Saturday, January 23, 2016

Dog People and Cat People

Some people base a significant portion of their identity around their affinity for either cats or dogs, describing themselves as a "cat person" or a "dog person". This builds on the perceived dichotomy between cats and dogs as pets in society.  The two terms refer to people's self-identification, regardless of what pets they actually own, if any.

A 2010 study at the University of Texas found that those who identified as "dog people" tended to be more social and outgoing, whereas "cat people" tended to be more neurotic and "open," meaning creative, philosophical, or nontraditional.  In a 2014 study at Carroll University, Wisconsin, people who said they were dog lovers were found to be more energetic and outgoing, and tended to follow rules closely, while cat lovers were more introverted, open-minded and sensitive. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists as well as scoring higher on intelligence tests than dog lovers.

See Also

Cat lady, a derogatory depiction of a female cat person

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A cat lady is a single woman, often a stock character, who owns many pet cats. The term is usually considered pejorative,  though it is sometimes embraced.

Usage and Association

Women who have cats have long been associated with the concept of spinsterhood. In more recent decades, the concept of a cat lady has been associated with "romance-challenged (often career-oriented) women".

A cat lady may also be an animal hoarder who keeps large numbers of cats without having the ability to properly house or care for them.  They may be ignorant about their situation.

Some writers, celebrities, and artists have challenged the gender based "Crazy Cat Lady" stereotype, and embraced the term to mean an animal lover or rescuer who cares for one or multiple cats, and who is psychologically healthy.

Toxoplasma Gondii

Recent research indicates a link between the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which sexually reproduces exclusively in cats, and numerous psychiatric conditions, including OCD.  The compulsive hoarding of cats, a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), has long been associated with "crazy cat ladies".  Mass media has drawn on this stereotype to coin the term Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome to refer to the association between T. gondii and psychiatric conditions.

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