It is widely-known that some people are ‘dog people’ and others are ‘cat people’. In fact, in mainstream romantic comedies, whether or not someone is a ‘dog person’ is often central to the evolving relationship. Countless films exist in which someone’s status as a ‘dog person’ or ‘not a dog person’ acts as the primary or major secondary plot conflict.
In early 2010, specific research was conducted by a University of Texas at Austin that found almost 42 percent of Americans self-identify as ‘dog people’ versus only 12 percent who reported they are ‘cat people’. About 28 percent said ‘both’ and 15 percent said ‘neither’. Which means that according to this dude’s research, more people dislike both types of furry housepets than express a distinct cat preference.
Yet the internet widely prefers cats. Some of the most popular Internet memes are related to cats. [....]
Popular themes for internet cat pictures suggest that the cat is perplexed by his/her environment; the cat is demanding of something in a regal fashion [cats may often be implied to be ‘overlords’ or ruling-class characters from science-fiction movies]; the cat is excited to have succeeded at something while remaining oblivious to the practicality of his/her accomplishment; the cat has instructed someone, presumably the viewer, to explain a set of circumstances to it.
Images of dogs are much, much rarer, and are certainly not as widely celebrated. The few well-known dog memes portray the dog as a ridiculous character, often the victim of the cat; popular themes for widely-circulated dog photographs include mocking the dog for not enjoying a plate of vegetables, mocking the dog for making an unusual expression implied to be fear, confusion or strong distaste, or otherwise general amusement at the expense of the dog’s ‘dignity’.
Given the overwhelming preference for dogs apparent in mainstream entertainment media and in statistical analysis among Americans, the cat’s election as unofficial ‘mascot of the Internet’ is a phenomenon worth noting. Certainly, some of this can be explained by facts such as ‘internet culture pioneers are not representative of the norm’; ‘the internet is a haven for subcultures to express preferences less welcome in mainstream society’; and ‘people who are dog people are probably doing things like throwing a Frisbee outside, painting a fence in suburbia, driving to a relevant chain restaurant or giving birth to children in a hospital setting , not going online creating Tumblrs.’
But the University of Texas at Austin’s research focused expressly on specific personality traits that may be common to one type of pet loyalist versus the other. It aimed to examine, in its own words, the “widely held cultural belief that the pet species—dog or cat—with which a person has the strongest affinity says something about the individual’s personality,” according to the head researcher on the project.
The research found that “Dog people were generally about 15 percent more extraverted, 13 percent more agreeable and 11 percent more conscientious than cat people” and “Cat people were generally about 12 percent more neurotic and 11 percent more open than dog people”.