Are Cat Owners Happier Than Dog Owners?

Ahh, the age-old debate: dogs vs. cats. 36% of U.S. households own a dog, with 30% owning a cat. Interestingly, cat owners are more likely to own more than one cat, while the majority of dog owners keep it to one. Animals lovers feel very strongly about their choice in the cat/dog discussion being the right one, so which one wins?


To determine which is the superior pet, let’s see how cats and dogs stack up. Cats have better vision, with their ability to see better in less light. Smell, however, goes to the dogs. Their ability to detect and distinguish odors is four times better than a cat’s. This one’s guaranteed to start a few arguments: intelligence. Cat lovers argue that cats are smart enough to get people to take care of them while doing little more than purring in return. But when you start thinking about all the jobs dogs have been trained to do, from smelling malignant tumors to tracking criminals, they’re the clear winner.

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Those qualities are great, but do dogs and cats benefit their owners’ lives? The University of California released a report that found at owners to be more creative and anxious than dog owners, while dog owners were found to be more extroverted. Additionally, dog owners were found to be more agreeable, conscientious, and open, with lower levels of neuroticism.


It has been increasingly accepted over the past decade that pet ownership, of any kind, has a positive effect on humans. A recent study found that pet owners were slightly happier than non-owners, more satisfied and have lower levels of negative emotion than non-owners. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that playing with your pet increases the levels of feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in your brain. Additionally, pets are conversation starters, and can help you build your personal community. Pets give you the chance to meet other animal lovers at the vet, pet store, or training classes.    


Dogs—and some cats!—love going on walks. Dogs require regular walks which forces you to be more physically active. One study followed 2,500 adults, ages 71 to 82, and found that those who took their dogs out regularly had more physical stamina—they walked faster and for longer periods of time, and have more mobility inside the house. While cats don’t stereotypically go for walks, they do like to play with cat toys and stay active.

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