While I was growing up, my family always had dogs. If I am counting correctly, we had six different ones between when I was born and when I went away to college. I grew up used to dogs, and liking dogs.
We never had cats, and I never liked cats much. I had a friend in elementary school who had two cats named Jinx and Leo. They never seemed interested in people, and in fact seemed positively hostile at times. My aunt and uncle used to have a large, fluffy, orange cat named Carmela, who I liked a little better simply because she had such personality (which mostly centered around her insatiable desire for food and dislike of having her belly or feet touched). In addition, I have been allergic to cat hair my whole life.
Since I’ve been living with Mary’s parents, though, things have started to change. They have two dogs and four cats, and I must admit that I didn’t like either the dogs or the cats at first. I didn’t like the cats mostly because of my prior dislike of cats and my allergy (plus my self-identification as a “dog person”), and I didn’t like the dogs because they are far more neurotic than any other dog I have ever known.
One of them also is very independent and has a bark so high-pitched that it could activate a garage-door opener. I can’t blame them, since their breed and upbringing are not their fault, but I don’t have to like them.
More recently, though, I have taken a liking to one of the cats, named Chloe. She is an indoor cat , doesn’t particularly care for the other three cats, and is extremely affectionate. For many months I would have nothing to do with her, but she persistently kept trying to crawl onto my lap or put her head under my hand. Eventually, I found that I actually liked a cat.
This nearly caused an identity crisis. Could I be a “cat person” now? Thankfully, I came across this study conducted by Ball State University before I had to seek therapy. According to the study, what “cat people” love about most cats is that they are independent and not submissive, and what “dog people” love about dogs is that they tend to be more friendly and submissive.
Surveys and interviews of 266 college-age pet guardians found the majority of cat owners see themselves as having personalities similar to felines such as being less submissive and more independent while most dog owners believe they are friendly and dominant and suit the characteristics of their canine friends.
“Yet, not all dogs and cats have traditionally perceived personalities,” [Lucinda] Woodward [, a psychology professor] noted. “There are friendly cats that want to be around their guardians all the time and dogs that don’t crave constant attention.”
Basically, not all animals fit the stereotypes about them. I can still be a “dog person” if I like a cat, because what I like about this cat is that she is friendly. I can also still be a “dog person” if I don’t like particular dogs because of their independence and neuroses.
Well, that’s a relief.