Do you have a cat? August 2, 2005 10:11 PM   Subscribe

There are often questions on ask metafilter about animals, but most of the time, the questions are about cats. It seems to me that--among pet owners--most metafilter users that have pets have cats. Is this so?
posted by interrobang to MetaFilter-Related at 10:11 PM (53 comments total)

Of interest from the NYTimes: Cats are the Web's It animal.
posted by vacapinta at 10:14 PM on August 2, 2005

Interrobang, I think it comes down to whether people here more own cats or dogs.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:16 PM on August 2, 2005

That's the whole point, though, mudpuppie; there is a disproportionate number of questions about cats on ask metafilter.
posted by interrobang at 10:18 PM on August 2, 2005

I've lived with two dogs and eight cats (not all at once.) None ever helped out with the bills.
posted by trondant at 10:18 PM on August 2, 2005

Right, interrobang, but that's the point!
posted by mudpuppie at 10:21 PM on August 2, 2005

posted by kenko at 10:23 PM on August 2, 2005

In a very non-scientific survey I did a while back, 38% of respondents had cats and 23% had dogs. Only 1% had hamsters.
posted by fvw at 10:29 PM on August 2, 2005

Ehm, I should say "A very non-scientific survey of MeFites".
posted by fvw at 10:30 PM on August 2, 2005

We have three ferrets.
posted by davy at 11:00 PM on August 2, 2005

In the US in general, there are now more cats as pets than dogs. Quite a bit more, I think. And, as the mefi demographic is probably an exageration of the US demographic that's driving cat ownership, it'd be even more pronounced here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:45 PM on August 2, 2005

One ferret is equal to three cats, two rats and a small dog.

I own 0.81 ferrets.
posted by loquacious at 11:51 PM on August 2, 2005

I own a dog, not a cat. I'm quite sure, if I passed out into a coma, my dog would knock the phone off the hook, dial the emergency number, and bark down the phone until an ambulance came. If I had a cat, I'm quite sure it would purr quietly as it decided which part of my face to nibble on first. YMMV.
posted by Jimbob at 12:01 AM on August 3, 2005

It might just mean that cats are more difficult to live with and therefore require more questions.
posted by grouse at 1:23 AM on August 3, 2005

Cats are easier to take care of. People generally don't get dogs until they're quite settled. Metafilter's member demographics skew a bit young and a bit urban-- people who tend to have cats rather than dogs.

I prefer dogs, but I have a cat-- I don't have to make elaborate plans to get home to walk the cat and we can just leave food out if we want to go away for the weekend. But I really love dogs and I bristle when someone suggests that I am a "cat person" because I have a cat.

Also, and this is a generalization, but cats are more prone to variations in their condition, at least when they're young. Dogs tend to be very healthy until they get old and fall apart, while cats seem to be prone to occasional discomfort their whole lives (but then live forever)--cats have weird digestive systems and have frequent, but usually minor, tough times.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:40 AM on August 3, 2005

Metafilter -> Young people -> Apartments -> Cats.
posted by smackfu at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2005

interrobang: "There are often questions on ask metafilter about animals, but most ofthe time, the questions are about cats. It seems to me that--among pet owners--most metafilter users that have pets have cats. Is this so?"

Woah, woah, woah. I think you're jumping to conclusions here. There are a lot more likely reasons that there are more AskMe questions about cats. Namely: Cat owners are stupid.

/me stokes the holy war
posted by Plutor at 6:50 AM on August 3, 2005

When I did a two year publishing program in college, my class seemed to be disproportionately cat loving. There were many presentations about cat book concepts that year. Other people besides dog-loving, cat-detesting me noticed this phenomenon, and the general consensus seemed to be that cats and books go together, that book lovers have a greater tendency to be cat lovers.

Given that MeFites are a very literate crowd, it might be a combination of this and the relatively young and urban demographic of the site, as Mayor Curley explains.
posted by orange swan at 6:55 AM on August 3, 2005

grouse has it right. Cats are just baffling, hence more questions.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:32 AM on August 3, 2005

Jimbob: The cat wouldn't have to wait at all. Eyes. It's *always* the eyes. They're so soft and delicious. When I had I cat, I always respected the semi-feralness of it.

Agree with curley. Cats require less space, less upkeep, and less attention. Smackfu might be onto something, too.

(Former cat owner, currently dog owner.)
posted by absalom at 7:54 AM on August 3, 2005

You notice how many people (proudly) declare that they “hate cats”? Why would anybody hate a small, furry, non-bubonic mammal? I don’t like dogs and would never own one, but “hate”?
posted by signal at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2005

Cats have ass buttons and licky spots.
posted by loquacious at 8:05 AM on August 3, 2005

Plutor has it right. Cat owners are just baffled.
posted by Carbolic at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2005

signal: Here's a frequent refrain I've heard from cat owners (myself included), regarding dogs: "What an incredibly stupid dog. I can't believe it just did that."

Usually in context of accidently watching one of those funny video or animal shows. Obviously not in real life, because most cat owners can't be bothered to actually go outside, what, with all those books to read and geeky things to do on the computer and all.

Dogs seem to lick me too much. They also like me for some strange reason. It's not like I'm going to throw up dinner for them. Despite this, we get along all too well.

Unless it's one of those little endlessly-barking yippy dogs that have had all the common sense and brains bred out of them, then the word "hate" isn't far off the mark.
posted by loquacious at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2005

loquacious: I, too, refer to most dogs as “that stupid dog”, or “look, two dumb dogs”, etc., but that’s just looking down on them, not hating, which is such a strong word, don’t you think?
The “I hate cats” crowd remind me of the “I hate Britney/Xtina/Avril/Ashlee/Jessica” crowd. Why devote so much energy (and bad karma) to something that should be beneath your contempt, and at most condescendingly tolerated?
posted by signal at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2005

My wife and I have two cats, which are primarily her responsibility, and five birds, which are primarily mine. I attribute our distaste for dogs and children to our hipster scum wannabeness.

(Yes, the cats generally leave the birds alone. All you have to do is try to keep them generally separated, and also yell "NO BIRDS!" a lot.)
posted by aaronetc at 9:07 AM on August 3, 2005

Since people seem to be sounding off . . . 2 gerbils, 2 rats, and one Ryvar.
posted by Ryvar at 9:15 AM on August 3, 2005

In order to counterbalance the blatantly catist agenda in this thread I present: the case against cats.
posted by johnny novak at 9:28 AM on August 3, 2005

Cat haters can be more angry and brutal than dog haters. Imagine seeing a bumper sticker that says "Lost your dog? Try looking under my tires." You can't, can you? But I've seen loads of anti-cat stickers wishing death on the poor little fuzzy loveable (yeah, selfish) adorable creatures.

Um, yes, I have a cat.
posted by goatdog at 9:33 AM on August 3, 2005

Cat hatred is rooted in the insecurity of cat haters, goatdog. "How could MY pet not possibly think I'M the center of the universe? I'm not boring! I'm not worthless!"


posted by Ryvar at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2005

Our two rabbits could kick the crap out of a lone cat or small dog. Of course, I'd probably tie steak knives to their heads just to make them extra fierce.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2005

-- Oh, Brain, don't be so intolerent. Why can't the horses and the mice live together in harmony along with the fairies and the wood sprites... and the bean sprouts...
posted by Wolfdog at 9:46 AM on August 3, 2005

I bloody hate cats (in particular my sister in law's cats). We would have dogs if we didn't live in 1000 sq ft in Astoria and work 8-5.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:51 AM on August 3, 2005

Dog people hate cats. Cat people hate dog people. And they're basically unamerican flag-burners. Seriously, how can you live with yourselves?

The only pet my parents let me have was a hamster.
posted by Plutor at 10:26 AM on August 3, 2005


Heh. I think I'll yell that at random for the next week. Don't know why that tickled me so much.



posted by frykitty at 10:28 AM on August 3, 2005

Every time we have one of these threads I feel bisexual. Why are cats and dogs mutually exclusive? I've always had both & I love both, in some kind of creepy masochistic way, since they take turns driving me batshit insane: today the dog tried to eat a library book and yesterday the cat peed in the laundry. I have come to believe that smart people don't have pets.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2005

I think the thesis is sound, for some fairly obvious reasons (we've got 3 cats, in case anyone cares):

- MeFi is primarily urban. Cats are much more of an urban pet than dogs, due to space limitations.

- Cats, as everyone has said, are fundamentally more puzzling in their behavior than dogs. They're also untrainable, which makes bad kitty behavior extra frustrating.

- Cats are usually free or dirt cheap.

- Correllary: Cats are often given to other people. People never seem to want to part with their dogs, but will give up a cat for the slightest reason.
posted by mkultra at 11:29 AM on August 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

Dog owners have better hygiene. Cat owners have better weed.
posted by gigawhat? at 11:34 AM on August 3, 2005

I'd like to know what percentage of the people who post the "I have a potato size lump on my neck. What should I do?" questions are cat owners.
posted by Carbolic at 12:12 PM on August 3, 2005

They've had their own Broadway musical !!!

Where's "Dogs?" Just sayin'.
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on August 3, 2005

Mayor Curley has it right.

Meanwhile, Metafilter -> Young people -> Apartments -> Cats

Doohickie !-> Young Person !-> Apartment !-> Cats
Doohickie -> Old Fart -> House -> Dogs
posted by Doohickie at 1:29 PM on August 3, 2005

Doohickie -> Representative MeFi User (?) [as if such a creature could even be said to exist]
posted by absalom at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2005

I actually can understand the cat hate. I absolutely despised cats until I got one. I thought they were the most pointless, selfish things, and besides, who wants a fucking box of shit in their house?

One of my ex-girlfriends really wanted a cat, but she lived in a co-op, and pets weren't allowed. So one christmas, I decided to give her the gift of Ultimate Self Sacrifice: I would get her a cat, and it would live in my apartment.

I was a little wary, because I HATED CATS.

However, once we got the kitten, I started going home from work everyday at lunch--just to see the cat. Now I love the cat, and I love all cats. I find their selfishness oddly charming, and their percieved dignity hilarious. You could never come home from work and find a dog on top of the refrigerator. Boing's up there all the time.

Anyway, the girlfriend and I broke up, and the cat stayed with me. There was no way I was going to let it go, and anyway, she still lived in that co-op.
posted by interrobang at 3:48 PM on August 3, 2005

Could preference have much to do with childhood experience? We had both a cat and a dog when I was a kid, and I like both cats and dogs and see no reason to argue which is "better". They're different. But that's the problem: they are very different. If you grow up having one but not the other as a pet, the other will seem very alien. Maybe.

In general I'm not a "hater" and I'm always baffled by people who invest a lot of energy in hating things. But particularly with regard to dogs and cats, I always want to argue the distinct virtues of each, show how they each, in different ways, make great pets.

Oh, also there's the thing about having had a bad experience with a dog or a cat. Lots of folks have been bitten by dogs and, understandly, fear and dislike them. A cat can't kill you. On the other hand, cats can be very unfriendly and hissy and a pain in the ass, and so lots of folks have that as their primary impression of them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:49 PM on August 3, 2005

Also, about so many cat questions, there's what is in my experience the fact that cat owners talk about their cats more than dog owners talk about their dogs. At least in the sense of telling stories about them and their antics. I've decided that this is because cats just are more prone to doing unexpected and weird things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:51 PM on August 3, 2005

Ethereal Bligh, something I forgot to mention in my cat story--and yes, I do talk about my cat a lot--is that Boing is my first pet ever. I didn't even have so much of a goldfish when I was growing up, and before I got the cat, I didn't really understand *why* people had pets to begin with.

I've been chased by dogs, and bitten by them, and barked at, but that's not really the reason I don't like dogs. I didn't really even interact with dogs (aside from getting chased and bitten and barked at) until I knew someone in college who had one, and I thought it was a hilarious animal. I understood all those Chuck Jones cartoons much better after that.

I don't dislike dogs because I like cats; I dislike dogs because they smell bad, they're needy, and they're just too enthusiastic about everything.
posted by interrobang at 5:02 PM on August 3, 2005

"I dislike dogs because they smell bad, they're needy, and they're just too enthusiastic about everything."

Yeah, those are vices in my opinion, too. Other people really like that in dogs. My childhood dog was a medium sized sheep-dog/poodle mix (looked like a medium sized sheep dog) and she didn't smell bad, didn't drool, wasn't too needy, and wasn't too hyper. And she was very smart and independent. It was a small town, so she ran free and had her own life while I was at school. She hung out at the university during the day and always had several students who were her friends. She always knew when it was time for me to be home from school, though, and would be waiting for me. She was a remarkable animal and that's part of why I haven't had a dog as a pet as an adult.

My cat, who died in Dec at 14 years old, was a perversely difficult cat who hated all other animals and almost all other people besides me. And she could be pretty mean to me, too. I loved her anyway. I never blamed her for her temperment, I felt sorry for her because it would often make her unhappy.

But the real lesson in having her as a pet for all those years is that she was a challenge to me. You might guess this from my mefi persona, but I don't bend at all, really, and I pretty much expect everyone to accomodate my personality. It is selfish, I agree. Anyway, I tried to dominate my cat, to get her to always do what I wanted her to do, and that was doomed to failure. I had to learn to accomodate her, which was a good lesson for me, I think. I really respect that you can't dominate a cat--a cat will fight you to the death. I think they're really interesting animals.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:17 PM on August 3, 2005

Owning a cat is like having a pet extrasolar alien life form that's constantly on heavy psychedelic drugs. They may throw up on or in your shoes. They enjoy doing/eating/knocking over strange things at night and otherwise waking you up and bewildering you. They generally don't have any formal logic system. But if they did have one, it would go something like "Can I sleep on or in it? If not, try anyway. If that still doesn't work, try to confuse it"

Owning a dog is like having an overexcitable and mentally deficient 6 year old human that just so happens to lack working thumbs. They may throw up on or in your shoes, but then they might also eat your shoes. Or they'll eat your shoes, throw them up in another pair of shoes and then eat those shoes. They generally use a simplistic binary logic system: "Can I eat it? If not, bark at it."

One will often confuse and/or snub you, and the other is loyal and eager to please to the point of annoyance.
posted by loquacious at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

Excellent summary, loquacious.
posted by interrobang at 7:09 PM on August 3, 2005

I've only had an actual account for two days, and already I've sneakily linked to five photos of my dog. Six. Seven.

I also have a cat. She gets no links. (Eight.)
posted by The Monkey at 12:50 AM on August 4, 2005

No cats here. But is there anyone left on Metafilter who doesn't know what my dog looks like? : )
posted by SisterHavana at 2:31 PM on August 4, 2005

Oh s/he's cute, SisterHavana!

Speaking of pictures...didn't someone mention a book lover + cats thing upthread? One of my cats loves books.

Cats, for me, it's an apartment thing.
posted by safetyfork at 3:20 PM on August 4, 2005

I dislike dogs because they smell bad, they're needy, and they're just too enthusiastic about everything

You need to get a bulldog. Bulldogs:

Do not smell.

Do not fetch.

Do not bark.

Fanny doesn't even take walks in the summer-- it is too hot in the South. So in July and August her life revolves around taking naps on the couch and taking naps on the kitchen floor. And in-between naps under the coffee table.

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:16 AM on August 5, 2005

I'm more of a cat person, but she's allergic to cats -- after four years of allergy shots petting them still makes her itch and concentrated catness causes wheezes. So when she decided to get a pet she did a bunch of research, checked out a few pet stores, etc., and got fascinated by ferrets. (For interested parties, a decent if dated place to start is Ferret Central.) Incidentally, adult ferrets are becoming easier to find at animal shelters; I gather that, unlike grown-up Easter bunnies, they're not very tasty.

But now we're thinking we might want a dog (she grew up with dogs), which is harder: finding a dog who'll be okay in an apartment is hard enough, finding a small dog who's not a yappy picky critter is tougher, and the toughest part of all is finding a reasonably quiet apartment-keepable dog who won't kill the ferrets the first chance s/he gets -- lots of breeds were meant to kill small animals, and mutts are unpredictable.

But anyway.
posted by davy at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2005

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