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Cat People vs Dog People: Are They Really That Different?

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat People VS Dog People Side By Side

Cat People vs Dog People: Are They Really That Different?

As of 2024, about 66% of US households—86.9 million homes—own a pet. Dogs are more popular, with 65.1 million US households owning at least one dog, followed by cats, with 46.5 million households owning at least one cat. However, it’s common for pet owners to have both cats and dogs in the same household.

There’s been a long rivalry between “dog people” and “cat people”. A commonly held belief is that there are personality traits tied to which pet you prefer, but it turns out some of these differences have been verified by research. Find out how dog people and cat people are different and some of the ways they’re the same.

At a Glance

Image Credit: Left:(Cat Person) oatawa, Shutterstock, Right: Dog Person (oatawa, Shutterstock)
Cat People
  • Introverted, independent
  • Open-minded, creative, artistic
  • Independent, homebody
  • More worried, prone to stress
Dog People
  • Extroverted, outgoing, energetic
  • Old-fashioned, traditional
  • Dependent, outdoorsy
  • Trusting, agreeable

Overview of Cat People:

Whether they have both cats and dogs, cat people have unique personality traits that make cats appealing to them. Cats are generally independent, aloof, mellow, and selective, so they tend to attract more introverted, independent, and discerning people. Loving a cat means accepting them as they are and realizing they don’t need as much from you. They don’t have blind devotion. You have to earn their love. That said, not all cats are the picture of independence. Some cat breeds are needy, vocal, and “dog-like”.

russian blue cat showing affection to the owner
Image Credit: Nailia Schwarz, Shutterstock

Personality Traits

Studies revealed specific personality traits that are common among self-proclaimed cat people. They were found to be more independent and open-minded, creative, nontraditional, and nonconformist. Cat people are happy to be by themselves and homebodies rather than being outdoorsy, active, or highly social. They also score higher on intelligence tests than dog lovers. It’s possible that the personality differences have more to do with the environment they prefer and how they view themselves, however.

Purchase and Rescue Statistics

About 43% of cat owners get their pets from a store, and about 40% get them from a shelter or rescue. Only about 7% get their cats from a breeder, and the remainder may acquire a stray or a privately rehomed cat. Cat owners often have multiple cats as well. About 56% of cat-owning households owned just one cat in 2020, but it’s generally easier and less expensive to have a multi-cat household than a multi-dog household.

cat owner with her cat near window
Image Credit: Olezzo, Shutterstock

Time and Financial Commitment

Cat owners spend less on veterinary care each year, partly due to the lower costs of cat care than dog care. The highest expense for cat owners is food, followed by veterinary care and toys. That said, only 47.2% of cat owners take their cats to the vet for preventative care, compared to 78.8% of dog owners. Unfortunately, only a minority of cat owners are giving their cats the wellness care they need.

Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

When to Choose a Cat

Cats are a good choice for owners who are looking for a more independent pet, depending on the cat breed. Cats don’t require as much attention or space as dogs and can get along on their own if you work long hours or travel often. It’s generally cheaper to keep cats as well but keep in mind the average expenses are skewed because cat owners make fewer trips to the vet.

Overview of Dog People:

Dogs are more popular than cats and appeal to a wide range of people, but there are some consistencies among dog people. They’re generally social and hands-on, so they don’t mind a high-maintenance pet. Dogs are appealing to extroverted, outdoorsy people who can have a running or hiking companion, enjoy time with others at a park, or travel with their dogs to pet-friendly cities. Dog people also prefer obedience, which can be achieved with dogs.

woman sitting and playing with dog outdoors
Image Credit: Richard Brutyo, Unsplash

Personality Traits

Dog people are social, extroverted, and traditional. They tend to be higher energy and enjoy activity, which pairs well with the mental and physical stimulation dogs need. Dog people tend to follow rules closely and can be rigid in their outlook. As mentioned, this is likely because of the real and perceived differences between dogs and cats and how the owners perceive themselves.

Purchase and Rescue Statistics

About 42% of dog owners got their dog from a store, while 38% got their dog from a shelter or rescue. About 23% of dog owners got their dog from a breeder. It’s more common for dog owners to have just one dog in about 65% of households. This may be due to the expenses and challenges of keeping multiple dogs compared to multiple cats.

woman and dog on seashore exercise running
Image Credit: Magdalena Smolnicka, Unsplash

Time and Financial Commitment

Dog owners spend more on their pets than cat owners, partly due to the vast differences in costs. The highest expense for dog owners is veterinary care, followed by food and grooming costs. Dog owners also have unique expenses compared to cat owners, such as dog walkers, doggy daycare, pet boarding, and behavioral training. However, about 78.8% of dog owners take their dogs to the vet for preventative care compared to 47.2% of cat owners.

Dog owners are also more likely to live on a tighter budget to afford their dogs’ expenses. If dog owners regret getting a dog, it’s because of cleaning up after a dog, finding care for work hours or travel, and training.

woman in orange shirt and black pants sitting on brown dirt during sunset
Image Credit: Helena Lopes, Unsplash

When to Choose a Dog

Dogs are ideal pets for people who want a companion animal and are prepared to provide a lot of attention and activity. Dog breeds come in a range of types, so you can choose a low-key and more mellow companion breed or a high-energy breed that’s ready for a hike, run, or hunting trip. However, dogs are a financial commitment and require planning if you work long hours or travel often. They also need a lot of space in your home or yard. Otherwise, you will need to commit to regular walks or trips to dog parks.

Are Cat People and Dog People Really So Different?

Despite the distinct differences between cat people and dog people, there are some similarities.

Personality Traits and Behavior

Cat people and dog people have different personality traits, but they share a love of their pets and consider them a “member of the family.” While some pet owners see their pets as just cats or dogs—especially in the younger generations—they make sacrifices to ensure their cats and dogs have a happy life. This can include getting a remote job to be home more, budgeting to afford pet expenses, and spoiling pets with toys, birthday parties, presents, and costumes.

cat resting withowner on sofa at home
Image Credit: U_Photo, Shutterstock

Health Benefits

Owning pets, regardless of the type, brings a lot of mental and physical health benefits. Pet owners have lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less stress than non-pet owners. According to a study from the US Department of Health, owning a pet significantly improves the chances of surviving a heart attack, and a UK study showed that people with pets adapt to stress and grief better than non-pet owners.

Exceptions to the Rule

Cat owners and dog owners are different in some ways, but what about people who own both? What about cat owners who prefer needier cats or dog owners who like breeds that are more independent and discerning?

There are many breeds of cats and dogs, some that combine the best (or worst) of both pets. Some cats can be just as high maintenance as the average dog, such as Sphinx cats that require regular bathing, grooming, and attention. Likewise, a dog owner who wants the aloof attitude, quietness, and willful streak of a cat may prefer a breed like the Basenji.

Basenji laying on grass
Image Credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock
When to Get a Cat When to Get a Dog
You spend time away from home during the day (i.e., work or school) You don’t mind coordinating your schedule around pet care
You want a low-touch pet You don’t mind a high-touch pet
You prefer to relax at home You like outdoor adventure and want a traveling companion
You have limited home space or rental restrictions You have home space and a yard, or you’re committed to regular walks


Cat people and dog people have a lot of differences that lead them to choose one pet over another. However, these two pet owners share a love of animals and devotion to their pets and better overall health. At the end of the day, “cat people” and “dog people” are really just “pet people”.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Left:(Cat Person) New Africa, Shutterstock, Right: Dog Person (New Africa, Shutterstock)

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