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.