Cats vs. d*gs: which is more popular, and where?

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:

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 9.43.23 AM

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:

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 2.48.06 AM

Now when I saw that figure, it looked familiar. Indeed, it’s strikingly similar to the plot of the degree of American religiosity among states as taken from a 2011 Gallup Poll (graphics by CityLab):

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 2.53.59 AM

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
1 Arkansas 810,000 1,097,000 1.35
2 New Mexico 533,000 703,000 1.32
3 Texas 5,565,000 7,163,000 1.29
4 Oklahoma 1,041,000 1,327,000 1.27
5 Louisiana 877,000 1,115,000 1.27
6 Mississippi 668,000 846,000 1.27
7 Arizona 1,438,000 1,798,000 1.25
8 Tennessee 1,749,000 2,157,000 1.23
9 Missouri 1,653,000 1,978,000 1.20
10 Georgia 2,162,000 2,479,000 1.15

Top 10 cat-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, cats to dogs
1 Massachusetts 1,593,000 850,000 1.87
2 Maryland 1,677,000 915,000 1.83
3 Maine 498,000 300,000 1.66
4 Vermont 234,000 142,000 1.65
5 Connecticut 796,000 507,000 1.57
6 District of Columbia 63,000 42,000 1.50
7 New Hampshire 309,000 212,000 1.46
8 Pennsylvania 3,544,000 2,485,000 1.43
9 New York 4,261,000 3,054,000 1.40
10 Ohio 3,786,000 2,730,000 1.39

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.

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 2.48.34 AM

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™.

h/t: Jente

93 Comments

  1. Adam M.
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    RE: “36.5% of American households own at least one cat, while a mere 30.4% own a d*g” I think it’s the other way around, unless I’m totally misreading the table. There are still more cats than dogs, though!

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      I screwed up and got the figures backwards. There are more d*g owning households but each cat-owning household has more cats. That more than compensates.

      • Mobius
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        But in terms of biomass, the dogs win.

        • eric
          Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Maybe. But I don’t see how biomass is a measure of popularity. If it is, woo hoo for me! I’m gonna go eat another hamburger now.

  2. Kingasaurus
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Interesting. Maybe one contributing factor is because cats tend to be a little more low-maintenance if you live in a colder climate? That’s one reason I have two cats and no dogs.

    Just a guess.

  3. Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    As I write this comment I have two 4-month old kittens helping me by pawing at the screen and mashing keyboard buttons. They are doing their part by trying to turn Alabama more greenish on the cat population map, and I am doing my part by reducing the state’s religiosity.

    My own theory on feline v. canine ownership is what people need the pet for. In more conservative states, dogs are popular because they help guard a home and can be taken hunting. They also do not question authority.

    For more freethinking homes, cats are equally independently-minded and very low maintenance. A cat will take itself to the litter box, clean itself, and do a good job of making sure string and related products are dead/immobile.

    About the only advantage a dog has is in its typing skills, but I’m hoping to rectify this soon.

    • eric
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      On the US map, urbanization seems to be a factor: with some exceptions (Idaho, you big meow lover) rural states seem to prefer dogs more. Which makes complete sense in terms of amount of space needed per animal.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I wonder if the toilet paper fitted correctly in the under position would also correlate with cat ownership because it stops cats from unwinding the whole tube of toilet paper.

    • Erik Verbruggen
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Not in my case. I have 2 “objective” reasons for why toilet paper should be positioned with the leaf towards you: 1) in school I was taught it is more hygienic (no wall contact), and 2) since they are often positionex on the right to accomodate the right handed fraction of society, it is nice for our left handed conspecifics like me because it is easier to reach.

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Yay for the dumb-arms! (Slang for left-handed in the US.) I had two of our bathrooms remodeled and had the contractor install the tp holders on the left. Sorry right-handers, I got my revenge. muwahahahaha!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Oddly I think I use the opposite hand to the TP reach to for the TP no matter what – left or right. I also text with my left hand – I use my left for almost everything except writing.

          Pffft. You can’t stop me with hands….all your tp is belong to us.

          • Mark R.
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            Well I guess you are ambidextrous then. I’m only right handed with some of the things my dad taught me- mainly shooting pool and fishing. He never thought to compensate for my dumb-arm. :)

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 2, 2014 at 4:35 am | Permalink

              In my recent six-week trip to France and England I only observed ONE toilet roll fitted incorrectly in the under position. Which I felt obliged to conscientiously correct. I must apologise for my differences with Diana on this score, but this is a matter of deeply held belief and not amenable to rational argument. (With a little effort it could be turned into a Holy War (TM) )

              • Posted August 2, 2014 at 5:48 am | Permalink

                No, there are reasons on both sides but to my mind the “regular” way is better than Diana’s. Now she’ll come over here and defend her religion!

                Besides, cats like the regular way, and that should quell all arguments.

  5. Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Could it be that freethinkers prefer cats because those pet owners neither worship Gods nor like to be worshipped

    Actually, I think you might have that backwards.

    We atheists invite cats into our homes so we might be closer to our gods and worship them regularly.

    And you’ve even posted video evidence of this applying to yourself. You did, did you not, make the sign of the bellyrub recently there in Poland, did you not?

    b&

  6. Jim Knight
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There is also a rough correlation with how a state generally votes and how many dogs it has. I guess we can’t count Alaska – there probably aren’t many cat sleds up there…?

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Can you imagine the sled races with teams of cats? Kittyditarod.

  7. Slumbery
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Among the four Eastern European countries that are marked as dog lovers only Poland is known to be particularly religious, Check republic and Slovakia definitely not and I do not know about Ukraine but they do not have that reputation either.

    • Chris
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      Slovakia is still quite religious, although not as much as Poland. Church is still a big thing in the smaller towns.

      It’s also very agricultural/rural and hunting is a big thing too which probably explains the d*gginess. Czech Rep is similar, although it’s a richer country.

  8. Ian Hewitson
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Cowboy boots the official atheist footwear? Who’d a thought THAT, eh?

    Just to add something else into the dogs v cats and religiosity discussion, have a gander at this.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/malaysia/10995961/Commonwealth-Games-Scottie-dogs-disrespectful-to-Muslims.html

    I’m surprised by this but even more surprised they didn’t take greater offence to the gay kiss that featured prominently in the opening ceremony and which got a lot of those that inhabit the Telegraph comments sewer in a right old lather!

  9. Barry Lyons
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I think I can sum up Jerry’s view (and mine): “I like other people’s dogs.”

  10. Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    A few things that these numbers don’t show:
    1. I suspect that people who have 5, 10, or even 20+ cats are more common than those who have that many dogs.
    2. Non-farm cats are kept mostly as pets. Dogs are also kept for hunting, travelling/hiking companions, sport (canine agility training, etc.), assistance for disabled people, and the big one: guard animals and weapons. It would be interesting to see the correlation between dog ownership and gun ownership.
    3. Renters are more likely to be allowed to have a cat than a dog.

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Point #3 is the reason I’m paying way more than my apt is worth right now because my new apartment was the only one available in the neighborhood that would accept Hitch and LeBron. (My terrier mix and retriever) Anecdotally, I’m lead to believe that the correlation between gun ownership and dog ownership is strong as every hunter I know has at lest one dog. I’m not averse to cats, but my allergies very much are.

      • Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I don’t hunt, but hunting (and keeping various types of hunting dogs) has a long tradition on one side of my family; those people also dislike cats. But I was thinking more of the urban and suburban handgun-and-big-mean-dog kind of ownership.

        Our first house in Tucson was half of a cardboard-roofed duplex hovel that we rented because it was the only place that would accept my cat AND my husband’s ancient shepherd-husky.

        • Posted July 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          I’d imagine that you’re probably right, although I’m unaware of any data confirming your hypothesis. I can attest anecdotally that owning both an attack dog and a hand gun are common traits of overly aggressive people I’ve had the misfortune of having to deal with. I was party to an incident in which a young neighbor of mine, probably 16 or so, pelted another neighbor’s dog with a football because it was menacing his younger sister. This animal was a problem for the entire neighborhood. In response the dog’s owner knocked on the door of a widowed woman and her two kids with a nickel-plated semi-automatic tucked into his waist Funny that Mr. Machismo didn’t choose to try to intimidate me when we got into it, just the women and children. I wish this was the only gun play between neighbors story I had, but alas it is not. Such is life in a red/dog state.

  11. Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I can tell you that on my trips to India, I saw many cats, but few that lived in households. My relatives in Calcutta all thought of cats as street scavengers, like rats. They view them as disgusting creatures. This was true, at least, of the older women among them.

  12. Luis
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I hang my face in shame. My country is deep purple in this map (although me and my family are working hard to reverse the trend by owning many kitties).

  13. eric
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Good to see that cats are still heavily favored in the country that brought us Bast.

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I noticed that too. The goddess still rules in her homeland.
      Hmmm, she rules in Saudi Arabia too, I guess that’s at least one positive thing to say about that country.

  14. watson
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    As a resident of New Hampshire, the second least religious state in the country, and owner of both a cat and a d*g, my opinion is that cat preference is most likely related to climate. Walking, playing and potty times become much more challenging when walls of snow make your driveway half its summer width. For the most part d*g regions seem to be areas less impacted by snow and ice.

  15. DrBrydon
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    We have two cats. I never wanted a dog, but my wife insisted, and now I am sorry I never had one before. All I can say is, the dog is always glad to see me. I can just go get the mail, and she is waiting for me, with her tail wagging to beat the band.

    But what I really wanted to say is, Did you hear the one about the insomniac, dyslexic, agnostic, who lay awake all night wondering whether there really was a dog?

  16. Erik Verbruggen
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    My country is blue, and I own two cats but no dog. I can fill an unknown in the map qualitatively: when recently travelling from costa-rica to panama it struck me how many dogs there were in the former and how many cats in the latter. In panama they sure like cats! Any knowledge on their religiosity compared to ticos?

  17. Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I also think there is an unaccounted urban/rural factor in that it’s easier in the city to have a cat (Ironwing makes the point about renting but it takes a fair bit of dedication to exercise a dog adequately in the city and I think a much higher level of responsibility for a dog’s overall physical welfare).

    Rural places usually have a lot of both.

  18. Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I am thinking that the dog-dominated states are ranch states–working dogs, big dogs, dogs who can hold their own against coyotes and wolves and other predators. Cats on the other hand make tasty snacks, but get along better in cities since they are street savvy and survivalists.

  19. MP
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The deep purple colour of India might have more to do with the large number of stray dogs on the streets and less with the fondness of dogs.

  20. Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    The worst smell in the world is c*t spray. Dog are useful and the perfect companion for families who are active. C*ts are for city-types who never go outdoors. Like going for a walk is a bad thing…

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know many city-types who never go outdoors. I see thousands of people outdoors every day in my city, on the street, in the parks, on the waterfront, in the shopping districts, and so on. At rush hour the sidewalks are jammed with people — many of them cat lovers, I suspect.

      • Posted July 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Of course people have to go outside. I’m referring to those that want to be outside. Outside meaning the rivers, the desert, the mountains, the forest, and so on. Nothing beats a canoe trip with my family and our dog. He swims with our children and makes them feel safe. There are dozens of reasons why dogs are better pets than c*ts, but I will grant that lifestyle plaus a part in peoples choices.

  21. Taz
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    don’t require walks and scat-scooping

    I’ll give you walks, but as a long-time cat owner I beg to differ on the scat-scooping.

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I’ve owned dogs my whole life and I’ve scooped way more poo (so proud to be posting this in a public forum) out of my sister’s cat’s litter box when I house sit than the rest of my life combined.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        I take it you don’t live in a city where dog walkers are required to pick up their pet’s poo.

        • Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          I am, but my 4-legged homies have their own yard, so I don’t need to scoop any poop.

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            So instead of picking up the poop, dogs owners have the option of giving over a chunk of real estate to be a permanent dog poop zone.

            Still not seeing how this is a point in favor of dogs.

            • Posted July 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

              Not so much an argument for dog owners as explaining why I don’t have to pick up their leavings. Plus cat owners have to have litter boxes inside the house. Which is not an argument against cats acquiring a human staff, just adding perspective.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

              If you live in the country, as I do, the poo dries up and blows away in no time. I never scoop poop and I’m sure my dog isn’t the only animal who poops in my yard.

              • Matt G
                Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                So no need to mount little rolls of toilet paper for them, eh?

            • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
              Posted July 30, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              How considerate! You didn’t call the resulting analysis “excrement”…

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        One of the many reasons why I miss living in San Diego is that there were pill bugs (rolly pollies) that would quickly mass over the d*g poo, and eat it. It would be gone in a couple days.

  22. Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    As someone above mentioned, there’s a pretty good correlation between Blue and Cat states verses Red and D*g states.

    I don’t have either, but in my family most are anti-cat.

  23. Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    At this point I have to think that Jerry Coyne is a composite of several individuals, or, perhaps a cyborg. How can you publish a book, teach, moderate this website and remain abreast of the latest developments in the worlds kitties and cowboy boots? Maybe you’re multiple cyborgs!!! That’s probably it.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      He is maybe at 0.9 Pinkahs, which is the unit of measure for being able to multi-task like Steven Pinker.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Or possibly he has retained as a vestigial trait, the dinosaur-trait of having two brains. They had a second one at the back of their tails. In a human, it would be at the bottom of the spinal cord under the tail-bone. :)

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        Since it is a biology site (who am I kidding, nitpicking is fun!), there was never evidence for “two brains”. And today I think the consensus is that it was an ossification (as a response to stresses put on the skeleton, I guess) or something like that, but not evidence for neural growth.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-double-dinosaur-brain-myth-12155823/?no-ist

        And this is yet another warning to me not to go from memory until checking, because I made a general *FAIL*. Dinosaurs did have expansion of the cord and the specific feature was a cavity but it wasn’t filled with cord matter:

        “Sauropods and stegosaurs seemed like the perfect candidates for butt brains. These huge dinosaurs seemed to have pitiful brain sizes compared to the rest of their body, and a second brain–or similar organ–could have helped coordinate their back legs and tails. Alternatively, the second brain was sometimes cast as a kind of junction box, speeding up signals from the back half of the body up to the primary brain. That is, if such an organ actually existed. As paleontologists now know, no dinosaur had a second brain.

        There are two intertwined issues here. The first is that many dinosaurs had noticeable expansions of their spinal cords around their limbs–a feature that left its mark in the size of the neural canal in the vertebrae. This isn’t unusual. As biologists have discovered by studying living species, the enlargement of the spinal cord in the area around the limbs means that there was a greater amount of nervous system tissue in this area, and dinosaurs with larger expansions around the forelimb, for example, probably used their arms more often than dinosaurs without the same kind of enlargement. The expansion of the neural canal can give us some indication about dinosaur movement and behavior.

        But the so-called “sacral brain” is something different. So far, this distinct kind of cavity is only seen in stegosaurs and sauropods and is different than the typical expansion of the neural canal. There was something else, other than nerves, filling that space. Frustratingly, though, we don’t really know what that something is.

        At the moment, the most promising idea is that the space was similar to a feature in the hips of birds called the glycogen body. As sauropod expert Matt Wedel has pointed out, this space stores energy-rich glycogen in the hips. Perhaps this was true for the sauropods and stegosaurs, too. Again, though, we hit a snag. We don’t really know what the glycogen body does in birds–whether it helps with balance, is a storehouse for nutritious compounds that are drawn upon at specific times or something else. Even if we assume that the expansion in dinosaurs was a glycogen body, we don’t yet know what biological role the feature played. Dinosaurs didn’t have hindbrains, but the significant spaces in the hips of stegosaurs and sauropods still puzzle paleontologists.”

        Further refs in the linked article.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 30, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          Thanks, Torbjörn. Another piece of false information I won’t be carrying around anymore.

  24. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    You left out the most important point: who wants to watch Internet dog videos?

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      There are some great ones out there! Just like cat videos. C’mon, you should try it, you might like it. ;)
      There’s one that is viral right now of a dog passing out after being reunited with its owner after 2 years. I won’t offend by posting a link. Google can find it for you if interested.

  25. kieran
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Free running cats are awesome http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMUqfDlEFlA

  26. nicky
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always been puzzeled: are you a d*g person or a cat person? I can’t really answer that. I’ve owned d*gs and have been owned by cats. Is it impossible to love both?
    No, it isn’t obviously, since I do.

    I’d say I love cats more (they are the undisputed crown of creation as pettability goes), but I’m also more ambivalent about cats,
    They are compulsory murderers. Love them and hate them.
    But let me tell (if I’m allowed such a long tale) -it might infringe on the roolz- the tale of my last cat.
    I was in Kranshoek, a township in the middle of nowhere. This kitty crept up in my sleeping bag and was literally, physically, thrown out by my partner. On the way back we noticed a joy rider: our kitten.
    Ever since he was our love and joy. I’ve had a lot of cats in my life, but he was special, the top, I mean so social and nearly d*g like empathic.
    Alas. he was murdered by the huskies next door, I jumped in, but too late, his little neck was already broken. I nave trouble now not to hste huskies.
    I do not, I fancy, but it takes some effort.

  27. frankschmidtmissouri
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I wonder about the data. We were in France last month and saw virtually no cats, but lots of dogs. And why no data for Poland?

  28. Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Possibly relevant: http://www.carrollu.edu/newsevents/newsdetail.asp?id=2217

  29. Mark R.
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I would love to own a cat again, but we live in the boonies, and all my neighbors say with the owls, coyotes, bob cats, and cougars, cats don’t usually last more than a year unless they are strictly indoor cats. Perhaps that is another reason rural areas have less cats. My folks have a ranch in Wyoming and they have barn cats that keep down the mice/rat population. I wouldn’t be surprised if many ranchers and the like do indeed use cats for this purpose.
    As a few have stated already, states with high gun ownership will undoubtedly have high dog ownership. Most hunters own hunting dogs, and most rural gun owners are hunters…and usually republidumb. I don’t know why, but it seems like hunting-dog owners really hate cats. At least the one’s I’ve met.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      I meant “ones” I’ve met. I get apostrophe happy when typing too fast.

  30. Mark R.
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the like, I found this.

    Most Muslim scholars agree that the saliva of a dog is ritually impure, and that contact with a dog’s saliva requires one to wash seven times. This ruling comes from the hadith:
    The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If a dog licks the vessel of any one of you, let him throw away whatever was in it and wash it seven times.” (Reported by Muslim)

  31. MAZMANIANAC
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    As to the prevalence of cats in Muslim countries, dogs are regarded as unclean while cats are clean–along with camels(go figure)and Mohammed was allegedly a cat lover

  32. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what the statistics are for monastery and convent pets? I predict that cats would significantly outnumber dogs!

  33. Matt G
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    When you think about cat and d*g personalities and social structure, it all makes sense. Republicans like obedience, authority over others, and a well defined pecking order (think about the military, corporations, and religious organizations, all of which are revered by Republicans).

  34. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I long ago observed that the very liberal seminary I attended had an enormous dog-population while most of the major atheist activists I know in the Bay Area own cats. I think Jerry is on to something, but correlation is not causation.

    Christopher Hitchens once observed that if you feed & house a dog it thinks you are God, but if you feed & house a cat, it thinks that IT is God.

  35. Doug
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Like Darwin, I am a dog person, even though I live in the cat-friendly state of Connecticut. I suspect one reason that mutts are so popular in the South is that they are used for hunting.

    • Doug
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      I have no opinion on footwear.

  36. Kevin Alexander
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    A dog will lay on your grave until it starves.
    A cat won’t come to your funeral until it checks out the noms.

  37. MikeW
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    One thing that people miss is that cats just plain live longer. I just had to have my two dogs put down recently while my three cats are still going strong. I have had a cat live past 20 but never had a dog live past 16.

  38. Posted July 29, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I just finished your book. Very nice. I rank it in my top 3 evolution books. I’ve watched several of your talks/debates on youtube and follow your blog and twitter feed. I appreciate your voice against ignorance and religion. Besides not being impressed with your opinion on dogs, I have one other ‘issue.’ Where I live (Montana), cowboy boots are the ambulatory emblem of all that is bad: religion, right wing nut jobs, tea partiers, anti-environmentalism, ignorance, diesel trucks and black smoke, coors light, date rape, cowboy hats, racism, texas, and xenophobia. I’m not sure that I want cowboy boots to represent my definition of atheism and free thought. Maybe moon boots would be better.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Doc Martens boots…

      • Chris
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink

        Make sure that you make correct choices with colour, # of holes, and colour of laces though!

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Yup. Of course Birkenstocks are synonymous with pot-smoking liberal grateful dead fans, which isn’t entirely true, but the same ‘argument’ could be made. I just happen to feel, and my observations generally hold true, that cowboy boots–awkward and unpractical as they are–are worn in a deliberate way to express most of the ideas/attitudes that I mentioned in my previous post. Cowboy boots are deliberate, while Birkenstocks and flip-flops are flippant.

    • Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Cowboy boots are a regional apparel item, and only correlated but not connected with right wing attitudes. Don’t forget that they’re also worn by a lot of people who lack those attitudes. I once remember an episode of A Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where the gay fashion maven recommended five itsems for the well-dressed straight guy’s wardrobe. I remember only two: cowboy boots and a cashmere sweater (I own both, and over a hundred of the former).

      Steve Pinker wears cowboy boots, as do many rock stars and other non-right-wingers. John Kerry has a custom pair that has his electric guitar tooled onto them.

      p.s. Cowboy boots are neither impractical or uncomfortable, and I ought to know. If they fit properly, they’re plenty comfortable, and I doubt people wear them to express political attitudes so much as geographical identity. At any rate, I’d appreciate it if you just stop dissing them here, since you seem to know very little about them.

      • Posted July 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Sorry. I will refrain in the future.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      Psst, cmac–have you read da roolz?

      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/da-roolz/

  39. Derek
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    And for those who like both, there’s this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uaYwXMmYPYs

  40. Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    The prevalence of dogs in South America is due to the fact that they are very nasty to strangers. A cheap burglar alarm and security force. Everybody has guard dogs here.

  41. Hempenstein
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I met a couple women last weekend on a very interesting documentary mission that turned out to be of great mutual interest, only because of the friendly Blue Tick Coonhound that one had on a leash. I thought at the time that this would not have happened if there’d been a cat on the other end of the leash because a) cats don’t do leashes, b) I wouldn’t have paid any attention to such a cat, and/or c) had they been cat people with no cat/no leash, we would’ve been ships in the night.

    • Matt G
      Posted July 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I adopted a cat in rural Ohio and brought him to Brooklyn when I finished college. He hated it. I would take him for walks in Prospect Park with a cross-the-chest harness and a 12 foot long piece of string (he didn’t like to be caught…). One time he went up a tree and the string got caught in the bark on his way down. Luckily he was swinging close enough to the ground that I could reach him. He was so miserable in the city that I finally gave him to my grandmother who lived in the country. He was much happier there.

    • Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Baihu does leashes and walks in the park. We’ve hardly been out in the past month or so because the overnight lows have been near 90…but this weekend it looks like some thunderstorms are going to roll in and daytime highs might hover right around 100. If so, we’ll probably hit the trail….

      b&

  42. Joe
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    There is a great book about dog evolution, “Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior & Evolution”, by Ray and Lorna Coppinger. They went out and studied village dogs, among others. One village was the Tiajuana dump (sadly a real sort of village for both people and dogs); this was featured in a NOVA episode. Another was in islands off Africa, Cape Verde, I think. Muslim culture, quite poor and isolated (little influx of new dogs). They feared they would find few dogs, but there were plenty. Men clearly had their pets that they fed, though they wouldn’t admit it; the dogs did not have names. But then they made the most amazing discovery. They had hunting clubs! Just like the English, without the horns and little red jackets. And horses. They would run their dogs, groups of men and dogs, all socializing and having a great time whether they killed anything or not. (Their prey was a animal the farmers considered a pest and paid a small bounty on).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Interesting – I’ve put that on my “to read” list.

  43. cnocspeireag
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Has no one pointed out that no human household ‘owns’ a cat?
    Cats are much more self sufficient when the home is empty during the working day, needing only noms, water and a cat flap (or litter tray). Modern working hours and commuting time often mean no humans in the house for twelve hours at a time. Dogs left so long would be likely to be miserable and so destructive, noisy and a nuisance to the neighbours.
    I now live in more a rural setting and my wife has cat developed allergies, so we’re one of the outliers on your scale as a godless household with six dogs and no longer any cats.

  44. ladyatheist
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    I think higher numbers of apartment dwellers in the Northern states may explain more cat ownership. A lot of landlords & condos don’t allow dogs but they allow cats.

  45. Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I worked with a woman who had 42 cats. A buddy had 30 or so in his feral colony and I recently helped him get two of the remaining kitties into a vet and then adoption. The colony is down to 4 adults and two kittens ATM – plus the 1/2 dozen indoor cats. That alone explains Canukistan.

    For alurophilic fashionistas

    • Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      You wanna correct your miscalculation over at the other site, and admit you screwed up in your haste to exculpate Hamas?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Feral colonies of cats can be tragic. I family friend had to have many cats destroyed that were feral at his farm because they all got rabies and various other diseases. One cat attacked his wife and she ended up getting rabies shots. I’m glad the colony you mentioned had a happier outcome.

  46. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted July 30, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    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).

    I think there is a confound with authoritarianism, as in parenting strategies. “Authoritarian parenting, also called strict parenting,[18] is characterized by high expectations of conformity and compliance to parental rules and directions, while allowing little open dialogue between parent and child.” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parenting_practices#Authoritarian_parenting ]

    I hear that when religious people ask “what would [my magical agency] do” brain scans show they activate the brain centers that they use when doing moral choices themselves. E.g. the magical agency steps in as an (unyielding) authority.

    D*gs are looking up for authoritarian rather than authoritative guidance as cats (water spray as “stay away”, say.).


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