Pet ownership is growing globally, with apparently more and more people choosing to adopt fur babies over having children. Those of us who have pets tend to see them as family members and even consider them part of our social circle. In fact, some of us may ultimately prefer the company of our pets over human companionship entirely.
Our love of animals in the home though is generally considered to be split into two main groups; dog people and cat people. And though there may be reasons you prefer one over the other (maybe you grew up with cats or had a bad experience with a dog), the world is more scientifically divided into people who love animals and those that don't.
So, is there anything to the feline fandom versus canine craving discourse or is it simply based on cultural stereotypes and the personality traits of humans?
This could well be our biggest challenge as animal lovers when trying to convince others that our pets are actually fantastic beasts. Because when it comes to persuading someone about the awesomeness of dogs, you may up against mighty DNA.
Some research even suggests that our passion for both animals and the environment may well be connected to our genes. While some of us predisposed to seek out the company of animals and care about the flora and fauna world others may feel more ambivalent about the whole thing; whether it be cats, dogs or anything in between.
So then, where does this cat-dog divide come from if, in theory, to love one is to love the other?
Let's face it; some people love a pristine home and dogs don't always fit with this ideal. If your commitment to clean means you want pets that enjoy lots of outdoor time, you might feel that having cat fits you best. While quality outdoor time with your dog is excellent, they likely spend much of their time sprawled out on the couch or bed.
Cats are considered way more hygienic than the average pooch too. Not only are they self-cleaning creatures but they're far less likely to walk mud or carry offensive smells into you home. Neither do they tend to leave a permanent layer of fur on every piece of furniture in the house.
We’ve mentioned that dogs like to bring or create certain smells in the home but then there’s that general doggy stink. Wet or dry, you either hate it or you love it. If you hate it and DNA hasn’t affected you’re animal loving nature, then chances are you’re a cat person.
Oh, and lets not forget that breath when a furbaby sits happily at your side, tongue lolling and drool spilling everywhere. Dog people can look beyond that stinky, loud panting. But if you're not a dog person, that hot stench and dripping tongue will likely not convince you.
Particularly in the case of dogs, bad experiences can affect someone's ability to love any canine, ever. And unless you're allowed to deal from that trauma, you may never be a dog person.
It doesn't even have to be your lived experience either, it could be a fear passed on to you by someone else's encounter.
The assumption that particular dog breeds are dangerous, for instance, may be perpetuated by the media but can influence someone's preference for the ‘gentler’ feline. On the other hand, cats, who can, on occasion, leave our puppies a nervous, quaking wreck, don't seem to suffer from this type of bad press.
All pets can have questionable etiquette but dogs in particular can be perceived as behaving badly. If you're a dog person, then you know that’s generally down to owners and not dogs. But let’s face it, our pooches don’t do themselves any favours; stealing food from the hands of babes, pooping on the neighbors lawn. Roaming, barking, licking and even humping all bring to mind dogs rather than cats.
Sniffing your crotch and chasing other animals, are all behaviours that won't endear the uninitiated either.
And some dogs jump up. A lot. Even if you're used to dogs, it can be a bit much. Imagine if you've got your favourite outfit on. It's white, or at least clean. A dog jumps up. If you weren't convinced about dogs before, you certainly not going to be a fan now.
Cats, on the other hand. Well, they'll rub gently against your ankles or ignore you completely. No holes in your dress. No mud on your shirt. No drool on your pants.
Lack of contact
If people haven't really been exposed to dogs in their life, they may not get the appeal. Perhaps allergies are holding them back from being a dog lover. Or maybe they’ve genuinely never been around puppies.
Dogs can also pretty needy, often demanding constant contact and attention. With anyone; pooches are not particularly discerning and the person closest will often do. So if you like your own space and you haven’t had much contact with dogs, they can come across as way too clingy.
The tail end
But perhaps there are some scientific means to persuade someone to love dogs. For instance, you'll get less illness and less chance of allergies with a puppy in your life. Yes, all that drool, stink and dirt could actually build up your immunity.
You're also less likely to suffer from depression. Ok, so that goes for cat ownership too. But are cats ever really there when you need them? Dogs you can pretty much rely on for a cuddle if you're feeling blue but cats, we're not convinced they'd turn up when you need them.
Also, they have to make at least you smile to raise that feel-good oxytocin level and are cats even that funny or cute?
Pet ownership can teach responsibility in kids and grown-ups. And taking care of an animal means you'll receive love abound. So whether your a cat lover or a dog lover you'll be rewarded because through your deep connection to the animal world.
And at the end of the day, does it really matter that cats drool and dogs rule? Perhaps we should end the debate there and agree to live and let live.