Cats are a popular pet. As a result, there is a lot of scientific interest in both cats and cat owners. For instance, researchers at Colorado State University conducted a recent study that suggests that male cat owners who are known to be cat owners are going to have a harder time getting a date from women. In short, the researchers showed pictures of two men with a cat and without a cat to hundreds of women. After which, they asked questions about how the women perceived the two men as well as whether the women would be willing to get into a romantic relationship with them. It turned out that the cat made a notable difference. In one case, when the women were presented with a picture of a man without a cat, 38 percent of them said that they would be willing to date him on a casual basis while 37 percent of them said that they would go even further by considering a serious relationship with him.
However, when the women were presented with a picture of the same man with a cat, those same numbers changed to 33 percent for both categories. On top of that, it is interesting to note that the women who said that they would never consider getting into a romantic relationship with the man increased from 9 percent to 14 percent between the two pictures. Meanwhile, seeing the picture of the second man with a cat didn’t produce a significant fall in the percentage of women with a positive opinion of him as a romantic prospect but did produce a significant rise in the percentage of women with a negative opinion of him as a romantic prospect, which suggests that there was a similar effect at work.
What Might Explain This Phenomenon?
It is unclear what caused the women’s difference of opinion between the pictures of the men with and without a cat. After all, a study that uncovers a potential correlation is not a study that seeks to understand whether there is a causal relationship or not. Never mind a study that seeks to understand the exact nature of a causal relationship with an existence that has been made clear. However, that hasn’t stopped the researchers from venturing a guess.
For those who are curious, the researchers have guessed that the effect is caused by the perception of male cat owners in U.S. culture. To be exact, they think that male cat owners are seen as less masculine in said culture, which puts them at a disadvantage when seeking a romantic relationship because previous research has established that women tend to prefer more masculine traits in their romantic partners. This guess is supported by the study’s finding that the women’s self-identification as either a cat person or a dog person had an influence on their opinion of the men, which suggests that cultural attitudes are indeed at work to some extent.
In any case, interested individuals should know that there has been a number of studies conducted about the perception of cat owners as well as other kinds of pet owners. For starters, there does seem to be some real differences between cat owners and dog owners. One excellent example would be how cat owners were more open and more neurotic than dog owners who were more conventional instead. Another excellent example would be how cat owners were more introverted and less agreeable when compared with their canine-loving counterparts. However, it is important to note that these real differences may or may not reflect the stereotypes held up by a particular culture.
Consider the example of the “crazy cat lady,” which is a stereotype that most people in the English-speaking world will have come upon at some point in time. To an extent, this is a more extreme version of the idea that cat owners are either madder, sadder, more anxious, or some combination of those things than other people out there. However, there was a study conducted that suggests that cat owners were no likelier to be those things than other people. Instead, it is darkly amusing to note that the study suggests that everyone has a chance of being miserable, with cat owners not being singled out in this regard.
How Much Faith Should We Put Into This?
Having said that, interested individuals shouldn’t get too stressed out about the study. Simply put, it is one study, meaning that there is a need for more studies to provide support for its conclusions. Until that happens, there is a limit to how much trust interested individuals should put into the whole thing.
Besides that, even if the findings are true, it isn’t exactly the end of the world for male cat owners. Yes, cat ownership was apparently a strike against them when it came to their perception as a potential romantic prospect. However, the effect wasn’t so overwhelmingly negative that it overrode all other considerations. As a result, cat ownership should be considered as just one factor that can affect someone’s chances in this regard, thus putting it in the same company as hundreds and hundreds of other factors. Moreover, it should be mentioned that being a cat person also had an effect on how women perceived male cat owners as potential romantic partners, meaning that this isn’t even as big of a concern as it might seem on initial consideration. After all, one would assume that most cat owners would want someone who shares their fondness for their feline companions, not least because it is the similarities that bind.
Summed up, this is interesting but far from world-shaking in the grand scheme of things. This is particularly true because there is much that interested individuals can do to make themselves more or less appealing as potential romantic partners. As a result, even if cat ownership is seen as a negative for men, it is something that said individuals can overcome so long as they are willing to put in the time and effort needed to do so. For that matter, if they seek out people who share their love of cats, this becomes even less important as an issue.