The Animal Inside Us

November 2014

There it was on the cover of USA Today while I waited in line at Jiffy Mart, “Your Cat Hates You”. I reached over and grabbed it, intrigued. After all, I’ve always been more of a “dog person”. The article discussed a recent scientific study that apparently proves that cat owners aren’t liked by their cats. Say it isn’t so. How could this be true? Researchers found that cats have an “anxious avoidant” attachment style which suggests they don’t care whether their owners are present or not. A little extreme? Yeah, maybe. But as a former cat owner (three at the same time) I can attest there may be some truth to at least some of the findings.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said they were “dog people”. Eleven percent cats and the rest liked both or had no preference. “Cat people” were more likely to be sensitive and introverted. Dog lovers on the other hand tended to be more outgoing, sociable and energetic. Cat lovers? Non-conformists. Dog lovers? Rule followers. When it came to intelligence, cat owners generally scored higher. Whatever.

After reading the article, I sat back and pondered my past feline relationships. “Was I ever a cat person”? No. Maybe because of this “anxious avoidant” attachment style trait they seem to naturally possess. Dogs on the other hand seem to have an attachment style similar to children in that they need their owners like children need their parents. As I recalled our interactions, I concluded maybe it’s not in the dog or the cat itself, but rather, in us. Maybe my personality didn’t gel with their constant paranoia and neurotic need to run and hide. Granted, an occasional cat may have some dog-like behaviors, but for the most part there seemed to be some truth to this scientific study on “dog people” vs “cat people”. They really do have different personalities.

We’ve all heard cat owners proudly describe their feline friends in that single word; independent. But so too it seems inherent of their owners. On the contrary, dogs tend to be more dependant and reliant on their humans. Maybe this is because “dog people” are more dependant on them. Just a thought.

If you’re considering a new cat or dog, take some time to reexamine your personality and lifestyle first. Then make sure you choose a pet that can reflect on that unique characteristic. If you want a cat that will protect your home in case of an intruder, or at least alert you that someone has arrived at your dooryard, get a home security system instead. Despite the fact that they have an arsenal of razorblades on their toes and can shred anything in seconds, they’re generally scared of everything in sight and make it habit to run and hide. Ok, well at least the house cats do. And when they eventually come out of reclusion, their cautious guard is always on. If you take things personally, like me, it could result in a traumatic hit to your ego.

Likewise, if you’re the super busy type and away for a good portion of the day or evening because of work or other commitments, it’s not fair for both of you to bring a dog into your world. Dogs love company. Leaving them alone for so much time each day can make them depressed at the very least. Dogs aren’t for everyone. So if the limit for your troubles is keeping that houseplant alive, get a cat.

Is there a reason why some of us have preference of dogs over cats?

The answer, I believe, simply lies in us. Maybe it’s the affection. Maybe it’s the companionship. Therefore it’s a debate that will forever remain unsettled. If you need that happy medium, get one of each. But be warned – your cat won’t come when it’s called unless it’s on his terms and conditions. Leave a dog for a few hours and you’ve left them for days if not weeks.

Regardless of dog or cat, we both find attractive qualities in our pets. We love them unconditionally, greet them when we arrive home and shower them with more compliments then we do our own spouses. Ok, most of us anyway. But cat owners remember this: Us dogs owners may not be as intelligent as you, but while you’re at home reading your book because you’re cat doesn’t need to go out for a walk, I bet you can’t explain why our dogs circle before they poop.

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