What makes dogpeople and catpeople?
July 11, 2005 4:23 AM   Subscribe

What makes dogpeople dogpeople and what makes catpeople catpeople?

For a small project, i'd like some more information about dogpeople and catpeople. Wondering if there's some (online)writing about dogpeople and/or catpeople. And what would you consider yourself?
posted by mailhans to Society & Culture (66 answers total)
Dog. I'm not sure what the diff is, but there are other similar differences:
I can't remember the others from my list.
posted by OmieWise at 4:28 AM on July 11, 2005

Dogperson here. I'm allergic to cats and just generally find them rather offputting. Most dogs are fun and friendly; most cats are standoffish and mean. (Note, I said most, not all. As a dogperson, I had a cat back before I was allergic and he was awesome. But he acted like a dog.)
posted by amandaudoff at 4:36 AM on July 11, 2005

What makes dogpeople dogpeople and what makes catpeople catpeople?

Testes and ovaries, generally. But not exclusively-- please, no one freak out that I wrote that.

For the record, I am really neither. My order of preference is medium-to-large dogs, non-ragdoll cats, small dogs and ragdolls. I love bigger dogs and most cats, but I want little dogs and ragdoll cats dead.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:36 AM on July 11, 2005

Cat person. I don't hate dogs though. I've had my cat since I was a kid and he is super-affectionate, so maybe if I'd had a less friendly cat I'd be more of dog person.

I can certainly understand why people would prefer dogs (more interactive, obedient, loyal, etc.) and why those people might be more inclined to dislike/distrust cats.

I do think cats have an unfairly bad rep, but then I am biased. (And also a feminist, so I have to love cats because it's one of The Rules. ;) )
posted by speranza at 4:44 AM on July 11, 2005

I think some people just relate better to the (general) personalities of one over the other. Some people love the independence of cats. I prefer the affection and loyalty of dogs.

I'm definitely a dog person, though at one point, needing a pet, I opted for a cat, because it would have been wrong to have a dog with our schedule and living situation. We somehow got the clingiest cat who would run to greet us when we came home. I was relieved- I don't think I could have handled a "true" cat.
posted by wallaby at 4:46 AM on July 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

would mac and stones be the dogs, and beatles and pc be the cats?
posted by mailhans at 4:51 AM on July 11, 2005

The need to love (cat people) versus the need to be loved (dog people). I believe this is elaborated on in Meet the Parents.
posted by Gortuk at 4:56 AM on July 11, 2005

Cat person, though I didn't know it until recently since I only had dogs growing up. (Come to think of it though, our longtime family dog was the most cat-like Pomeranian you ever saw. Not a single yip.) I like that they crap in the same place. I like that she sleeps 20 hours all day. I like that she does her own thing and lets us do ours. I like that she's smart enough to play hide-and-seek with me but still dumb enough to think every can I open has tuna inside. I like that she doesn't smell. I like that she doesn't bark. Dogs just seem a little too much like people, you know? You have to always be "on" with them, and they need so much attention. It'd be like having a child. Dr. Amy Jones, she's just like a third antisocial human living in the apartment...

(And for the record, I'm a bigtime Mac fanatic and I prefer Elvis.)
posted by web-goddess at 4:57 AM on July 11, 2005

Male, and a confirmed "catperson".

I've known a few dogs that I've really liked a lot, but in general I'm always a little wary around them. When I was 6 years old, the (up until that point friendly) family dog decided he wanted to make a snack out of my left hand index finger. Still have the scars to remind me.

Subsequent to that, our family had a cat (rescued as a kitten from underneath our garden shed) - and she was as loving and loyal as any dog could ever be. I don't know how people can say "most cats are stand-offish and mean". Sure, some mean-tempered feral / stray un-neutered Tom might be. I can't have a cat where I live now, but I'm super friendly with quite a few of the local moggies. I've never fed them, just shown them a bit of attention and they more than reciprocate.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 5:02 AM on July 11, 2005

genetic engineering?
posted by lemonfridge at 5:12 AM on July 11, 2005

I think it comes down to personal experience. Everyone I know that hates cats has had bad experiences with cats, and same goes for dogs.

Personally, I'm a catperson and a dogperson (though keep in mind I say that having never owned a cat). I love cats because they're easier to take care of and not as needy as dogs. They're also smaller and arguably less messy. I love dogs because they're more personable, and if trained well won't walk on you while you're trying to sleep. They also offer protection and safety that a cat can't (or more likely, won't) offer.
posted by geeky at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2005

It's about what you're looking for in a relationship with your pet.

If you're looking to have a critter that is nice to pet, and maybe sleeps on your bed, but otherwise leaves you alone: cat. With the exception of male Siamese cats (which are dogs disguised as cats), the only attention a cat *really* needs is to be fed and to have his/her litter box cleaned. They don't need walking. They don't need a yard. And they don't pee all over the house if you're gone for two days.

If you're looking for a critter that will love you unconditionally, and requires lots and lots of attention/interaction: dog. Dogs live for their caretakers. Nothing makes a dog happier than when it's human gets home. NO THING. Dogs are extremely gregarious and love attention even when they're too tired to do anything but lay there and get their belly rubbed. On the other hand, leaving a dog in the house for two days unattended is guaranteed to bring about the destruction of all of your furniture. Not to mention your karma.
posted by jaded at 5:39 AM on July 11, 2005

I'm male, and although I like dogs and all, I definitely prefer cats. Dogs seem exactly like kids to me - I like hanging out with the kids/dogs of friends and relatives for short periods of time, but I wouldn't want to be around them all the time. Too much activity and responsibility!

Mcguirk, my cats are also very very friendly - and I've only met a couple in my life that were ill-tempered.
posted by sluggo at 5:40 AM on July 11, 2005

I think it's somewhat an extrovert-introvert thing. My boyfriend and I are both introverts. Is it any surprise that we love cats?

When we get home from work, we spend most of our time in the same room doing separate things. He'll surf the web, I'll read a book. He'll play a video game, I'll surf the web. He'll watch Law and Order while chatting online, I'll watch Law and Order while doing situps. Over the course of many hours, we'll talk to each other, kiss each other, spend some time sitting and talking together, then go back to our seperate activities. All in the same room.

We have two cats. While Mr. Supafreak & I are doing our own things, they're doing their own things.

Jazzy will jump up in boyfriend's lap for a while, then jump down. She'll nap on her tower, then come and munch my hair. She'll chase her toy around the room, then sit in the window.

Mister will flop in the middle of the room and mew (cat-ese for "rub my belly") until he's had his fill of belly rubbing, then he'll eat. He'll try to attack Jazzy, then he'll hide under the bed when she defeats him.

Our cats' personalities match ours. They need attention sometimes, and they know how to get it. The rest of the time, they keep themselves entertained.

People who don't think cats are friendly probably think I'm unfriendly too. I'm wary of strangers. I don't like to talk incessantly unless I have something to say. If you spend enough time around me, I'll eventually come out of my shell. Even then, though, I still need time to myself every day.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:13 AM on July 11, 2005

When a cat loves you, you know it loves *you*, as opposed to being hard-wired to express love towards anyone who happens to be in your position. Also, cats are a lot more low-maintenance and smell better than dogs. I guess I am similar to sluggo in reference to my feelings about both dogs and kids - they are great for a short time when they're not yours.

I wonder if it also has something to do with being more indoorsy vs. outdoorsy, preferring to read a book rather than run around in the park?
posted by matildaben at 6:16 AM on July 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend and I are both introverts. Is it any surprise that we love cats?

I'm as introverted -- and bookish -- as they come and don't have much use for most cats, though I like the occasional one. They seem more hobby than pet; almost like fish with fur but not quite. I don't have anything against them, except that some of them make me sneeze, I just don't get the attraction. Like watching golf.

Why makes people be dog people or cat people? Upbringing mostly, I'd guess. If you come from a cat family, or are socialized to think that women have cats, you'll have cats, unless you're allergic to them maybe. Same as enjoying watching golf.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:27 AM on July 11, 2005

Cat person. I like dogs, but I hate living with them. Which is odd, because I've cleaned up a lot more cat piss and cat vomit and little bits of bloodied fur and piles of feathers than dog turds.

Angora goats, on the other hand, are pets I can *respect*!
posted by flabdablet at 6:33 AM on July 11, 2005

I like them both in different ways. We live with a roomate's dog now and I had cats and dogs growing up. Librarians tend to have cats, or other smallish mammals like ferrets or rabbits, though I definitely know some librarian dog owners. I have always thought if it as an introvert/extrovert thing, or an inside/outside thing or a sedentary/active thing. For me a cat would be a first choice if only because I know you can leave them alone for a day or two and come back and they won't be panicky. I also think of cats as more portable: easier to bring on an airplane, easier to take to someone else's house for a bit, easier to take to the vet [though that may be because I always had large dogs growing up].

On the other hand, I have at least a few friends who could basically never come in to my house again if I got a cat due to allergies, and I don't have friends with similar proscriptions against dogs. If I had a dog, my boyfriend could take it to work or school which can't be easily done with a cat. When I lived in Seattle, I hung out with a big gang of people who all had dogs and their dogs would go with them everywhere. When their owners would be working they'd sit in the truck and look out the window or sleep. At parties there was always a human party indoors and a dog party in the backyard.

I had a rescue cat for a short time and ultimately I felt like I wasn't home enough to pay attention to her. Now that I don't have a pet but I live with someone else's pet, I like having a dog because when you're taking him for a walk, or rubbing his belly, or wrestling with him he's your dog and yours alone. You can have a cat for a decade and never feel that they're quite "yours".
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 AM on July 11, 2005

I consider myself a dog person. Dogs are always up for some fun (playing games, going for a walk) and some petting.

I don't like cats as much for their independence, but I do have a friend with a cat that jumps on my lap every time he sees me, and *stays* there. If more cats were like him, I might be a cat person. Plus, I hate when cats get up on the tables and the counters, especially the surfaces where we eat.

I just prefer the way dogs show affection, I guess.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:58 AM on July 11, 2005

People who cannot be home all day and who like their animals to walk themselves are more likely to be cat people. People who would rather read a book than throw a stick, throw a stick, throw a stick are cat people. Cats take care of themselves.

People who want children, or who want better children, or who otherwise think they deserve more blind love than they are getting, often settle for dogs, because dogs have evolved into creatures that do a good imitation of love.
posted by pracowity at 7:03 AM on July 11, 2005

We usually have both cats and dogs and I've always felt like the dogs think I'm the one in charge whereas the cats think they are.

Unfortunately our cats died recently, one as of a result of being run over and one at the ripe old age of 21. I've love my dogs but I guess I must like being bossed around by the cats as I miss them.
posted by Tarrama at 7:10 AM on July 11, 2005

mailhans writes "@omiewise:
"would mac and stones be the dogs, and beatles and pc be the cats?"

In my case, yes, but I try not to judge.
posted by OmieWise at 7:12 AM on July 11, 2005

I am allergic to cats, and always had dogs growing up.

However, not a day goes by when I don't think about getting a cat now. I am a complete and total cat person.

Funny thing is, almost everyone I'm friends with has a cat, or would pick a cat over a dog, too.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:13 AM on July 11, 2005

When a cat loves you, you know it loves *you*, as opposed to being hard-wired to express love towards anyone who happens to be in your position.

matildaben sums it up for me. Dog people think "love" means subserviency and devotion. Cat people think "love" means affection given freely and without obligation. You can often tell whether someone is a dog person or a cat person by what they look for in a human partner.
posted by fuzz at 7:17 AM on July 11, 2005

I like cats and dogs equally. Critters are great!
posted by corpse at 7:17 AM on July 11, 2005

wow people, thanks for sharing you're visions! great to read all reactions!
the question is about comparison of characters; can dogpeople and catpeople live together? and is there other behavior that makes cat/dogpeople cat/dogpeople besides them loving cats/dogs? but a lot of your answers are about that question, great!
posted by mailhans at 7:22 AM on July 11, 2005

makes me very curious about the rest of your list...
posted by mailhans at 7:23 AM on July 11, 2005

I'm going to second matildaben's response and say that cat's are indeed fiercely loyal to those they choose to love. But it's just that-- they choose to love you and not every shmo that crosses their path. I have no doubts that my cat adores me, she just doesn't have to stick her nose into my crotch all the time to tell me so. Dogs need people which in my mind means that dog people are in fact themselves needier (and also like being needed). Cats will give you affection when they feel like it and people with cats can give their affection freely and when they feel like it rather than when the dog demands. In my mind, this makes the love that cats and cat people give more meaningful because they have chosen to give you their time not because you have demanded it. That said, I have world's most docile cat that I can pester and mess with it at will.
posted by picklebird at 7:23 AM on July 11, 2005

what about the parasite oxoplasma gondii?

it is transmitted from cats to people. when rats get it they lose their natural fear of cats!

i have a dog.
posted by subatomiczoo at 7:26 AM on July 11, 2005

I have always loved cats, for as long as I can remember, but I will always have a soft spot for black doggies with big brown eyes.

I don't smell like my cat when I've been petting him -- he (and she), in fact, smells like our laundry or more generally just like our house. Lavender.

They're pretty smart, and our cats love us. Love us. They go bananas when we get home -- "Mommy I want lap NOW!!" -- but they don't hate us if we have to do something else. They seem to want to be where we are. They're simple that way.

They don't require walking when we're gone, and a cat-visitor is optional, although they and we prefer that they have a visitor when we're out of town.

Having been around a veritable herd of barn cats as a young 'un, I've seen a lot of cat-family behavior (and Biscotti may come along and correct me but these are my observations) -- cats have a language that they pretty much reserve for their "family" -- in my experience, it's usually a trilling meow. We get that from our cats, which makes me feel warm-n-fuzzy. It tells me that they see us as their "family" or whatever it might be in a cat's conception.

When a cat loves you, that's because the cat wants to love you. We spent a lot of time winning our kids' love and trust. They were shelter babies, they'd been a little mistreated and the foster-cat system is just not conducive to making them loving and friendly, but we worked at it. I sort of feel like most dogs will just care about you period, whatever, unless you're mean to them. Cats are more likely to be indifferent, IMHO, unless you try.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:46 AM on July 11, 2005

This will stay nicer if we all agree that perfectly decent people with no particular psychological problems or obvious personality defects can like cats, or dogs, or both, or neither, or even golf. And that none of these groups enjoys some sort of moral, intellectual, cultural, or other kind of superiority by virtue of favoring a particular animal as a pet.

This directed primarily at the "dog people are needy" and "dog people demand subservience" and "you can see this in their human relationships" comments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on July 11, 2005

C'mon, ROU, we're on a topic that invites ridiculous overgeneralization. Do you want "nice", or do you want "interesting"? You must be a dog person.
posted by fuzz at 7:57 AM on July 11, 2005

I have both - 2 dogs and 2 cats - and love them all equally. What does that make me, bi? ;-)
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:04 AM on July 11, 2005

"Dog people are needy" may be overgeneralization, but, yeah, that's what the thread's about. There are many reasons to have dogs, but one of the main ones (if you exclude practical considerations such as hunting) is that they act like it's the second coming of Christ every time you show up at the door. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I've been watching the first season of Penn and Teller's Bullshit! and I've noticed that every scam artist in the world is the same, they get together a bunch of people and have them applaud each other and go "Good job!" a lot and hug. So, IMHO, better to get a dog than to pay a bunch of money to walk over coals while she sings pseudo-Native American-chants.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:10 AM on July 11, 2005

> This will stay nicer if we all agree...

But we don't all agree. And the question is "What makes dogpeople dogpeople and what makes catpeople catpeople?" We are asked to speculate, based on our limited experiences, about what sort of people prefer dogs and what sort of people prefer cats. We can't answer that without describing what we think such people are like and what their motivations are.

However, this would have been much more interesting as an online survey. Ask people about themselves (family life, emotional characteristics, education, wealth, politics, etc.) and then ask whether they prefer dogs or cats. (And there must be data like that somewhere already.)
posted by pracowity at 8:19 AM on July 11, 2005

When a cat loves you, you know it loves *you*, as opposed to being hard-wired to express love towards anyone who happens to be in your position.

I tend to agree with this, and it's probably why, though I like both dogs and cats, I choose to have cats as my actual pets. Dogs are great fun, but as said above too, they're like little kids, and the fact they seem ecstatic to be with you never seems to have much to do with you per se...they just like everybody, or their preferences seem way more arbitrary. I like that my cat wants to sleep on my belly in particular at night, that it misses me when I'm away and when I come back it's happy I've returned, not just the person temporarily coming over to feed it etc. That feels like specific love to me. And I even smile at how everyone has the wrong idea about cats when they say they're aren't loving or friendly, that they're aloof--dude, they're only aloof around you because they don't know you yet and haven't befriended you. No one will ever believe how incredibly affectionate my cat is, the one I grew up side by side with, because she's cautious around strangers and vague acquaintances. This doesn't bother me--they don't know what they're missing, the way she puts her nose right up to my cheek at night and I can hear her breathing slow as she goes to sleep. Aww.

Don't get me wrong though--I've met amazing dogs that gave me warm fuzzies too. I think people can overstate the cat/dog dichotomy. There're plenty of us folks who appreciate both. And as one friend of mine once glibly said, "Artists like dogs. Writers like cats. I, uh, like birds." ...

And yeah, the experience thing mentioned above. People who hate one or the other seem to always have specific reasons, stories from their past that determine that and don't allow them to view any new animals they encounter with any open mindedness.
posted by ifjuly at 8:38 AM on July 11, 2005

Although I love cats and dogs, I probably lean a little closer to the cat side. I've never owned a dog, but would like to at some point.
posted by deborah at 9:07 AM on July 11, 2005

I like cats, and I can like some small dogs, but the true adoration is reserved for medium-to-large dogs. Most of the personality ground has been covered by previous comments, so I'll only point out: hugging a big friendly dog is a wonderful sensation that is not available even with the most tolerant of cats -- if not too standoffish, then simply too small/fragile. Cats also make poor running partners.

For those who might like pets with combination cat and dog qualities, consider adopting an older dog. Canine senior citizens can be more mellow and sedate, while still offering lots of love.
posted by clever sheep at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2005

Cats are fine, and some of them are even great, but I'm definitely a dog person. IMO, most dogs are more fun, more interactive and more loving - which is what I'm looking for in a pet.

I like Gortuk's theory above...
posted by widdershins at 9:20 AM on July 11, 2005

I adore cats and dogs, although I am allergic to both. I love them so much that I overcame my allergies and now have two cats. I would love to have dogs as well, but the hubby doesn't like dogs and also we live in an apartment. It seems to me that cats are more secure than dogs. Most dogs are a bit histrionic, some to the point where I it's like, "Damn you're needy. Get the hell out of my face." But cats mostly stay out of your way and do quirky little things like suckle on blankets.
posted by crapulent at 9:32 AM on July 11, 2005

A contrary person could also argue that cat people need to feel validated because they think love is only special if it's given sparingly and occasionally. Also, that you can tell who the cat people are by their tendency to seek out relationships full of drama and turbulence.

On the flip side, dog people are secure enough in their self worth to not need a pet to prove their specialness and can appreciate an animal that brings warmth and joy into a home for everyone to share.

The overreaching generalizations can work both ways. I love the canines myself, but mostly because I prefer that they're more active and playful, which is sort of the point of getting a pet in my opinion.
posted by hindmost at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2005

I think that clever sheep brings up a good point in saying that cats don't make good running partners. It seems to me that dogs are likely to be favored by outdoorsy types of people, since you can take them hiking, running, or just out to the park.

I'm with the several people above who put small dogs about on par with cats, but think big dogs are the best. I find this sentiment
When a cat loves you, you know it loves *you*, as opposed to being hard-wired to express love towards anyone who happens to be in your position.
to be a bit of BS, though. Your cat absolutely does love anyone who happens to be in your position. And that position is "person who feeds me all the time."

Not that I'm saying that dogs are really any different. I don't have any illusions about cats or dogs experiencing anything like love. You could get a squirrel to come sit on your lap if you fed it enough.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2005

Well, this is the sort of question which, I guess, is only really looking for personal views rather than any hard science so... I'm a cat person (even though I have testes, not ovaries). I like cats because of their independence, how undemanding and self-possessed they are, how easy they are to look after, how beautiful they are to look at and to touch, how sensual they are in the way they move, their casual poise and the relatively gentle noises they make.

I find dogs objectionable and gratingly irksome. They're noisy, demanding and slobbery. They require far, far too much attention and companionship. They're like spoilt brats. I hate their whining, their barking, their yapping... I hate the fact that they can be a danger if untrained yet, perhaps paradoxically, I also find the ease with which they can be trained and controlled distasteful. It seems I dislike pack mentality as much in pack animals as I do in humans.

I think you'll find this is a recurring pattern: people who like cats appreciate independence in their pets. People who like dogs seem to prefer the lack of it. Many of them seem to get off on the fact that they control their dogs, to a greater or lesser degree. Big generalisation, sure, but you do see it.

"Best In Show" is a very funny film.
posted by Decani at 9:54 AM on July 11, 2005

"On the flip side, dog people are secure enough in their self worth to not need a pet to prove their specialness and can appreciate an animal that brings warmth and joy into a home for everyone to share."

YES. Exactly. I have a dog because I can take her to the park and meet people, I can take her to the Ice Cream stand and my friend's daughter can feed her fries or I can just let her out into the backyard to play on her own. She's friendly with other people as well as being independent enough to hang out on her own. I don't really like cats because most of them are so attatched to their owners that they can't be bothered to be nice to other people, whereas dogs take all the loving that they can get.

I'm the sort of person who alternates between periods of insane sociability and reclusiveness and my dog works with that. She's up for a trip to meet people just as much as she's ready to hang out in the backyard, which for me is exactly what I want in a pet.
posted by amandaudoff at 10:09 AM on July 11, 2005

I have to say, I was always an exclusively cat person until I had the opportunity to live with a dog for a year. I very much loved the dog.

The problem was, the dog could never be made truly happy. If you played with it, it wanted more play. If you pet it, it wanted more petting. If you walked it, it wanted you to walk it forever. The dog almost seemed emotionally manipulative to me... Never quite happy, never quite content. I ended up doing a lot of things simply because I felt bad for the dog, or I felt that it would be so simple for me to make the dog happy that I'd be a cad for not doing it. That if I didn't constantly pet play walk, pet play walk, pet play walk, I'd be crushing some little innocent spirit.

Of course a dog isn't emotionally manipulative, and the issue is almost definitely with some defect in MY personality, but still. I did love the dog, but I have no desire to ever own one. I have a cat now, and I never feel like a bad person for how I interact with the cat. He can take care of himself, he can make himself happy. He clearly genuinely likes the people in the house (I've definitely had cats who didn't), so he's very often found to be hanging out in the same room, though he's not a lap sitter. I also love to see him hanging out on a windowsill, surveying the neighborhood. He's content. He doesn't need my help for that. I can send him into overdrive by scratching his chin, but he understands moderation and doesn't bug me to do it all day every day.

Anyhow, that's it for me. Dogs are needy, cats aren't. My opinion of course, and again, it's my personality flaw that causes the dog situation to be so unpleasant.
posted by FortyT-wo at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2005

A deep tendency on the part of the human brain to try to distinguish things as opposites even if they aren't necessarily in opposition.

Add that tendency to a common social impulse towards cliquish behavior.
posted by Good Brain at 10:15 AM on July 11, 2005

I like both, and don't understand liking just one or the other.
posted by JanetLand at 10:22 AM on July 11, 2005

I've kept thinking about this. To me, dogs seem needy, as a lot of people have said, as if they need you to approve of them in order to be happy. Cats, not so much. Admittedly, the cats are more laid back if we're not upset with them, but they never seem to need our approval. Cats seem to be the animal equivalent of, "Here I am, like me or not. I'm not gonna change for you, mister." I like that, probably because that's the way I am, as well.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:30 AM on July 11, 2005

A dog and a cat are talking.
The dog says: My owner feeds me, he gives me water and a place to sleep, he takes care of me when I'm sick. He must be a god.
The cat replies: My owner feeds me and gives me water, he gives me a place to sleep and takes care of me when I'm sick. I must be a god.

I tend to like other people's dogs and dogs tend to like me. I'm continually amazed by how intelligent dogs are, how uncannily aware they are of human social intricacies. And a game of fetch with a dog that's so inclined is really fun. But dogs just don't have enough self-respect for me to respect them. On the one hand they're so lacking in self-esteem that they need your constant attention and approval yet they're also so arrogant to think that we've nothing better to do than constantly pay attention to them and show them approval. Cats have a much healthier view of their place in the world; if you're busy they can keep themselves busy with their own little projects (most of which involve sleeping or vomiting).
posted by TimeFactor at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

Franky, "love" doesn't enter into it. I'm not a cat person or a dog person -- I just hate stupid pets.

My neighbor has a mangy lazy-eyed poodle that barks at me, my wife, the air, trees, anything really. I guess I can understand why my neighbor seems to just shove it out in the yard all the time, mean as that may sound. Stupid dog, stupid owner.

I worked on a project once at a house with a little scottie. It was always getting underfoot and barking at all of us. Stupid dog.

I've encountered smart dogs as well, but none stand out. I don't hate them, but to a one they're not poodles, 'schnoodles', chihuahas, and so forth. They're the bigger dogs, the ones that weren't always (in-)bred for looks so much as intelligence (collies of course being a major exception, idiots with long noses). I still wouldn't want one; I'm not interested in the maintenance.

We do have a cat, a twelve or thirteen year old tortoiseshell. She's not particularly affectionate and I have no illusions that she 'loves' me nor I her. My wife takes care of her food bowl and litter box, leaving me with the all-important petting and playing duties. She doesn't leap into anybody's lap, preferring to sit next to us. Fine by me.

If you follow the dog as child idea, cats are teenagers. They share your house, they eat your food, and don't want much else to do with you unless they're looking for attention. Fine by me. I suppose it's nice to know she's around, but knowing she's there is the only persistent commitment I know I'm willing to make and keep.

I'm starting to come off as not a pet person at all. We had fish when I was a kid, and then the occasional mouse.

You don't hear about 'mouse people' much now, do you?

But enough about me. You cannot generalize about cat people and dog people anymore than you can expect every bit of the Mars and Venus nonsense to stick. Some people love smart dogs, some people love stupid dogs, some people love affectionate cats, some people love apathetic cats. Some people love cats and dogs. Some people figure it out on a pet-by-pet basis.

I guess that's me, though I generally expect dogs to be dumber than cats before I know them well. Does that bias make me a cat person? Fine by me.
posted by codger at 10:39 AM on July 11, 2005

yeah, I think this is kind of a sillly generalization, although I am probably more of a cat person (and mac person, which goes with cats b/c both are clean & aesthetically superior; but don't really care one way or the other about beatles or rolling stones - not a 60s person, I guess).

I lived with two dogs & three cats for a couple years - I was dating a serious animal lover. The big dog was a german shepherd, beautiful & pretty smart; I liked him. The little dog was a poodle, kind of annoying though full of party tricks. Two of the cats were sweet but nothing special. The third cat we adopted together off the streets, and I kept her when we broke up - and she is the one pet of the batch that I really felt something for. I could imagine that happening with the right dog, too. So I don't think it's so much about the species as the individual.

I also really like birds. I would love to have a parrot someday.
posted by mdn at 10:47 AM on July 11, 2005

Wow. This thread has really answered a lot of questions for me as to why someone could possibly prefer a cat over a dog. Pracowity and croutonsupafreak's answers in particular helped me understand why cats are worth it.

I adopted my Rott/Shepherd mix two years ago. He has given me nothing but joy. He loves attention, yes, but he's also good at staying out of the way when I'm busy. Those first five minutes when I get home are harried, but after that he just takes to following me around to each room I'm in and falling asleep in the corner.

Cat people may think dogs just slather love on everyone, but I don't find that to be the case. My dog is clearly my dog. When I go hiking, he runs free. But he'll never go more than 1/4 mile away from me without looping back and checking on me. When we make new friends at the dog park, he's ecstatic -- but when I get to the gate and start to leave, he always breaks off what he's doing and comes running to me.
posted by Happydaz at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2005

I'm a dog person who likes cats too. I think it has a lot to do with what you had as a pet growing up.

I definitely disagree with the people who say that cats are more discriminating in their affections than dogs are, though. I lived with my best friend's cats for two years, during which time they would sleep on my bed, snuggle on my lap, and follow me around the house. A month after moving out, it was like they had never seen me before. My family's dog, on the other hand, stopped eating for a week from loneliness when we boarded him at a kennel, spent a summer with an aunt and the year we lived in London with a cousin, and didn't transfer his affections to them just because they fed him and definitely remembered who "his" family was when we came back. Dogs are pack animals, so it makes more sense that they would bond to the members of their pack, whereas cats are solitary by nature.

Also re: the introvert/extrovert thing, I'm definitely an introvert, but love dogs, maybe because they encourage me to get out of my comfort zone and do more stuff.
posted by MsMolly at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2005

Female, and definitely a dogperson. I hate cats. They are creepy, cagey, and sneaky. Mostly what makes me dislike cats are two things:
1) Most don't care one way or the other if you live or die, as long as you keep the dish full.
2) They so damn quiet that they are able to sneak up on you and scare the crap out of you.
I find them off-putting in a major way.

Dogs are generally social and playful. They want you around. They protect you.
posted by suchatreat at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2005

2) They ARE so...
posted by suchatreat at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2005

As someone who grew up with both cats and dogs, I'm definitely fall on the dogperson side of the spectrum. Cats are fine, too, but if given a choice, I'll take the dog every time.

Why? 'Cause I'm needy and controlling, 'natch.

In my own mind, though, I prefer dogs because, in my experience, they display more intelligence and personality and provide better companionship. As others have noted, you can't spend a day with your cat running errands or in the park. And I've never seen a cat catch a frisbee (although my sister's cat does play fetch.) There are herding dogs, sled dogs, police dogs, service dogs...but I rarely if ever see a cat helping blind people across the street.

Obviously, one could argue that not-catching-the-frisbee or doing some rinky-dink repetitive chore for humans is the truly "intelligent" decision. But, still, having grown up around both species, it always seemed to me dogs were more idiosyncratic and problem-solving creatures -- they can always surprise you -- while cats are basically just hard-wired balls of fur.

Here's an example. I know of a border collie owned by a couple, which like most city dogs was trained not to run into the street. When this couple had a kid, the collie would lay her paw on the child and try to block him from crossing the street if he ran ahead of his parents. This is the type of learning -- and extrapolating -- behavior I hardly ever see in cats.

Obviously, that's a gross generalization -- there are cat-like dogs and dog-like cats, and smart and dumb animals in both species. But gross generalizations seem to be operative here.

Speaking of which, I do find it kinda funny that the cat people here seem to be the ones primarily hyping their own independence and special-ness. They sound quite a bit like Mac users. :p

Also, some of you catpeople here have a truly bizarre conception of canines. I have a sheltie here in NYC, and it's not like he sits by my foot all day, slobbering and pining for attention. He's got his own life hanging out by the door, looking out the window, chewing on random things, barking at the occasional miasma of evil, and making war with the Roomba. Shelties are a reticent breed, sure. Still, it's not like he or I spend our lives constantly begging for validation, or at least not from each other.
posted by kevincmurphy at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2005

Personally, I think there is a wider compatibility gulf between small-dog people and big-dog people than there is between dog-people and cat-people. Big-dog people are more willing to accept cats in their lives than they are small dogs.

(IMHO, all this talk about "being able to leave cats for two days and not worry about them" is BS. Sure, I can leave enough food/water/litter for my cat, as long as I don't care about him destroying my belongings and peeing on my bed.

True, cats don't have smell bad, but cat boxes do. I find it amusing how cat people I know who complain about dog odor have cat boxes that you can smell throughout their entire house.)

I have two dogs and a cat. I love them all. Do they love *me* or just the person who brings them their food? I don't know. Do I care? Not really.
posted by luneray at 12:40 PM on July 11, 2005

I'm an introverted, bookish type and I'm definitely a dog person. I don't care if that means I'm insecure and needy, dogs are just plain awesome.

Also, some of you catpeople here have a truly bizarre conception of canines. I have a sheltie here in NYC, and it's not like he sits by my foot all day, slobbering and pining for attention.

I have an old English sheepdog - member of one of the most possessive breeds ever. If I'm typing away at my computer, he'll come over and nudge my hand with his wet nose, as if to say "Ahem! Shouldn't you be scratching me behind the ear?" But before he came along, I had a Welsh terrier, who was definitely more independent and cat-like (i.e. very low maintenance.)

off-topic: while checking your profile (kevincmurphy), I realized that you're the brother of Gillian Murphy! I'm a big fan of hers, and I just saw her perform in late April in Los Angeles:-)
posted by invisible ink at 6:11 PM on July 11, 2005

I had both dogs and cats growing up, and I still like both. My one beef with cats is their tendency to identify the person who least likes cats, and go up and rub themselves all over that person, utterly ignoring the cat-lovers in the room. Mr. ambrosia is terribly allergic to cats, however, so now I'm just a dog person out of necessity. Like happydaz, we have a Shepherd/Rottie mix who greets us at the door and likes to hang out in the same room, but isn't constantly demanding interaction. When we are scattered in different rooms of the house, he'll come around once every 45 minutes or so, just to sort of count noses, and then go curl up somewhere (usually where he can keep an eye on all of us) and take a nap. He inspects visitors upon arrival, but only once, ever, has he rolled over on his back and begged for a belly rub from a newcomer. Mostly he just sniffs new people, and then once he's satisfied that I am welcoming them, off he goes to count noses in the rest of the house. And yes, we take him on hikes, and along in the car to run errands, and you can't do that kind of thing with a cat.
posted by ambrosia at 8:32 PM on July 11, 2005

Yep, that's my dear sis. And she's assuredly a catperson too, so it doesn't seem to run in families. :)
posted by kevincmurphy at 9:00 PM on July 11, 2005

Grew up mostly with cats, and I like cats, although I've seen people "switch allegiances" or go from petless childhoods to great enthusiasm for their cat or dog.

I think part of it is that I can read a cat - cats telegraph so much of their changing mood with their ears and tail and whiskers, so I can always tell whether they want my attention or if it's better to keep my distance.

I cannot read dogs, and the bigger ones alarm me, especially if their owners seem somewhat pleased that they're accompanied by a not very well controlled large predator.
posted by zadcat at 10:00 PM on July 11, 2005

I thought Mac users would be dog people, 'cause Macs greet you with a smiling face (well used to), and Windows seems so finicky and unpredictable...

[I think basically people project all kinds of stuff onto critters that just aren't reflective of reality.]
posted by MightyNez at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2005

I am happiest having both. Dog for going around away from home (walks and rides, swimming!). Cat is for home, most especially to relax. If you respect a cat, it may decide its willing to teach you better relaxation technique. They are experts, be sure!

I grew up with a stupid poodle (mom's choice). I like bigger dogs, my favorite being Golden Retrievers. Sweet and gentle, and big enough I can play rough (I'm big) for a good romp on the grass.

But my grandparents had a cat, and I learned to enjoy their cat. He and I would sit on the steps after dinner, while the boring grownups talked. He taught me to rub nice and be calm.

OTOH I had the Best Cat in the World, Toots, for 9 years. Here was a cat who loved. I still suffered nightmares in our first year together, and she played Momma to me, and would come purr me back to sleep. When we lived in California, she really wanted me to leave the house with her when an aftershock shook the house one day (She was terrified in a major way by the Wittier quake, which happened while I was at work, took all day to find her hidden, stiff as a board, in a kitchen cupboard).

If I had to make an opinion, I'd say that cat people are more likely to be intelligent than dog people. Anyone can manage a dog, more or less. And there are plenty reasons to have a dog. But folks don't have cats, usually, except by deliberate choice, because they understand cats. But I doubt this would be that big a statistic as plenty of smart people have dogs.

IF I was raising a family, and had to choose between one or the other, no question, I'd want a dog. A dog is more likely to do something to protect my family than a cat, if only because he'd have more opportunity.
posted by Goofyy at 5:33 AM on July 12, 2005

I grew up with a dog. I have three cats now. I was scared of most animals as a child; it took me a while to get used to our dog, but she was a Lab, with a sweet personality. Once I got my first cat I became comfortable with cats; she was calm and easy to read.

I don't like small dogs; most I've encountered never shut up yipping, and seem to have nasty personalities. I like some big dogs, but I'm wary of them - I was attacked by a Shepherd and a Shepherd/Husky mix when I was a teenager; they cornered me on a porch and bit my hand and arm - the owner had to drag them off of me. I don't like how a dog can be loud and aggressive even when it's a friendly dog; most I know fly at the door barking and jumping even when they know you. If a cat doesn't like you, it usually just leaves you alone unless you mess with it.

I find both dogs and cats are choosier than depicted here about who they like, although cats more than dogs; but I have never known either that automatically loved whoever fed it. My family's dog is very bonded to them; she asks for attention, but she doesn't try to cuddle with me as she does the rest of the family. My cats have very distinct personalities; the oldest prefers my husband above anyone else. My youngest will be friendly to most people but is clearly "my" cat, and we are closer than I've ever been with a pet.

I would like a dog or two once we have more room - probably a Lab or a greyhound. And I can't imagine not having a cat. I do like that we can leave the cats for a weekend alone and not worry about them, but I think the right dog would be nice to have, probably because I have very fond memories of my first dog and how much fun she was to play with.
posted by Melinika at 9:15 AM on July 12, 2005

As a cat person, it's perhaps not surprising that I found "Best in Show" to be a complete waste of rental money. All the way through it, I just kept waiting for the funny part to turn up.

Also, I think it's absolutely deliciously wonderful how easy it is to make dog people go all whiny and defensive about their personal preferences :)
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 PM on July 12, 2005

I have long felt that dogs - unlike cats - are professionals, and Charlie Dog is just a sterling example of that professionalism. A cat is a cat. Period. From the time that the cat first condescended to let man and woman feed, scratch, and pet him, with no obligation on his part to do anything in return, the cat has resisted almost every effort to change his appearance, his size, or his temperament for the convenience of man. He insists on walking on his wild lone. Whereas the dog, who started out as stalwart, strong, wild, and wolf-like, has flopped over on his kowtowable back, legs astraddle... man put on his genetic gloves and pummeled, smashed, pulled, tugged noble dog into shapes so remote from the original that a chihuahua could mate with a Saint Bernard only with the help of a stepladder and a midwife, and all this with the active and apparently enthusiastic assistance of the dog...

...A cat is a cat is a cat. And that is it.

A dog can be a lapdog; a watchdog; a fawning, servile slob; a violent, murderous bastard; a kissy, big-hearted, great-eyed, crawly lover - and is really and too often an abysmal caricature of the worst in mankind. You feed him, cuff him, pull his ears, slap him silly, it's all one to him. "I knew he was my master," says the Kid in Richard Harding Davis's The Bar Sinister, "because he kicked me."

If you make a fool of yourself in front of a cat, he will sneer at you, if you are sober; he will leave the room if you are drunk. If you make a fool of yourself in front of a dog, he will make a fool of himself, too.
- Chuck Jones, Chuck Amuck

Cat person, here. : )
posted by furiousthought at 10:05 PM on July 12, 2005

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