What Does Your Pet Say About You?

He was not affiliated with the Bristol University study but said that while conscientiousness (which is associated more with dog people) is a predictor of high school success, openness (which is associated more with cat people) is indeed a predictor of college success.

Dog, Cat Lovers See Some Truth in Studies' Findings

Gosling also said that having a pet is both an expression of identity – in that a pet choice can send deliberate signals – as well as what he called a thought and feeling regulator. Similar to music selection, he said, choosing different kinds of pets can encourage certain feelings.

"If we want quiet companionship we might buy a cat, if we want active companionship, [a pet] to go on adventures with, we might buy a dog," he said.

Lisa Peterson, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club, said she recognized some truth in the studies' findings.

"We tend to gravitate to pets that reflect our own personalities," she said.

As social pack animals, she said she observed that dogs tend to attract extroverted humans who are fond of socializing. Cats, on the other hand, normally don't travel in packs and seem to complement humans who are more introverted.

Cat lovers too agreed with some of the recent research.

Pamela DelaBar, president of the Cat Fanciers' Association, said that the cat owners she could think of off hand were indeed a highly-educated bunch.

"I look around my board table and people do have a lot of degrees," she said. "There's lots of paper on the wall."

She also said that it's possible that part of the reason why the Bristol University study found an educational discrepancy between cat and dog owners is that more educated individuals might cluster in cities, where professional opportunities exist in greater numbers.

"It's much easier to have cats in the city than it is dogs," she said. "It becomes a matter of convenience."

Cats, Dog Lovers Not so Different

But some animal lovers said that the line between cat and dog lovers wasn't so fixed.

Jennifer Leigh Schwerer, a 33-year-old New Yorker, said she's always thought of herself as more of a cat person and identified with some of the researchers' findings.

"I definitely would classify myself as more introverted," she said, adding that as a psychology major she can also relate to those with neurotic tendencies.

When she was younger, she said she used to be somewhat biased against "dog people."

"I always felt like cat people were more intuitive, more patient and willing to build a connection over time," she said.

But Schwerer emphasized that after recently visiting her cat- turned dog-loving sister, she's revisited her former notions about pets and the people who own them.

"It's been an interesting adjustment," she said. While, at first, she was put off by her sisters new companion, over the course of the week, her relationship with it changed.

"I think I got used to it, the dog seemed bright to me and willing to connect with me the same way that cats are," Scherer said. When she arrived home, she said her own cat seemed aloof and detached. The whole experience, she said, made her think that perhaps cats and dog owners aren't so different after all.

"I think pets maybe just say something about where the owner is. … What mood they're in at that point in time," she said. "You find a pet that you enjoy and you start to learn to love the things about it."

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