dog and cat people love their pets.