Why Cat People Are Smarter — But Dog People Are Happier

Photo: Jakub Zak / Shutterstock
girl kissing her cat

There are four types of people in this world: those who love cats, those who love dogs, those who love both, and those who love neither (and thus, have not experienced the joys of cuddling with a furry creature).

Because there's been such a long-standing "feud" between cat people and dog people, each respective pet owner feels like they know which species is superior. But doesn't loving animals mean loving all of them, regardless of whether they are canine or feline? 

Well, you need not wonder any longer, because researchers found the major personality differences between cat people and dog people.

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Not only are there great psychological and emotional health benefits to owning a pet, but as science is all about questioning everything, why do some people prefer cats over dogs, and vice versa?

Several studies indicate a difference in psychological profiles, and one study, in particular, found that cat lovers are smarter, whereas dog lovers are happier.

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Researchers from Carroll University analyzed 600 students and asked them if they preferred either cats or dogs and what qualities in their pets they love most. The participants also took personality and intelligence tests.

Sixty percent of the participants preferred dogs, 11 percent preferred cats, and the rest preferred either both or neither.

Cat lovers scored higher on intelligence tests than dog lovers.

Researchers found that characteristic personalities may contribute to this preference.

Dog lovers tend to be livelier, more energetic, and outgoing as well as a strict follower of rules. Meanwhile, cat lovers tend to be more introverted, open-minded, and sensitive, and prefer to go with their own flow rather than follow the rules.

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Study researcher, Denise Guastello, said that the matching personalities make sense.

"A dog person is going to be more lively... they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog... Whereas, if you’re more introverted and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk," Guastello commented.

The study, however, was limited to college-aged students, and the results are unknown for any other age group. But while cat lovers are smarter, dog lovers are happier.

Researchers at Manhattanville College in Harrison, New York gathered 263 participants between the ages of 19 and 68. Participants answered questions about pet ownership, their personality, and their own well-being.

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Not only did the pet owners report more satisfaction than non-pet owners, but dog owners scored higher in terms of well-being and reported more happiness than cat owners.

Researcher Katherine Jacobs Bao added that "dog owners were significantly more conscientious and less neurotic than cat owners... [They] were marginally more extroverted and agreeable than cat owners."

Despite the findings, what these studies show us is that there is no superior animal. Cats and dogs aren't better than one another, they are just different!

So, while cat lovers are smarter and dog owners are happier, you might just have the best of both worlds if you love both species.

RELATED: Why People Who Talk To Their Pets Are Smarter Than Everyone Else

Caithlin Pena is an editor and freelance writer. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Psych Central, and BRIDES.