Big or Small? Long Haired or Short? Here's What Your Pet Says About You!

It’s funny, but my new roommate’s cat seems so like him to me. His gray fur matches my roommate's who has been totally silver since he was in his early 20’s. His cat has extra toes and he has scoliosis – okay, yeah, not QUITE the same admittedly, but in the same strain, a bone abnormality. Mostly though, they share a similar personality. My roommate’s a drummer, and his cat shares the typical drummer traits – he’s active, a little high-strung and yet, very friendly, reveling in attention.

While as a bit of psychology geek I know we are prone to anthropomorphizing and detecting patterns where there are none, I shared this with his girlfriend and even she agreed - they really do seem perfectly matched. 

Now, turns out my observation may actually have some scientific basis.  

Studies have not only proven that we prefer (and think better of!) cats and dogs that look and act more like us, but strangers can actually guess more often than not, which cat or dog belongs to us from a group!

So, given that science backs the old idea that we pick pets that are like ourselves, the obvious question becomes – what does our pet choice say about us?

Note: These are generalizations based on factual psychological findings and first-hand observations. However, these are certainly not hard-and-fast rules. It may very well be that a certain assessment doesn't ring true for you!  Also relevant to note - when a pet chooses an owner (such as in cases of rescue or inheritance), rather than the other way around, the absence of the active decision making role makes it more difficult to assess the owner based on their pet. And when a variety of pets are chosen, it may just be that you really fall somewhere in the middle of the two roads. We're not all one way or the other, people! With those things said, this article was written for entertainment purposes, so please enjoy!

While in the past people would buy purebreds purely as signals of their affluence, there’s more to the choice today. One of the biggest benefits of owning a purebred is that you know almost precisely what to expect in terms or health, size, care requirements, and personality. Therefore, as psychologist Stanley Coren posits, purebred people tend to be more organized and responsible than mixed breed owners.

A mixed-breed tells a different story. As mixed-breeds are most often rescued or adopted from shelters, it follows that mixed breed owners would tend to be more tender-hearted and sensitive people. Also, because they take on their cat or dog a bit more blindly, they tend to be more impulsive and easy-going than purebred owners.

Loveable golden retriever or elegant whippet? Hardy american shorthair or luxurious persian? Your pet’s looks definitely send a message!

People that gravitate toward a pet with traditional, moderate features are people that tend to be more approachable, friendly, and down-to earth. They’re looking for health and stability in an animal, something comforting and familiar. They are probably more practical and outgoing.

On the other hand, those who opt for more exotic or extreme looking pets, tend to be more creative types. They like stand out.  Whether they like to be the center of attention or they’d rather avoid the crowd entirely, they are happy to be different.

While our pets, like our children, have a personality all their own, our own behavior and our efforts with them have a direct impact as they grow.

Well-behaved cats and dogs typically come from homes with a good balance of love and structure.  They tend to come from responsible people that are generally happy and are willing to spend a fair amount of time with them. Your confidence rubs off on your pet. They look to you for security!

In contrast, willful pets tend to come from homes where the balance of love and structure may be slightly off.  Perhaps they grew up in a busy household where they didn’t receive quite as much attention as they would like. Perhaps they grew up in the center of attention, doted on and maybe even indulged a little too much.  Most often, the imbalance is entirely inadvertent – a result of our own experience and personal issues!

Of course, it should be noted that pets which came from shelters reflect the home environment they encountered before they came to you, especially those they encountered as puppies or kittens. If your pet falls under the “willful” or “naughty” category, there is hope. Generally, you’ll need to identify the root of their insecurity, work to overcome past love/structure imbalances, and establish a positive one instead.

If you’re a practical home-proud type of person who likes to keep things neat and doesn’t want to take on a lot of extra work, you’re probably going to be looking for a short-haired dog or cat who sheds less and requires less grooming.

Long-haired pet owners may love the beauty of a sweeping, shiny coat, but they also have to accept the work and the mess that typically comes along with them.

Because the size variable in dogs is so much greater than in cats, choosing a very large or very small dog probably says a bit more than choosing a very large or very small cat would. However, there are some similar characteristics between the two scenarios.

People that gravitate toward the largest cats or dogs tend to be more assertive and active people. Bigger animals have a larger presence and were generally built to work. We can expect them to need more activity and maintenance.

Very small dog or even cat people have different motivation for their size preference. Very small cats and dogs require less work and are just adorable. Both attract attention and praise, but in different ways. A large animal impresses people, but a small animal has everyone “aww”ing.

Dog or Cat?

Finally, no discussion of pet/person psychology could be complete without addressing the issue of cat people vs. dog people. In that matter, I’ll let the statistics speak.

Self Identified “Dog People”…

Self Identified “Cat People”…

…are more extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious.

…are more creative, adventurous, and prone to anxiety.

…are more likely to be parents with children.

…are more likely to be seniors or single people.

…are 50% more likely to identify as conservative.

…are 17% more likely to hold graduate degree.

…are 30% more likely to live in a rural area.

…are 29% more likely to live in an urban area.

…are 24% more likely to have kids.

…are 33% more likely to say they’d rather watch their friend’s kids than their friend’s dog.

… are 18% more likely to say Paul McCartney is their favorite Beatle.  

…are 25% more likely to say George Harrison is their favorite Beatle.  

…are 30% more likely to enjoy slapstick humor and impressions.

…are 21% more likely to enjoy ironic humor and puns.

…would be 67% more likely to call animal control if they found stray kittens.

…would be 21% more likely to try rescuing  stray kittens themselves if they found them.

…are 67% more likely to use a popular song for their ringtone.

…are 11% more likely to keep contacts in both their cell phone and a physical address book.

…are 9% more likely to think of zoos as a happy place.

….are 10% more likely to be active on Twitter.

….prefer jam bands, reggae, and psychedelic rock.

…prefer new wave, classic rock, and electronic music.

….say “American Idol” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” are their favorite TV shows.

….say “CSI” and “Real Time with Bill Maher” are their favorite TV shows.

…say “Crash” and “No Country for Old Men” are their favorite movies.

…say “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Hurt Locker” are their favorite movies.

…are both equally likely to feel in-tune with nature, have a four year college degree, talk to their pets and other animals, say they hate animal print clothing, and consider themselves to be generally optimistic.


Modern Dog: What Your Dog Says About You

The University of Texas: Research Shows Personality Differences Between Cat and Dog People

Hunch: Woof Vs. Meow: What Our Furry Friends Reveal About Us

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