Cats and Dogs

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Why are cats more popular with women and dogs more popular with men? I’ve heard men complain about cats for being too aloof. I’ve even heard them say that they act like women: they do what they want and you never know what they want. Funny, that’s what I thought men were like. And dogs, with their needy, eager-to-please ways, aren’t exactly like the stereotypical male.

It’s as if each sex was more comfortable with the pet that acts like the opposite sex. Women, who are besieged with care-taking chores, like the independent ways of cats. They often find dogs to be smothering, as much as they might adore them. Cats are a relief. Dogs are just another thing to take care of. But it may also be that men, who are used to receiving a lot of attention from the women in their lives, find it comforting to have a pet who does the same.

Of course some men have found that cats can be just as affectionate in their own way; they just aren’t predictable or controllable. You could argue that these characteristics drive men crazy. They don’t like beings that walk away from them when they’re being talked to. They want pets who will respond to their orders. Pets who will act the way they wish women would act.

On the other hand, you’d think women would be starved for attention and will take it wherever they can get it. But the truth is, women are often turned off by men who are too needy. We’ve all heard women who complain about “having another child.” They want their men to be stoic and independent. Like cats.

But there may be another dynamic at work here. People may be attracted to pets who have characteristics that they themselves lack. Cats are independent; women wish they were more so. Dogs are right out-there with their emotions; men wish they could be the same. People pick pets the way they pick the people in their lives: to complete parts of themselves they are lacking.

Thus a woman will pick a cat exactly because it is independent, seemingly secure within itself, has its own mind, and can’t be controlled. And a man will pick a dog because it’s devoted, faithful, demonstrative and attentive.

Go figure.

Published by

Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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