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September 9, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Of Dogs and Cats

The infamous black-and-white cat now has more housing at the bottom of Mount St than any Vic student ever has managed to muster, Googling ‘Garfield’ brings up the cat before the US president of the same name, and Will and Kate’s family photograph was not complete without their two dogs. In honour of our four-legged pals, this week’s Mad Science scratches the surface on what the research has to say about our relationship with Chairman Meow and Bark Simpson.

Let’s start with the infamous battle between cat- and dog-lovers, and what it means to be either. Cat-astrophic research by the University of Texas in Austin shows a difference in psychology between the two groups, with dog-lovers found to be about 15 per cent more extroverted and 13 per cent more agreeable, both of which are associated with social orientation. In addition, dog people were 11 per cent more conscientious than cat people. This trait shows a tendency to show self-discipline, to complete tasks, and aim for achievement (a.k.a. the perfect cocktail for university success).

In a less than purrfect comparison, cat-lovers were found to be 12 per cent more neurotic, but on a more pawsitive note were 11 per cent more open to art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, and variety of experience. A Ball State University study found that cat-owners saw themselves as more independent, while dog-owners described themselves as being friendlier.

On a more Sirius note, Schnauzer chance to understand what makes an animal-lover. University of Chicago research studied 1000 twins, some identical (sharing 100 per cent of their genes) and others fraternal (sharing 50 per cent of their genes). They found that the identical twins had more similar attitudes to pets than the fraternal twins, suggesting that animal-loving has an element of heritability. The team’s leader, Dr Kristen Jacobson, concluded that about 35 per cent of the differences in whether participants lavished attention on their pets was inherited. The same study found that the environment people grew up in had virtually no influence on the frequency at which they played with pets.

The final piece of research to get your claws into is University of Ohio work that shows pet-owners have greater self-esteem, are more physically fit and less lonely than non-owners. Now let’s meowta here and into the nearest RSPCA, I’m feline like a new friend.

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