Several readers pointed me to a post on Wonkblog (at The Washington Post) about the relative popularity of cats and d*gs not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. The data are based on a 2012 poll by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and another by Euromonitor.
The news is heartening for us ailurophiles: although 36.5% of American households own at least one d*g, while only 30.4% own a cat (3.1% own birds, and only 0.00000003% own Snowball, the Dancing Cockatoo [coincidentally, one of our readers]), there are now more cats than d*gs! This from Wonkblog:
Here in the U.S., slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s estimate [see Table below]). Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers.
This is bogus, obviously written by d*g lovers. There are more cats not because they’re more compact, but because they are more awesome: they clean themselves, are lovely to look at and soft to the touch, don’t require walks and scat-scooping, purr, and don’t smell bad.
But there’s another reason: look how much cheaper it is to have a kitty—less than 42% the cost of having a d*g when you take into account that the average pet-owning household has more cats than d*gs. Thes per household stats are from the AVMA:
The scale below is a bit confusing, and not explained in the text, but I believe the ratios given by the colors represent the ratio of total cats to dogs (on the left) and dogs to cats (on the right; this is a lousy way to make a plot). The only states for which there are no data are Alaska and Hawaii. Greenish states are cat states, purplish ones d*g states:
Now I’d like t think that the less religious states are more cat-friendly, because, of course, the cat is the Official Atheist Pet™. But Wonkblog gives another explanation for a higher cat/dog ratio in the Northeast:
At the state level in the U.S., cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. The most dog-friendly state is Arkansas, where dogs outnumber cats 1.35-to-1. At the other end of the spectrum stands Massachusetts with 1.87 cats for every dog.
“A lot of that simply has to do with population density,” Jared Koerten, a pet industry analyst at Euromonitor, said in an interview. “Many cities just aren’t that dog-friendly.”
Well, I don’t know, because Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the upper Midwest aren’t very crowded, and yet are still Cat States. (North and South Dakota have high population densities?) Perhaps some readers with too much time on their hands can partition out population density and other factors from religiosity (income is a likely one, but lower income promotes higher religiosity). And of course there are those annoying other variables that could explain the data. So for now, given that this is a lighthearted post, I’ll just indulge in some wish-thinking that less religious and more educated people prefer cats.
And I bet that if you calculate the religiosity of the two groups of states listed below, and simply do a nonparametric Mann-Whitney U test, you’ll find a significant difference, with significantly higher religiosity (I predict p < 0.01) in D*g States. Could it be that freethinkers prefer cats because those pet owners neither worship Gods nor like to be worshipped (d*gs, of course, are like slavish believers who worship their owners).
Top 10 dog-loving states
|Rank||State||Cats||Dogs||Ratio, dogs to cats|
Top 10 cat-loving states
|Rank||State||Cats||Dogs||Ratio, cats to dogs|
|6||District of Columbia||63,000||42,000||1.50|
Oh, and below are the data divided by country. The same trend seems evident to me (again, this is wish-thinking), with the least religious nations being the most cat-loving. But that could be scotched by China (atheistic but d*g loving), and by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which are religious but deeply ailurophilic. (The Turks do love their cats!) South America, Eastern Europe, and Spain are notably d*g loving and also religious, and we’ll just forget about Australia because the data could be contaminated by dingos.
And we clearly need more data from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, which are very religious countries but provide no data on pet ownership. Remember, too, that if this is dictated by economics, the richest countries should be more d*g friendly, as d*gs cost more to maintain; but the data seem to say the opposite.
And remember that this post is for fun, so don’t go after me. No pedantry! Anyone pointing out that free-running cats kill birds (the inevitable tut-tutting on a cat post) will be banned. But by all means offer your own theories for the geographical distributions shown above. And, since this is my site, I can still declare cats the Official Atheist Pet™ and cowboy boots the Official Atheist Footwear™.