I must be a woman because I like cats?

May 13, 2020 • 3:45 pm

Here’s an amusing attempted comment from someone named “forsoothredux”, trying to weigh in on my recent post “I get emails from loons.”

I’m confused…I thought you Whyevolutionistrue
were a woman, not a man because…cats?


Well, I won’t parse the grammar, especially the absence of two commas and the hanging “because”. But how accurate was this person’s guess?

Actually, although I spent only five minutes trying to find out which sex is more likely to own cats—I didn’t try to find data on sex differences among those who like cats—that ownership information isn’t readily available. In fact, given my five-minute time limit to suss out the answer to a question of minimal importance, I found one statistic, published only a short while ago, that says to “forsoothredux”, NOT SO FAST.

It’s from a piece in Psychology Today, which also notes that finding demographic data on pet owners is hard, for most surveys are conducted by the pet products industry, and the data are private.. But  . .  . we have one bit of data (my emphasis):

The good news is that new data from the National Opinion Research Center offers a more accurate perspective on pet ownership in the United States than industry-sponsored polls. Every two years since 1972, the center conducts the General Social Survey. On the website, the GSS is described as “the only full-probability, personal-interview survey designed to monitor changes in both social characteristics and attitudes currently being conducted in the United States.” Some of the items vary from year to year but the questions focus on the demographics, health, lifestyle, and political views of a representative sample of Americans. These data are publicly available. In 2018, the survey included questions about pet-ownership.

One of the surprises in the GSS data concerned sex differences in pet ownership. I would have predicted that men would be more likely than women to have a dog in their life and women more likely to live with a cat. Wrong. According to the GSS, 51% women in the United States have a dog compared to 41% of men. But in contrast to conventional wisdom, there was no sex difference when it came to cats; 25% of males and exactly 25% females in the survey had a feline animal companion.

Now I haven’t looked at the data, but another survey I saw (but then couldn’t retrieve after it became paywalled during my second look) had pretty much she same result.

The words above don’t tell me what percentage of the “owners” (i.e., staff) had a partner of the opposite sex, since one might want to know what percentage of people living alone or with a same-sex partner had dogs vs. cats.

But it hardly matters. If the stereotype of “single women own cats” were true, there would be a substantially higher percentage of women owning cats than men. And this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Bottom line: The claim that I must be a woman because I like cats and have owned cats (but no dogs) appears to be false, not only factually, but also through statistical inference.


37 thoughts on “I must be a woman because I like cats?

  1. Actually, in my experience, many more men than women own cats. Of my dog-owning friends most are women. I always thought men preferred cats because they are so easy to keep. I have had and now have both, but I never worry about the cats when I leave town. The dog, on the other hand . . . .

      1. Better watch out because the way I heard it was that it’s specifically lesbians who are the cat fanatics, and this stereotype is or was promoted by lesbians.

  2. 1.

    forsoothredux probably uses/contains/ is in possession of Y chromosomes.


    I think the question… well, his question… is about not if a cat “owner” uses Y chromosomes or not, but if that “owner” A. uses Y chromosomes and B. either desires or needs sex change work. That puts a twist on the 25/25 interpretation.

  3. At the moment, I have a d*g. Alas, when I adopted him, I had to agree he would be a single pet in the home. I often have cats, d*g, both at the same time. I frequently tell him I ordered a cat, and when the box came, it said cat, but when I poured the water in, he came out. But he’s cute, he’s friendly, and he’s no longer terrified of his shadow, or other people.

  4. I would guess that a good fraction, possibly a majority, of pet lovers are couples in which it would be inaccurate to assign ownership to either partner. There is some division of labor. I am more likely to take our dog for walks but he is more likely to cuddle with my wife in bed: How is that fair? Over the years we have had both cats and dogs but more of the latter.

      1. That also would be me. He clearly regards me the key to his basic needs (e.g., will follow me from room to room or when I go outside) but may go to my wife when looking for affection (e.g., will choose her lap over mine if both are equally available.

  5. Higher percentage of women owning cats than men. Now that is one you can take to the bank. Although the number of men owned by women is quite of few.

    I saw an interesting stat the other day. Trump was down on female voters by 20 percent but only down on males by 2 percent. I think I’ll claim being female.

  6. forsoothredux is clearly a loon and is probably making more unsubstantiated assumptions than we can unravel.

      1. Not the same as the name on the birth certificate, but my nice neice Geraldine gets called Jerry/Gerry.

      1. I have a sister who’s always had dogs. When she and her future husband met, he had a gorgeous cat called Charlie. When Charlie died he wasn’t replaced, but as each dog has died, they’ve got a new one. For several years they had two dogs, then when their son was born they went down to one.

        When the latest dog died it was so distressing they couldn’t bear to get a new one. She was a rescue (as were all their dogs), and had the loveliest nature. They were told she was two when they got her, but it soon transpired she was much older. She died of cancer not long ago.

        Anyway, where I’m going with this is that I’ve always got the impression that this particular sister likes the unconditional love and dependence of dogs. She did the walking, my nephew did the feeding, and my brother-in-law was assigned to poop duty. And yes, that’s a pretty good commentary on the household.

  7. … and what of the ducks forsoothredux? do we have a gender specific for them. Besides, does this person not know, cats choose THEIR staff, not the other way round 🙂

  8. … and what of the ducks forsoothredux? do we have a gender specific for them. Besides, does this person not know, cats choose THEIR staff, not the other way round.

  9. It’s interesting that the same default assumption is usually made about the sex of the animals themselves. Of course we all rationally know that there are as many male cats as female, and female dogs as male, but our starting point is usually to assume, or guess, the opposite.

  10. I am a man having lived with at least one cat for the last 50 years. I now have two; when my wife was alive we had three, but our favorite, Thorbjorn, died two weeks after she did, and I’ve stayed with two ever since. With arthritis haunting my knees I’m not up for taking daily walks with a d*g; I do not like the canine temperament, and I am repulsed by the notion of having to pick up freshly deposited poop even with a plastic bag. I will probably die with a cat on my lap.

  11. I would have a cat, but I am terribly allergic. We had a cat about 50 years ago that for some reason did not bother my allergies. When we bought our current house it came with a cat, but we could not let it inside. We also had another cat that kept coming around the house that might have had staff elsewhere, but we finally decided it was feral, so we fed it and it stayed. Both cats are now gone.

    I also am allergic to many dogs, but not, apparently, Samoyeds and Malamutes. Our current dog is half Samoyed and half Malamute.

  12. I have been a cat owner since 2008. Asked recently if I would get another when the one I have now passes, I said I would only consider it if I started seeing evidence of mice.

  13. Can’t decide cat or dog. Have only dogs at the moment, but also have turtles.
    One laid an egg on a stone shelf just yesterday. It was shriveled by the time I saw it. I’m happy that “my” turtles don’t scram anymore when they sense my presence. And when they do, they look up, expecting noms. The brain of most creatures are seduced by noms.

  14. Of my friends it is definitely more women, or women were the people in a couple who chose to get the cat. However that does not mean there are not male “staff”!

  15. OMG how idiotic. I am a woman & I own cats because where I live, I am not allowed to own a dog! I LOVE dogs! & I also love cats!

    I know lots of women who own dogs. My landlady owns two of them. My former neighbor Marianne owned a cute little guy named Milo & when he died, got another one named Buddy. My new neighbor from Albany has a gorgeous black lab (I am SOOOO envious!) In fact, most of the dogs in the neighborhood are walked by WOMEN.

    As for men … my ex-husband has SIX cats. I would NEVER, repeat NEVER, have that many cats. I have three & that is too many! (One cat, one dog works for me). & I know other men who have more than three cats. But nobody ever makes fun of the “cat man”. It’s always “the cat lady”.

    This is as silly as I must be a woman because I feel like a woman. As if a woman is a feeling.

  16. Thank you for this has made me smile.

    My loony comment on ‘I get emails from loons’,
    intended to be non-sensical, has surely done its
    job. Damned commas and all.

    Bonus points for the research though!
    Could you now please do the same
    for Australian pet ownership?

    Kingsley 😚
    PS Ducks are a gift and bonus too or so says little black duck

  17. Typo in the last line of this post: Women should be woman.

    Bottom line: The claim that I must be a women because I like cats and have owned cats (but no dogs) appears to be false.

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