December 9, 2013

Queers are dog lovers -- What does it tell us about dog people?

Continuing the approach from yesterday's post about how to distill the essential differences between dog and cat people, we want to find a group that is so uniformly pro-dog or pro-cat, and that differs in only one crucial way from the comparison group.

If you live in a city, you probably have a hunch that homosexuals prefer dogs to cats. You see them out walking them all the time -- and not just Pomeranians that look and act gay themselves, but larger and less flamingly obvious ones too. A quick check of a question at Yahoo Answers provides several confirming answers from gays that they indeed far prefer dogs over cats.

Googling around turned up an excerpt from a queer lit novel Men Who Love Men (2008), which contains this pop sociology discussion, both establishing that gay men are feline-phobic and throwing out explanations as to why:

"I love cats," Luke repeats. "You know, it's hard in gay culture to come out as a cat-lover." ...

"It's like it's just not cool for a gay man to be into cats -- the way lesbians are, anyway, or the way most gay guys are into their dogs."

Jeff is starting to smile. "Well you know the faggot-canine connection is a long and honorable one. You see it on every street in every gay ghetto." ...

"Well," Jeff says, "it's easier to chat up a hunky blonde walking down Commercial Street if he's got a golden retriever with him." ...

"I know!" Luke says. "But when you ask gay men if they like cats, they invariably look at you a little funny, as if you'd just asked them if they liked drinks with little parasols in them or the music of Holly Near." ...

"Cats are considered girly," Luke continues. "Dogs are manly -- except poodles, but they don't count." ...

"You know," Luke says, ignoring me, "maybe that's why so many gay men claim to be allergic to cats."

"Have you noticed that, too?" Jeff asks. "There's got to be a correlation. None of my straight friends -- or my lesbian friends -- are allergic to cats. But gay men start sniveling as soon as you tell them there's a cat in the house." ...

"To me," Jeff says, "cats should be the gay men's pet of choice... Cats are what we as gay men aspire to be. Cool. Slightly mysterious, completely autonomous, perfectly groomed."

"So why hasn't it happened?" I ask. ...

"You see, buddy, cats are tops, and most gay men are loath to advertise their bottomness walking down the street. With a dog, they can pretend to be master. But just let some faggot try to saddle up a cat and take him out for a trot. He'll quickly learn you can't use a cat to get the double takes or the chance to score."

NB: among each other, gays admit they are not cool, mysterious, and autonomous, but lame, obvious, and dependent.

Their kneejerk equation of cats with girliness, when cat ownership is about equal among men and women, is one of a broader set of perceptions of anything that shows a sex difference as girly and therefore disgusting (because in the gay Peter Pan mind, girls = cooties). Others include cologne, jewelry, and medium-length or long hair. Although they rationalize their revulsion as "ewww, girly," these things are part of the rite of passage of both males and females out of childhood and into puberty and adolescence. So, what they are truly repulsed by are things that signal the end of childhood and the beginning of courtship and mating -- with the opposite sex, naturally.

Does playing with cats fit in with that pattern? It sure does. Cats generally don't like small children. Yeah, occasionally they'll cuddle up with a baby, but usually they either tolerate the kid or try to avoid it. At such an immature age, the child doesn't know how to interact with a cat, which is not a babyish animal like the typical doggie. If he pets the cat too hard, the cat will get angry. If he pulls at his tail, the cat will get angry. He has to grow up and learn how to interact more subtly with other people and creatures before the cat will accept him.

My family and a number of my friends had cats growing up, but I don't remember them taking a liking to me until I was in middle school. Cats were like another set of grown-ups in the house -- cute ones, but cranky and strict about how to treat them. It was the same with my friends' cats, when not until 6th grade did I manage to earn the trust of one of them. Now I can befriend them on the street, where as a kid I certainly would have frightened them away.

Cats must be able to sense how infantilized faggots are -- it's not that hard -- and steer clear of them. "Oh god it's like a toddler, only bigger -- RUN!" Stinging from what they see as unfair rejection, gays then grow to distrust or hate cats. On the other hand, most all dog breeds show such indiscriminate affection toward people that gays don't have to worry about being rejected. The juvenile mind cannot tolerate conditional affection, such as those that characterize adolescent and adult relationships. It has to be unconditional, like a parent shows their baby.

Dogs are perfect at providing that, while cats treat you more like an equal friend, where one of you might not be in the mood to socialize when the other wants to, and that it's not the end of the world -- you'll simply try again later, and not blame them or hold a grudge in the meantime.

Gays also have their own special brand of autism, which follows directly from their psychological stunting. They just don't get what makes other people tick, especially people not exactly like them. They don't get straight guys, and they don't get straight women either. They project so clumsily from their own warped ways onto normal people, and are always oblivious to how wacko they sound in doing so.*

Googling and browsing around some autism support sites confirmed my hunch that cats do not make good pets for children with autism, not only because the cat is less tolerant of not-yet-mature creatures, but also because the autistic child often does not know how hard he's petting the cat, might throw it in frustration, and so on. Dogs were always said to make better pets for autistic children.

Both of these results tie back in to what I laid out in the first post, that one of the strongest differences between cat and dog people is that cat people are more empathetic and dog people more interested in things. Empathy and back-and-forth relationships among equals takes awhile to grow, so that suggests a related difference -- that cat people tend to be more emotionally savvy and developed. Dog people seem to have more difficulty reading another being's emotional state and interacting accordingly, although normal grown-up dog lovers don't behave bitterly and vindictively like the queer cat-haters do when they and the pet come to an impasse.

Projecting your own mindset onto the animal, rather than respecting its differences at a species and individual level, is part of what leads to the use of pets as status symbols, as outlined in the first post. (You also need a fashion-striving mindset, but of course homosexuals do.) A dog doesn't care about doing yoga, and doesn't understand what the writing on his doggie sweater says. But don't let that stop the owner from parading them around in this stuff. They need a servile animal to pull this off, and dogs are the ideal. Queers could definitely not dress up cats in rainbow-colored gay pride shirts like this:

Shameful, oblivious, patronizing, cruel... but in the dog owner's mind, if the pets themselves don't protest, they must be fine with it. That's the consequentialist view typical of liberals and rationalizers. The deontological view shared by cat people is that humiliation and exploitation is wrong no matter if the pet realizes or pipes up about how demeaning it is or not. You should respect the pet's dignity and honor, and not go there.

One time for yuks? Maybe you can bend the rules once in awhile, but not as the default. It'd be like sending your kid off to school with a gag scrawled in marker on his face, that he can't read himself. It's demeaning. As a rare practical joke, it's fine, but not every week or every day.

The consequentialist vs. deontological morality points to the final difference I noted before -- that cat people feel very strongly about respecting taboos, keeping pure what ought to be kept pure, and preserving the sacred. Gay dog lovers provide some of the most vivid evidence of what little regard they have for the most basic human taboos, such as against inter-species mating. I'll only subject you to one of a creepily huge number of gays in leather dog mask costumes, with or without a leash, with or without an owner/master, and with or without a fuller dog suit (including hooves that cover the hands).

And don't forget this classic nightmare scene of decadence from the end of The Shining.

Why did they pick a dog/bear suit? Their intuition must have told them that truly depraved people don't dress up in cat suits, which is more for the garden variety sorority chick who wants maximum attention on Halloween without actually having to put out. That's one "Sexy ____" costume you don't see on Halloween -- Sexy Puppy. It would give off too much of a master-and-servant vibe, and everyone would be thinking, "That girl just ain't right."

I know there are those cat furry people out there, but I didn't find them searching Google Images for pictures of gays in weirdo animal outfits at the parades. It was almost entirely dogs (horseheaded men was another).

While gays are not the typical dog lover, they appear to be an extreme caricature of some central dog lovers' traits, and their case makes it easier to see what would otherwise require subtler examination. Dog lovers are less empathetic, more status or fashion-striving, and more permissive about violating taboos.

* For example, one time a group of girl dancers sat down at a table next to mine in Starbucks, and they had a gay bff with them. The girls began sharing stories about how their housemates had awkwardly walked in on them when they were making out or getting it on with their boyfriend. The queer immediately chimes in, as though his story is exactly like theirs, only his experience with it. Instead he goes through a lengthy description of some dude lying naked on the bed while he hunts around for some lube in the bathroom but can't find any, so he improvises with something I have blocked out of memory. Turns out this stuff burns the bottom's bottom like crazy, and the pair begin freaking out like the Two Stooges about how to put out the fire. Then.... complete silence from the girls, while he laughs along at the conclusion of his own story, totally unaware of how sick and from-another-world that kind of "awkward sex experience" is, how totally unlike what all of them had just shared.


  1. Personally, my family's always been big fans of cats, and tend to have a view of dogs as high maintenance, retarded and invasive, and I couldn't imagine wanting to have a dog.

    What do you think of mass trait comparisons of dog and cat owners? -

    Very large samples here.

    As a group, the cat owners tended to be the most neurotic, introverted, disagreeable, lacking in conscientiousness. Open mindedness, the liberal personality quality, did not hugely differ but seems higher in cat folk.

    People who own both cats and dogs seem to have the most superior personalities, rather than being intermediate, which is true in my life experience.


    "The general pattern that comes out of both studies is that dog owners are more social, interactive and accepting and cat owners (who own cats exclusively) are more introverted, self-contained and less sociable."

    I'm guessing your perspective here would be that the Big 5 is a weaker description of personality than inferred shopping at Urban Outfitters vs American Apparel?

    East Asian folk seem to have a stronger preference for cats against dogs, compared to Europeans. Other groups do not seem to like animals enough for me to distinguish a difference.

  2. Lack of disgust reflex might also be associated with dog owners. Afterall, they have to follow the dog around picking up mushy feces. Maybe I'm reaching here, though.

    Cats, on the other hand, were originally domesticated to kill rodents and insects. So cultures where cats were kept as pets, and cat-owners in general, may be more concerned with cleanliness. Whereas dog-owners are more willing to tolerate the pests.


  3. (Owning a cat will clear your house and backyard of all rats, mice, and insects, or so I've been told.)

    Now that I think about it, cats may have been first domesticated to prevent disease, since they easily kill off the rats and bugs which spread disease.


  4. "I'm guessing your perspective here would be that the Big 5 is a weaker description of personality"

    Not personality at a basic level, it's good for that. But look at the chart in that first link -- as usual, basic personality differences across normal groups of people are very small.

    What I'm talking about is higher-level personality traits and related behavior -- empathizing vs. systemizing, and status-striving.

    The moral dimension of sacred / taboo / purity / disgust is not a personality trait, but is no less important of a psychological trait that influences behavior (a la Jonathan Haidt's work comparing the moral psychology of liberals vs. conservatives).

    East Asian cat fanciers only include the Japanese. Most of the rest of the region eats cat meat, although they also eat dog meat. They're not really animal-lovers at all and treat them like beasts of burden, typical of intensive agriculturalists.

  5. "Lack of disgust reflex might also be associated with dog owners."

    Right, that goes along with their blunted response toward purity and taboo. They don't even feel disgusted by cats -- more like annoyed and unimpressed.

    Cat people are more likely to feel disgust when around dogs, and get morally disgusted when they see dog people humiliating their pets. Dogs are ritually unclean in Islam, whereas cat-haters don't go that far in bad-mouthing cats.

    Dogs smell way worse than cats: their body odor, breath, farts, and shit. They sneeze and slobber more, and don't bathe themselves when they get dirty. They even eat shit, part of their infantilization. And they're not very mindful of where they drop their own shit. Having to walk a dog just so it can excrete is more high-maintenance than changing a toddler's diapers.

    The heightened sense of disgust among cat people could tie in to what you said about them being selected for hunting disease vectors like rats and bugs. They would more highly value that kind of companion.

  6. Googling the entire phrase:

    "Why are cats so disgusting" -- 10 hits

    "Why are dogs so disgusting" -- 1,760

  7. I think the infantilization of dogs plays a big role in whether you like them or not, too, though I don't know whether that's a separate difference or stems from one of the three main ones so far.

    Cats are more autonomous and mature. Cat people don't want to deal with a creature that is permanently dependent like a toddler -- smelling, slobbering, and squealing like one all the time, too.

    Cat people like kittens, but want to see them grow up and knock off the constant crying and rambunctiousness.

    Dog people seem to resent how self-sufficient the cat is -- like, what kind of pet is that, if it doesn't need a lifelong caretaker?

    Whereas cat people view the permanent juvenile state of dogs as a damning character flaw, making them the objects of pity, and directing righteous anger toward the dog culture that has produced permanently stunted freaks of nature.

    And as you'd expect, cat people don't mind the more wolf-like dogs, which their owners describe as almost cat-like. Mature, autonomous, quiet, graceful, aggressive, not surrendering full control to the owner's family, and not showing indiscriminate effusive affection toward others.

  8. Looking down on the dog's infantilization probably stems from the cat person's disgust reflex -- a permanently stunted animal is an abomination of nature.

  9. I like going on walks with my dog.

  10. One thing I've read about in books on dogs is that people sometimes choose a dog based on its appearance, that they don't realize that appearance is linked with temperament, and that they come to regret their decision if the dog's temperament doesn't suit their lifestyle.

  11. I like how my dog makes eye contact. I also love the way she greets me when I come home. And I like how she makes it a point to sit in the same room. Plus the watchdog ability.

    I'm not sure what this says about me as a person. I've never been a fag-hag. Promise.

  12. I'm sorry for the disjointed comments. I love petting a sweet-tempered animal.

  13. Cats tended to be revered by the royalty of many cultures. No mistake that many European aristocratic houses used lions on ther emblems.

    Cats were worshipped by Egyptian royalty also.

    What dog breeds would you consider to be more mature and autonomous? Didn't many pastoralist cultures, for instance, use dogs as herders?


  14. I read part of Vikram Seth's Golden Gate, which is pretty bad. In the book, this San Francisco gay has an iguana for a pet. I think he takes it out for walks too.

    Vikram Seth is gay.

  15. The only two I know are both cat people -- but they're also not very "flaming."

  16. You have the same pet preference as crazy spinsters and you're trying to rationalize it somehow.

    Methinks agnostic doth protest too much.

  17. "Cat owners don't mind the more wolflike dogs which their owners describe as almost cat like"

    An odd claim, cat owners always say their cat "acts like a dog"when trying to qualify it to you, you never hear the reverse out of a dog owner.

  18. Got to agree with anonymous.

    Agnostic - this looks like a transparent effort to provide a moral and cultural legitimacy to your own preference for cats.

  19. No, I've been a cat person since I was a child. I only recently looked into the differences because of an article I read comparing the degradation of dog breeds over time, and it got me angry enough to look into why that happened with dogs but not with cats. Namely, what differences there are between cat people and dog people.

  20. Agnostic, good point about breed degredation, but I'd be careful about assuming the two populations have anything like the same standard deviation of traits.

    The pool of dog owners is large enough that there could easily be a subset who buy that American Apparel stuff, as large as the entire cat market. Dog preference is about 5-6 times as common as cat preference.

  21. I haven't seen too much sociological data that reliably distinguishes 'dog people' from 'cat people', although I'm sure there are some relatively modest correlations.

    Back in 1991 the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study surveyed pet ownership among 1,872 gay and bisexual men. 48% owned at least one animal. 17.4% owned a dog, and 21.8% owned a cat. I'd have to search around for pet stats from 91, but dog ownership is more common in the general population.

  22. That 1991 study may be out of date, if gays have let their true selves come out in the past 20 years. Looking through pictures of celebrities and their cats, I noticed some closeted gay men with cats who were big in the '70s and '80s, but none from the '90s or 2000s.

  23. "but I'd be careful about assuming the two populations have anything like the same standard deviation of traits."

    If it's a difference in variance, then there ought to be a greater fraction of dog owners, compared to cat owners, who are at the opposite extreme from the shameful ones.

    I don't see that, though. The non-weirdo dog people are more in the middle, where they think the humiliation and babying of dogs is wrong or embarrassing, but don't get worked up over it.

    Same with disgust -- if that were a matter of variance, there ought to be a larger portion of dog owners who have a heightened disgust sense. They would treat their dogs the way a typical cat person would. Again, I don't see that. They might not let the dog slobber all over their face, but they don't view dogs with disgust.

    So the simplest explanation for why dog people are over-represented at the extreme of humiliating and babying their pets, using them for status contests, and feeling little disgust, is because the dog-owning distribution lies farther toward that direction, on average, compared to the cat-owning distribution.

  24. Well, I'm not saying no mean difference, just that the distributions for each may be different and/or highly un-normal in a way that makes it less sensible to talk of cat and dog people. Since the fraction of dog people that are like you describe cat people as being may be larger than the number of cat people around. Assuming normality is the simplest hypothesis though.

    Also, on your points about disgust, finding explicit measures of disgust is hard, but there's some stuff on political data on cat and dog owners - - No major differences here - cat owners are 28% Republican, while dog owners are 33% Republican, with the difference driven by the Independent fraction rather than Democratic fraction. No significant wealth or educational differences explaining this difference, in this data. - Dog owners slightly less likely to say they'll vote for Obama rather than McCain, even after controls for many other variables.

  25. One thing that I've noticed is that you can periodically find dog vs. cat preference fights break out in the comments on right-wing blogs. The majority of the commenters are pro-dog and anti-cat. I've wondered if this has something to do with the "meme" that feminists wind up living by themselves and a bunch of cats. In the same sites, this seems to overlap with the tiresome PC vs. Mac argument. Again, rightists dislike Mac's on the whole, seemingly because Mac's are associated with SWPL crowd (as in that Mac vs. PC campaign Apple ran a few years ago).

    FWIW, I remember being struck by somebody pointing out that dogs are actually representative in their behavior of leftist sensibilities (collective behavior, top-down management), while cats are more libertarian (do their own thing, don't defer to the "chief"). Odd that rightists should be so pro-dog.

  26. And yet Stuff White People Like includes dogs, not cats:

    That's what I mean by breaking things down by moral sensibilities, behavior, consumption patterns (vintage vs. progressive), and so on.

    I think the Republican vs. Democrat split on pets is more about the authority dimension than about political or moral worldviews in general. Dogs obey the authority figure, while cats don't submit very easily.

  27. author Christian Lander and his wife are cat people:

    "As we get older and all our friends have kids, we've managed to claw our way up to cat owners. We adopted Malcolm Jenkins from a shelter in April 2011, just after returning from Istanbul, where there are endless cats roaming around the city. We'd been thinking about it for a while and took it as a sign. When we got to the facility, we were playing with another cat, but Malcolm jumped on Christian's back to get attention from him and from me. And we just knew he was the one. He is definitely a ham, and we are super happy to have an affectionate cat."

    Pictures of them as crazy cat people in their new place:

  28. Her story about how their cat chose them, how the cats of Istanbul were "a sign"... it's such a cat person way of seeing things.

    They believe in serendipity and destiny, in paying heed to the larger forces of the cosmos that are trying to coordinate things together behind the scenes, and playing their role in what the supernatural forces wish for them.

    Dog people, on the other hand, behave with such hubris about man's control over nature -- both how effective it would be, and how desirable. (Most clearly seen in their ridiculous breeding projects that have led to freakshow pets.)

    That again tells me that cat people are more conservative in a full sense, and that dog people are more progressive and technocratic. Voting patterns won't reveal these differences.

  29. I'd chalk that difference up to the empathizing vs. systemizing split.

    Empathizing people believe in and respond to quasi-personal forces. A sign, an omen, etc. -- it's a personal being trying to communicate with us. We're part of some supernatural relationship and have to engage in the give and take, including paying heed to "signs."

    People who focus on things are technocratic and interventionist -- engineering-minded. So, actions are good or bad based on how they fit into the engineer's plan, not how they might affect "others" in the grand cosmic web of relationships.

  30. God's rule vs. man's rule.

  31. And yet Stuff White People Like includes dogs, not cats:

    That site's a lot about what distinguishes Whites from Blacks, Whites own more pets and more of those pets tend to be dogs, because dogs are the most popular pet. So they write it up as dogs.

    The mentions of White people in that article are generic - it doesn't link dog ownership up with status conscious hipsterism very much.

    Maybe Christian Lander being a cat person is a good sign of how cat people are "snarky" tools?

  32. If you're interested in systematizing vs empathizing, it might be worth checking out survey data with dog and cat ownership which also includes data about occupation - scientists, engineers, and people who work in caring professions. The cat owners should be over represented among the "caring" groups and underrepresented among the mechanical groups, if that's a main salient difference. Maybe check out nurses or teachers and cat ownership for instance, and see if they're more likely to own a cat?

    There also might be some stuff relating to psychopathy scales and dangerous dogs - e.g where a group of non-dangerous dogs are included and it doesn't look as if there is a difference between at least non-dangerous dogs and non-dog owners in terms of psychopathic traits.

    Cat owners should also have higher levels of religiosity, right?

  33. One problem with the 'dog people' vs 'cat people' taxonomy is that these are very similar kinds of pets, so people often own both or otherwise have a similar preference. You would expect bigger differences between the people who keep dogs/cats and people with less common kinds of pets (reptiles, birds, rabbits, etc.), or especially between the kinds of people who keep pets and the large number of people who don't keep pets.

    It's also not a bad idea from a 'gay germ' perspective to look into what kinds of animals, if any, homosexuals and their parents were differentially exposed to.

  34. "That site's a lot about what distinguishes Whites from Blacks"

    Don't be a tool, the whole site is about the status games that hipsters and wealthy Blue Staters play against each other.


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