Cat owners are smarter than dog owners


February 8, 2010

UK research has found that cats and dogs are owned by owners with similar characteristics but that cat owners are more educated

UK research has found that cats and dogs are owned by owners with similar characteristics but that cat owners are more educated

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It's been a while since there was a dog and cat census in the UK - about three cat years or twenty human years in fact. They've gone undetected, hidden behind the sofa, curled up in the laundry, and therefore not considered much of a subject for scientific peer-reviewed journals. So for all this time it's escaped our notice that numbers of domestic dogs and cats are increasing, and while cats and dogs are owned by people with similar characteristics, cat owners are more likely to be qualified to degree level.

A study was undertaken in 2007 by Dr Jane Murray and colleagues from the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science at Bristol University and published in the Veterinary Record. Their aim was to ascertain the number of domestic cats and dogs in the UK and identify the characteristics of their owners. The telephone survey was given to randomly selected households from the electoral roll.

Overall they found that cats and dogs were owned by 26% and 31% of households respectively, and when extrapolated to UK census information determined that equals 10.3 million cats and 10.5 million dogs in 2006 - far more than has previously been estimated. Cat and dog numbers were last estimated in a scientific peer-reviewed journal in 1989, which said there were 6.2 million and 6.4 million respectively in the UK. While we've not been paying attention, they have been forming their armies.

Characteristics of dog and cat owners were also identified. Cats were more likely to be owned by; households with gardens, semi-urban or rural households, households with someone qualified to degree level, females and people aged less than 65 years. Cats were less likely to be owned by households with one or more dogs.

Dogs however were more likely to be owned by; large families, households with gardens, rural households, females aged less than 55 years, but less likely to be owned by; households with someone educated to degree level, households with cats or children aged less than 11 years. Therefore much the same profile but coupled with small children and no tertiary education. Dogs were less likely to be owned by households with one or more cats. Perhaps a house just isn't big enough for the both of them and first to the litter tray wins.

The number of owned cats and dogs were therefore predicted by two variables: the number of people in the household, and geographical location (London/rest of UK). These figures are useful to the animal health and welfare professions, including rescue charities, who will use these and future estimates to assess population changes. It is recommended by the researchers that another census is carried out in 2011 to monitor trends in pet ownership.

Dr Jane Murray, Cats Protection Lecturer in Feline Epidemiology, noted the similar owner profile for both cats and dogs but is unclear why a difference in education should affect pet ownership. She suggests, "It is unlikely to be related to household income as this variable was not shown to be significant but it could be related to household members with longer working hours having less time available to care for a dog."

Still, as a cat owner I shall be bathing in the warm glow of knowledge that cat owners are smarter than dog owners, and if you're a dog owner, I suggest you go lick your wounds.


I suspect that this is because the higher the level of qualification the longer the hours worked. Therefore a cat makes more sense than dag as they are less demanding on the owner’s time and far more independent. The fact that dogs are owned by larger households where someone other than the major bread winner (assuming that to be the highest educated person) would be in a position to walk the dog would seem to add weight to this argument. On a personal note both my brother and I are degree educated engineers and both have dogs.

In Rogers Head

I Feel compelled to point out that education and intellect do not necessarily go hand in hand, I\'ve met both educated idiots, and uneducated geniuses.

That being said I\'m more of a cat person than a dog person but I\'ve had both as pets in the past, I currently hold a diploma in Engineering but I\'m working towards degree.

I currently have pets rats.

Facebook User

Sadly a degree has little or anything to do with intelligence. The smartest people I have ever met, never got a degree and some of the dumbest people I know have degrees. A degree is a piece of paper which represents you went to some formal education approved by some government body to educate people.

Degree and intelligence are not related.

Michael Mantion

I don\'t think degree levels mean greater intellegence. I know a few people who just happen to have degrees because their parents payed their way through their failures.

also does the study include factors like allergies? and the coorelation between family size and education level (if family size is a factor for which pets are likely to be found)? or the difference between rural and urban homes in relation to these pets? for example, I\'d have a cat in my home if it weren\'t for severe allergic reactions to them, so if I lived in an rural area I\'d probably have a cat reguardless of my allergies.

I doubt there is any sort of correlation between the intellegence of dog vs. cat owners based solely on pet of choice, however I do think there may be a correlation between intellegence and pet ownership in general.


Zzzzzzz ... Not too bright, the previous comments. Must be from dog sympathizers, avowed or not, hahahaha ...

OK, fellas ... education does not imply intelligence, woohoo. However, education does CORRELATE POSITIVELY with it; and in general First-World populations, intelligence is causative of education to some degree (the correlation), in the sense that intelligent individual in general will seek to get themselves educated more than less-intelligent people will. Thus, there\'s no guarantee that an educated is intelligent in an overall sense, but overall educated people will be more intelligent than less-educated ones are, all other factors being equal.

Mr. Cat-Owning, Non-Statistician, Engineer-MBA has spoken! I mean really, fellas ... we engineers have a reputation for being wet blankets and you\'re not helping any. Get yourselves some cats and FEEL the love.

DZ from Canada

Dread Zontar

The word \'education\' has been appropriated by professional students to imply that they are doing something worthwhile while the rest of us use our brains at work. My time at University of California was spent marveling at the idiotic culture there of mutual back-slapping of those who without the brains to survive anywhere else. Since that culture can\'t compete with the outside world, they pretend they are far above it. The collection of degrees awarded by your loser, stoner professors works in your early twenties, but a rude awakening lies ahead for graduates who find that the world really runs on creativity, innovation and focused application.

Todd Dunning

What a waste of a tech site that is supposed to discuss new technologies...

Ravikiran Ananda

I don\'t think the data points are mutually exclusive. People who live in cities are probably more likely to have a degree than someone in a rural setting. Dogs make more sense in a rural setting, and cats do so in a city. Ergo the results. Me? MSME, and I prefer a dog to a cat, but I wouldn\'t mind having a cat either. It gives the dog some some exercise chasing it.

Facebook User

Must hand it to Ravikiran Ananda, just when I had become bored, and was skipping the last few comments, WHAM! from right outside the square comes the bottom liner...well done Ravi! By the way, cats and dogs are so completely different in every way......OK they usually sport four legs and a tail....that I can\'t believe that human owners of dogs, and people owned by cats can be compared, but always be very wary of ailourophobes. Ian Colley.


I'm a dog owner and I'm bright enough to see the value in a canine companion that not only gives us enhanced living but protects our property with due diligence. My German Shepard is amazingly intelligent and takes his job VERY seriously. Are cat owners really that smart? I suppose they're smart enough to fill out a B E report.


As a cat owner(with one dog), I doubt that there is a huge difference in the owner of any pet\'s IQ or intelligence. Cat owners usually respect cats because they are independent, bring us still living but virtually dead animals not as gifts showing us how to hunt and showing off, and typically only fond of one or two people.

Both pets are awesome for different reasons but cats keep a wild spirit unless you declaw them. Some dogs are not as easily domesticated such as American pit bulls, Chows, Rottweilers, certain German Shepards, and dogs like the Mastiff. I\'ve had the most vicious pit bull who only liked me, a German Shepard that killed a neighbor\'s dog who never stopped barking when my grandmother let it out to feed it while I was in Dallas, and a Chow who ended up sweeter than any other animal. Cats rarely need as much attention, and you can be in college, have a job without them destroying your house unless they know it\'s your good leather chair or favorite shoes. They more often will take the piss and mess with you while dogs do bad things for more attention and exercise.

This is an article much like the cat is smarter than the dog or dogs end up being more developed and intelligent than cats that is written every year while never giving actual proof. Weird cat ladies with 20+ cats do usually seem more eccentric than insane for the most part when you find out how much money they actually have.

Kyle Anthony

As long as any animal is loved and treated properly, does it really matter, i mean really! I wonder how much money, time and effort was wasted on such a puerile matter, would this time and effort not have been better spent researching something far more worth while, ie. post traumatic stress syndrome in those who have fought for their countries?

Jane Fraser
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