It’s not uncommon in the pet world to consider individuals as either “cat people” or “dog people,” with a few individuals falling somewhere in between. While you might consider those stereotypes just a silly way of labeling people, there is actually a bit of science behind the personality compatibilities of pet people from both sides of the fence.
At least, that’s what Samuel D. Gosling, Ph.D., author of “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” has found. “We did a study looking at the personality differences between dog and cat people when it comes to the big five personality traits,” says Gosling. “What we found were statistically significant differences between cat and dog people when it comes to those traits.”
According to the research, people who are either dog or cat people can be categorized as falling somewhere on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
So what happens when a cat person with wildly different personality traits marries-or moves in with-a dog person whose traits lie on the other end of the scale? “It’s a huge step in the right direction just being able to understand why a cat person or dog person acts the way he or she does,” says Gosling. “They aren’t trying to be passive aggressive or insult you by doing these things-it’s just their personality.”
When it comes to moving in together, three of the five personality traits may show up in a big way relating to decorating, social situations and other areas of compatibility. Here are some common problems that come up between dog people and cat people, and some suggestions on how to move past them to reach domestic bliss.
Social Situations Cause Tension
When it comes to introverted and extroverted personalities, according to Gosling’s research, dog people tend to be more extroverted. Cat people, in comparison, prefer the company of one or two friends (and their cats!) to a large gathering. “Dog people like inviting spaces, so they’re more likely to set their homes up for entertaining and parties,” says Gosling. “Cat people, on the other hand, prefer quiet, one-on-one conversation or relaxing spots for reading a book.”
How to handle the difference: The two C’s will be extra important here-communication and compromise. If you’re an introvert moving in with an extrovert, or vice versa, always discuss social calendars ahead of time, and plan your weekends so there is a healthy combination of both social activities and quiet downtime at home with the pets.
Cleanliness Becomes a Problem
In terms of conscientiousness, dog people tend to score higher on this scale than cat people. “That means that, on average, dog people tend to have their spaces more organized, orderly, neat and clean,” says Gosling, “while cat people tend to be less organized.” For instance, explains Gosling, cat people don’t buy that extra roll of toilet paper until the last roll has run out.
How to handle the difference: If it’s in the budget, springing for a cleaning lady to visit the house once a week might help stave off the cleanliness arguments. If that’s not an option, consider assigning specific chores to specific people, to be done at specific times. Maybe it’s a little more regimented than you’d like, but the system can provide order to the opposite habits of cat and dog pet parents.
Decorating Styles Differ
Cat people are often more open and interested in a diversity of things, says Gosling. “A cat person is more likely to want to have something unconventional on the walls, like original works of art,” he explains. “Dog people, on the other hand, are more conventional and traditional. They’re more likely to stick with sports memorabilia and leave it at that.”
How to handle the difference: Assigning different areas of the house to one person in terms of decorating can really help. For example, allow the “cat person” to decorate the hallway with different artwork picked up from his or her travels, while the “dog person” can hang his or her team pennants in the office.
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