- Dog people tend to make more money
- Cat people have better credit scores
- Dog owners prefer warmer climates and spend more time outdoors
- Love to travel correlates with cat ownership
We all know the old saying, “dog is a man’s best friend,” and, according to the recent General Social Survey cited in this Washington Post article, dog owners are in fact happier than cat owners. A controversial statement unlikely to please cat owners. To say nothing of the stereotypical opposition of “cat people” vs. “dog people”, which some reject as an overused cliche.
The General Social Survey research based its conclusions on how people reported their feelings. Nuwber decided to leverage our data to see if there are any metrics that support, or disprove, these strong claims. Are there any other differences between cat and dog owners? If such differences exist, what other factors could make one group happier than the other? Does feeling happier have to do with financial well-being? Or, maybe, it is the choice of your pet that somehow influences your lifestyle and makes you and your pet resemble each other in character after a certain period of time. Can it be the reason why dog owners are more often than not, open and friendly, which are the qualities generally associated with positivity and happiness?
Let’s take a look…
Certain demographic characteristics may be tied to cat owners vs. dog owners, including the state in which you live, your occupation and your income.
According to our data, there are generally more dog owners in warmer, sunnier states, while cat owners are more likely to live in the northern, cooler states. The purple on this map represents states where percentage of cat owners is higher than percentage of dog owners, while turquoise represents states with a higher percentage of dog owners:
We also wanted to go deeper into how significant the difference of cat people vs. dog people is in each state. In this map, with purple still representing more cat than dog owners, and turquoise more dog than cat owners, darker colors indicate a more significant difference in the percentage of cat owners vs. dog owners.
Why might this be? As any dog owner would tell you, dogs tend to enjoy being outside where they can run around, play and get some exercise, making a warmer climate far more desirable. Texas is a good example, referring to the table above; there is a significant difference in probability between cat owners and dog owners. Washington, on the other hand, is more likely a state where cat owners reside. Its rainy and cool climate is more suitable for cats, who for the most part prefer to stay inside.
Your choice of pet may also be determined by your job. Cat owners are more likely to be medical professionals (a difference of 0.66%). Since they require less care, they are a more sensible pet for people working in the medical field who work odd hours and may be gone for longer periods of time.
Cats’ home-body nature makes them a good fit for retired individuals as well (7.61% difference). People of retirement age are older, and may not be as active or physically capable of handling a high-energy pet like a dog. They also typically spend more time at home. Those in the category of “homemaking” are also more likely to own a cat.
Dog owners are more likely to work in a professional/technical (1.31% difference) or white collar (2.52% difference) field. Also, according to our data, dog owners are more likely to hold financial positions. This is compared to other careers, like farming and education, both of which have a higher probability of cat ownership.
More on the differences in occupation probability between cat and dog owners in the table below:
|Occupation Group||Cat Owners, %||Dog Owners, %||Difference, %|
|Professional / Technical||9.07||9.19||1.31|
|Administration / Managerial||7.59||7.48||-1.47|
|Sales / Service||2.55||2.42||-5.37|
|Clerical / White Collar||7.35||7.54||2.52|
|Craftsman / Blue Collar||10.92||11.19||2.41|
Speaking of dogs being more expensive, their owners are also more likely to earn more. A survey from Mars Petcare found that dog owners have a $47,000 higher income on average. It looks like the Nuwber data supports the results of this survey; stats do show that there is a tendency for dog owners to earn more than cat owners: those in the income bracket of around $100,000 have a higher probability of owning a dog versus a cat. For instance, average dog owners with jobs in the financial field earn anywhere between $75,000 and $120,000, per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is opposed to careers in farming (yearly salaries between $25,000 and $51,000 with the exception of administrative and leadership positions) or education (salaries between $34,000 and $64,000, same exceptions apply), both of which have a higher probability of cat ownership.
The graph below shows Nuwber data on the differences in income probability between cat and dog owners:
The figures above do make sense also because dogs are generally higher maintenance pets and tend to cost more, between dog walkers, doggie daycare, grooming, multiple accessories and toys. A study from TD Ameritrade discovered that each year, millennial dog owners spend $1,285 on average, while millennial cat owners spend an average of $915. This being said, it could just be that those who make more money choose to have dogs, since they have the resources to support all the added expenses.
Not only do the jobs associated with dog owners have higher salaries and can afford higher pet ownership costs, they also allow more flexibility, with work-from-home and paid-time-off options. That flexibility means people can spend more time with their dogs to play with them, take them on walks, and do other “dog maintenance” tasks. To reiterate what we mentioned above, cats don’t require as much attention or money and can be home on their own for longer stretches of time assuming they are left with sufficient food and a litter box. We admit this is interesting data to make sense of. While dog owners may have higher salaries, cat owners may be smarter for picking lower-maintenance “fur babies!”
Even though we provided convincing evidence to prove the point that dog owners have higher incomes, Nuwber data reveals that cat owners have higher credit ratings:
As you can see, those with credit scores between 650 and 800+ are more likely to be cat owners, while scores of 649 down to under 499 are more likely to be dog owners. So while dog owners may earn more annually, they may not be saving their money or spending it as responsibly. You may want to factor that into your dating decisions!
Your preferred pet may not just be tied to who you are, but also what you enjoy doing. The same Mars Petcare survey shows that while dog owners tend to be more interested in sports and the outdoors, cat owners enjoy more creative activities. Below we explore how cat and dog owners like to spend their time.
Cat owners are more likely to have interest in home decorating (0.46% difference) and cooking (1.13% difference), activities that take some creativity and are done inside the home.
While cat owners enjoy indoor activities, our data shows that dog owners lean toward outdoor activities and sports like golf (1.88% difference). This could be correlated to the fact that people with dogs have to be more athletic and spend more time outside walking, running and playing with their pups.
On the other hand, data aggregated through Nuwber reveals that cat owners have a higher probability of indicating travel as a hobby or interest. When you think about it, it makes sense. Cats can be left home alone for longer periods of time, with a friend or neighbor checking on them every so often to make sure they have enough food and water. Dogs, on the other hand, require more attention and care, with most dog owners leaving them at a friend or family member’s home when out of town, or boarding them. The stress of planning for this may cause dog owners to travel less.
Cat owners are slightly more likely to enjoy reading; however, owning either a cat or dog has a strong correlation to reading, with probabilities of over 90 percent. After all, who doesn’t love to read snuggled up on the couch with their pet?
Lastly, while our data shows that cat owners are more likely to like photography, through additional research we found it’s an activity pet owners in general enjoy doing. After all, who doesn’t love taking pictures of their pet? Not to mention, both cats and dogs love getting attention, especially from their beloved owners.
|Hobby||Cat Owners, %||Dog Owners, %||Difference, %|
|Do It Yourselfers||17.06||16.22||-5.18|
|Home Decorating Enthusiast||85.63||85.24||-0.46|
|Outdoor Sports Lover||85.43||84.84||-0.70|
What does this all mean?
To sum it all up, it looks like there are some objective reasons dog owners might have a subjective feeling of being happier. After all, dog lovers live in warmer climates, thus spending more time outside; have higher-paying jobs and make more money, all of which could contribute to happiness.
This isn’t to say cat owners aren’t happy, however. Whether you’re a “cat person” or a “dog person,” you know that either pet brings love, comfort and companionship to individuals and families.