In the age-old battle between cat lovers and dog lovers, there may never be a clear winner.
Science demonstrates that both cats and dogs can provide health and social benefits to humans – and both cat owners and dog owners are quick to tell you how much their preferred pet improves their happiness and quality of life.
But science tells us there are some unique benefits that come with cats. Here’s some validation for the cat people out there:
1. Cat people are more intelligent than dog people.
Last year, researchers from Carroll University in Wisconsin completed a study on the personality differences between people who identified as “cat people” versus “dog people.” One of the study’s most provocative findings was that cat people scored higher on intelligence than dog people.
This doesn’t mean that going out and getting a cat will magically make you smarter. It simply suggests that the kind of people who have personalities that are attracted to cats are more likely to score higher on intelligence. This result could be related to the study’s other findings, which indicated that cat people are more introverted, more open-minded, and more likely to be nonconformists rather than rule-followers.
2. Cats have a smaller carbon footprint than dogs.
In 2009, The New Scientist reported on a new book by Robert and Brenda Vale titled “Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” in which the authors estimated the carbon footprints of a variety of popular household pets.
They argued that a medium-sized dog has a carbon footprint twice that of your standard SUV, just based on the amount of meat the dog would consume in an average year. Meat requires a notoriously large amount of resources to produce, including both land and energy.
Cats, being smaller and therefore eating less, have a carbon footprint equal to a small Volkswagen, the authors argued — still a hefty amount, but much better than that of your average dog.
It’s true that cats can hurt the environment in other ways. Recent research suggests that outdoor cats kill billions of birds and other small animals every year. But one could also argue that this is another reason to adopt cats and get them off the street — provided you pledge to keep them indoors.
3. Cats are less slobbery than dogs.
No, really — there’s a scientific reason for this one. A study conducted by researchers at Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that cats are much more efficient than dogs when it comes to drinking water.
Dogs smash their tongues into the water’s surface with a force up to eight times that of gravity, splashing and causing a mass. But cats delicately dip their tongues into the water with a force up to twice that of gravity, neatly pulling up a column of liquid to swallow.
4. Owning a cat may reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota showed that people who owned cats were nearly 40% less likely to die of a heart attack than those who had never owned a cat.
Numerous studies have suggested that pets, including cats, dogs, and other animals, are capable of reducing stress in their human companions. In fact, pet therapy is now a popular treatment for the sick and the elderly. Research has shown that both cats and dogs can lower blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.
But while cats and dogs share all kinds of similar health benefits for their humans, in this particular study dog owners did not seem to enjoy the same benefit as cat owners.
5. Cats are cheaper than dogs.
According to the ASPCA, owning a cat instead of a dog could save you a minimum of $300 to $800 a year — probably more.
Dogs are bigger than cats, on average, and are likely to run up higher food bills as a result. They also tend to require more toys, supplies, and services than cats, including crates, leashes, collars, and training classes. Routine veterinary expenses tend to be higher for dogs than for cats.
And the ASPCA tally doesn’t even factor in expenses such as boarding or dog-walking when the pet owners are away, expenses which are often bigger for dogs than for cats.