According to a survey by scientists in Bristol, published in the Veterinary Record and reported in the Daily Torygraph, people with cats are more likely to have had a university education than those who keep a dog. Despite all the caveats about correlation not being equivalent to causation, the Torygraph speculates on the reasons for the differential – it’s all to do with lifestyle. Dogs are more dependent on humans than cats, so cats are more suitable for people with busier lifestyles and long commutes than those who stay at home more – and it’s these busy, busy people who are busy because they have the higher-paying gigs that an education gets you.
Yes, maybe. But a tank full of fish takes even less maintenance than a cat. Not to mention hamsters, snakes, axolotls and even tortoises (by the way, my friendly pet-shop owner told me today, as he sold me frozen mice for the snake, that he’d heard of a lady who’d paid £600 in vet bills to treat a tortoise with a collapsed lung) . And for a totally maintenance-free (and cost-free) pet, there’s always pet rocks.
This research result set me thinking. What sort of controls did they have? Was the result boosted by the inclusion of those of the lower orders who keep fierce dogs as trophies, mastiffs with names such as ‘Asbo’ or ‘Semtex’? How was the result correlated to residence, given (I suspect) that a preference for cats might be dictated by whether the owner lives in a flat rather than a house, or the availability of outside space? And what about people who keep both cats and dogs? I think I shall have to go look at the original research (which indeed promises answers to such questions) and report back. But I have to take the dog for a walk first.