I am a proud new (long distance) owner of a kitten. How this came to happen was, my friend’s cat had a litter. Since this was the cats second litter of the summer, she decided that she wasn’t going to keep the kittens from this litter. At first I joked around saying that this one kitten was going to be mine, always going over to hold, play, and take snapchats with it. One day my friend told me she was thinking about giving the kitten away to another family, and for some reason I started to consider actually making the kitten mine. When going through the process, all I could think about was how weird it was that I was getting a kitten, especially before ever getting my own puppy first! I have always been more of a dog person my whole life and always told myself I would never get my own a cat, but for some reason I just couldn’t resist. So really, how did this come to happen?!
Are we attracted to the cuteness of the animal rather than the animal itself? Can we feel a connection with an animal that makes us want to be the owner?
I think when agreeing to make the kitten mine, I wasn’t thinking about how she’s eventually going to turn into a full grown cat. In the moment, I was focused on her small round body, her soft and fluffy fur, her big white paws, her big bright eyes, her little meows, and her clumsy attempts at walking and playing. I just wanted that cute kitten to be mine. After doing some exploring online, I learned that there’s a scientific reasoning behind why we think the babies of species are so cute and why we feel obligated to care for them.
It just so happens that what we see as cute has to do with traits called kinderschema. Basically, the traits are utilized in our biology when trying to identify if something we see is cute or not. There are certain characteristics this trait looks for when trying to classify something as cute. According to Clark, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfedlt, founder of the field of human ethology, says the characteristics of cuteness the traits looks for are as follows: a large, round head; big eyes; round, chubby cheeks; round body; and a soft body. Interestingly enough, the kitten happened to have all of these qualities! Why we find these traits cute has to do with our human nature of caring for infants. (Clark 2013) This is why we want to hold, touch, and care for things that remind us of the babies of our species.
To add, studies done by the University of Texas and researcher Denise Guastello show that the type of pet owner you are can say a lot about your personality as well. The studies surveyed a large group of people on the type of animal they prefer to own, their personality traits, and what attracts them to that animal. The results of the studies helped to identify common traits of a dog person, cat person, neither or both.
Both studies typically resulted in finding that dog people are more extroverted, self-disciplined, agreeable, trusting, affectionate, talkative, easy-going and energetic. They found that a typical cat person tends to be more stressed, anxious, curious, creative, independent, conscientious and intelligent. Someone who is neither would possess little or none of these traits, and someone who is both would comprise of a majority of these traits.
Both studies also mentioned how environment may have a possible influence on these personality traits. If you think about it, this makes sense because someone who is more extroverted is going to want to do something with their outgoing and energetic nature such as be outdoors or go out and socialize, like a dog would. As someone who is more introverted is going to want to stay indoors and keep to themselves, like a cat would. Dogs are more social in their play because they always want to run around, go on a walk, or play catch with you. As cats are more commonly known to be indoor animals who like to explore the house, be cautious about what they’re playing with, hide, and rub up against the people they’re comfortable with.
According to both studies, majority of the people that were surveyed classified as being more of a dog person than cat person. But why are dogs more attractive furry friends than cats? According to Rettner, dog people enjoy the companionship that comes with a dog, as cat people are attracted to the clingy affection they get from cats. People find more things to do with dogs over cats, so they see them as not only a cuddle buddy, but a play pal as well. For example, people can’t go on runs or walks with their cat like they can with their dog.
After reading both descriptions of dog and cat people, I would definitely classify myself as both a dog and cat person. I believe my personality traits fall on both sides of the dog/cat spectrum, concluding why I may not mind the fact that I now am an owner of a cute kitten. I actually took a short quiz online (here) to see which category I placed into. Shockingly, the results of that test said I was 52% dog person and 48% cat person, definitely more than I expected for the cat side. The results basically told me that I have the qualities to get along with and love both animals equally. My assumption of being both a dog and cat person was correct, according to this one online survey. What are you? Comment letting me know or go take the quiz to find out!
Here’s a picture of my kitten (: