Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Which do you prefer: cats or dogs? The most divisive question found in our culture today, the answer to this question results in the person submitting themselves to social assumptions defined by trivial traits assigned to both animals.
For example, if someone responds that they do not like cats, what is your immediate response? Is it to change the topic and not show them the twenty-five pictures of your fat tabby or do you shrug your shoulders and show them your beloved animal anyways?
This is important because the moment that a person opens up about their preferences, regarding animals or anything else, they are always open to judgment. This is so ingrained that we hardly think about it, but we have even assigned personality traits to dog and cat lovers. Grouping them together apparently helps the animal community figure out ‘who you are.’
So, the moment that you decide to answer “Do you prefer cats or dogs,” you are immediately submitting yourself to whatever stereotypes are commonly associated with that animal.
Domestic cats are known for their introverted, shy personalities because they are a predatory species. It is a cat’s instinct to run and hide at the smallest sound or the tiniest movement because, to them, that could indicate danger or potential prey. People forget that it is a normal response for this species to run and hide especially from something unknown.
Cats are commonly thought of as finicky, indifferent, lazy and, regardless of whether or not the association is steeped in sexism, feminine. As a result, these traits are then transferred to either the enthusiast or owner. An example of a stereotypical cat person is someone who most likely prefers to stay indoors and who can be rough around the edges but soft on the inside.
On the other hand, dogs are typically extroverted, friendly and loyal. A canine will always have your back, even if it is a chihuahua, because this species was bred to be man’s best friend.
As seen with the other example, a dog person will embody the characteristics in a way that subtly connotes good-natured masculinity. While the first example that comes to mind is the frat guy that is always associated with golden retriever energy, a more specific example is a person who knows how to have a good time and loves sunshine, car rides and music.
While this is all cool, these divisive groupings often allow people to forget the cats and dogs are different species; they should be treated as such. While both are household pets, they have vastly different diets, sleeping patterns, vocalizations, socialization and training techniques.
Just because your golden retriever is a pack animal who relies on you for everything, it does not mean that a cat should too. It would not make sense if it did. Felines are solitary animals who bask in the joy of finding a quiet hiding place where no one can find them.
Reducing animals to trivial characteristics, like them being moody or playful, is erasing the fine details of who they actually are – just like assuming that someone who is a dog or cat person also shares those made-up traits.