What Having A Cat Says About Your Personality

Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
It's a battle of adorable proportions, and it's gone on for centuries: dogs vs. cats. Either way, you're on the cute side. Now, a new study has examined what makes you a cat person or a dog person — and how your personality affects your ability to be a good pet owner.
The study, published last month in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, surveyed over a thousand people about the favorite pets in their lives. Participants were also given a personality quiz to assess their levels of the "Big Five" traits: openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
The results showed that dog and cat people tended to differ on a few important traits. Dog people scored higher than cat people on extraversion and agreeableness, and cat people were likely to be neurotic. People who self-identified as being both dog and cat people scored the highest on openness. Those who scored highly on conscientiousness and neuroticism also had higher levels of affection for their pets. But, the neurotic participants tended to be more anxiously attached (meaning they need more reassurance from their animals), while the conscientious ones were securely attached.
Previous research has suggested that being high in conscientiousness can be great for your health, but being more neurotic can be a bad thing. The researchers here, however, suggest that there may be benefits for pets that have both conscientious and neurotic owners. These helicopter parents may be more likely to notice when things are out of the ordinary with their furry friends and get them to the vet (and, of course, give them necessary tummy rubs). We do think of pets as if they were our children, so we might as well treat them that way, too.

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