What Does Your Pet Say About Your Personality?

Pets are popular with families, students, couples, and singles alike. More than half of Americans own a companion, whether that’s with fur, feathers, or scales. Many consider their pets as a part of the family—just think—pet car window decals are more popular than ever! The reasons behind owning a pet range from an exercise buddy (especially with dogs) to reduced stress.

Egyptians owned cats to fend off evil spirits and connect closer to the sun gods—hence the proliferation of sphinx statues in the ~2600-2500 BCE. Around 12,000–14,000 years ago, wolf cubs (a cousin to the modern-day dog) were trained to help with the hunting and gathering process. Historically in Greece, dogs were said to have therapeutic healing powers and helped soothe various ailments at the time.

Time spent with cats is never wasted.

– Sigmund Freud, Austrian Neurologist & Founder of Psychoanalysis

What does your pet say about your personality? Let’s start with an infographic:

To dive further into detail, we’ll break down the nine most common pets shown above and what owning each pet may mean for someone’s personality and character, as well as career paths where they can potentially discover the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment.

Let’s begin with one of the most commonly owned pet around the world, the cat:

Cat

Are the purr-fect felines truly best suited for introverts? Yes. However, there appears to be more to the picture. Why do many writers and artists own cats? Think high neuroticism, openness to experience, and emotional sensitivity. The soft purrs from cats are known to increase oxytocin levels and reduce stress, which makes sense for people with heightened sensitivity.

Popular career choices for cat owners include: medical lab technician, physician, real estate agent, and personal caretaker. All of these occupations involve an intense amount of care and eye for detail—through concrete facts or emotional awareness. Cat owners are also often stylish with a sharp eye for beauty and wholeness.

Dog

Man’s best friend and loyal companion? You bet. Dog owners tend to self-report themselves as highly conscientious, extraverted, and agreeable. They also enjoy team sports and collaborative activities. In terms of wake time, puppy parents are more likely to be early risers and follow highly-structured days.

In terms of political views, breed matters. Generally speaking: a larger, more protective breed points to conservatism, whereas a smaller, more adorable breed points to liberalism. Mutts (i.e. mixed breeds) likely rest closer to the middle of the two viewpoints. Dogs are the most popular pet in the States, hovering around 40% of households that own at least one.

Bird

What better way to be woken up than by a natural, chirpy alarm? Budgies, cockatoos, and parrots have flown into the lives of many upbeat, free-spirited people. Bird owners also consider themselves to be extraverted and caring. The sky’s the limit for this optimistic flock of energetic pet owners!

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

It sings because it has a song.

– Chinese Proverb

Shockingly, bird owners are most likely to be unemployed—however this does not necessarily equal causation. That is, you aren’t unemployed because you own a bird, or vice versa. Interestingly, female bird parents score higher in social dominance. They can find their mojo as a public relations specialist, sales associate, talk show host, video creator, and journalist.

Rabbit

How does a bunny hop into an owner’s heart? Rabbit owners tend to consider themselves as creative, introverted, and a bit moody. A study suggests that bunny lovers score lowest on the Extraversion (E) Big Five scale. They also used adjectives such as scatterbrained and laid-back to describe their personality.

Rabbit owners can find immense joy as a graphic designer, photographer, veterinarian, copywriter—any career where they can express their creativity freely and with plenty of support.

Turtle

Slow and steady wins the race. Like pet, like owner—turtle parents are hardworking, easygoing, and reliable. They use words like reliable and diligent to describe themselves, and have vast amounts of patience through all walks of life. They share some traits with other cold-blooded pet owners (e.g. the snake) such as organizational skills.

Turtle owners also consider themselves rational, and may have more upward mobility in their jobs. They may thrive in a career as an accountant, security guard, carpenter, transcriptionist, dentist, mail carrier, or legal assistant. They can be counted on to show up on time and perform their work with persistence.

Snake

Did anyone say adrenaline junkies? Snake owners see themselves as highly individualistic, and particularly organized. They march to the beat of their own drum and may be inclined to bold fashion statements and political worldviews. Does that mean lower agreeableness? It does mean higher openness to experience.

Words like unpredictable and unconventional fit right up their alley. They also possess eccentric humor, and choose unique (often artistic) career paths. Musicians, artists, actors, film directors professional racers, and designers may be more inclined to choose a scaley friend as their lifelong companion.

Fish

Calm, stable, and trusting. Fish owners work diligently and can embody the phrase, “Just keep swimming.” They also score highest on the happiness scale, and deal with mental health issues more effectively than other pet owners. Naturally, this makes fish owners excellent social workers and mental health counsellors.

That means low neuroticism and stress levels overall. High-five! Fish owners can make excellent teachers, art therapists, developmental psychologists, human resources managers, and occupational therapists. At the top of the fishbowl, these are only suggestions—swim further and find out more.

Hamster

Like cat owners, hamster parents are often noctornal and work towards the quiet hours of the day. They are also the most educated out of the pet owner family—often possessing advanced master’s or doctoral degrees. Do professors and their colleagues own more hamsters, chinchillas, and guinea pigs?

Brainy and sharp, hamster owners may find their jive as a computer programmer, research scientist, data analyst, statistician, and any R&D (research and development) role in an organization. With their intellectual curiosity and work ethic, hamster owners can easily succeed in any role they put their mind and heart to.

Horse

A stable animal and companion. One of the oldest puns in the book—or barn? Horse owners score higher on the conscientious and lower on the agreeableness scales. Since the majority live in rural areas, they also enjoy their personal space and report to be more disciplined—as well as introspective.

Horse owners can be excellent general managers, inventory control specialists, project consultants, and financial controllers. Horse owners often have plenty of space in their backyards and farms to kick-start a small local business with fresh vegetables or fruits (think a farmer’s market or fair).

To Sum Up: What Does Your Pet Say About Your Personality?

Like owner, like pet? It certainly appears to be that way. Pet owners tend to gravitate toward pets that fit their lifestyle and personality. Whether it’s a furry critter, scaley companion, or a low-maintenance feathered buddy. Any career can prove to be a rewarding one for pet owners of all ages—the examples listed above are to be for general reference only.

Next time during a conversation, it can be interesting to ask someone about their pet ownership history and find out a little more about their personality. Maybe there are some dots to connect through the process. Or, perhaps it’ll give a new perspective on certain pets—and which odd pairings can actually get along!

References

Curb, Lisa & Abramson, Charles & Kennison, Shelia & Grice, James. (2013). The Relationship between Personality Match and Pet Satisfaction among Dog Owners. Anthrozoos A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. 26. https://doi.org/10.2752/175303713X13697429463673.

Edelson, J., & Lester, D. (1983). Personality and Pet Ownership: A Preliminary Study. Psychological Reports, 53(3), 990–990. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1983.53.3.990.

Gosling, Samuel & Bonnenburg, Allison. (1998). An Integrative Approach to Personality Research in Anthrozoology: Ratings of Six Species of Pets and their Owners. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. 11. 148-156. https://doi.org/10.2752/089279398787000661.

Gosling, Samuel & Sandy, Carson & Potter, Jeff. (2010). Personalities of Self-Identified “Dog People” and “Cat People”. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. 23. 213-222. https://doi.org/10.2752/175303710X12750451258850.

Kidd, A. H., & Kidds, R. M. (1980). Personality Characteristics and Preferences in Pet Ownership. Psychological Reports, 46(3), 939–949. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1980.46.3.939.

Simring, Karen. (2015). What Your Pet Reveals about You. Scientific American Mind. 26. 33-35. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind0515-33.