Welcome back to our ongoing infographic series, “Between Minds: An Ongoing Taxonomy of Team Dynamics.” As you loyal readers know, over the past few weeks we have been attempting a rigorous deconstruction of the kooky coworkers and eccentric managers in your office. Last week’s entry was “Left Brain vs. Right Brain,” describing different styles of analysis, planning and problem solving.
This week, we’re presenting a less cerebral but no less controversial breakdown: “Cat People vs. Dog People.” To non-pet owners, the distinction between these two camps is slight. Both come to work covered in hair, festoon their cubicles with custom framed pet pics and dump Scruffy and Fuzzball on you when they go on extended vacation. But once you look past these similarities, you’ll find many pet-specific characteristics.
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For many, pets are chosen based primarily on space and lifestyle considerations. Cats are much more amenable to apartments and small spaces, while dogs—especially big dogs—need room to roam. Young professionals living downtown are thus more likely to be cat owners, while families living out in the suburbs are more inclined to own large, playful dogs like golden retrievers or German shepherds.
But there are also clear personality differences between the species that, in turn, attract different types of owners (or guardians, to use a more pet-centric locution).
Both in the wild and at home, cats are solitary creatures most active at dawn and dusk. During the day, cats often seem indifferent to your presence. While cats enjoy playing with their owners or with other cats, their interest is often limited. Cats are aloof creatures who enjoy their personal space and dislike orders. Many will look at you with condescending pity if you command them to “sit” or “lie down.”
“If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man,” Mark Twain famously wrote, “but it would deteriorate the cat.”
Many—but certainly not all—cat owners are predisposed to solitary, intellectual pursuits that require a minimal amount of human interaction. At work, cat owners may prefer closed-door offices and minimal interruptions. Famous cat lovers include Raymond Chandler, Albert Einstein and Sir Winston Churchill.
Dogs, like their wild canine ancestors, are sociable pack animals. Without daily walks, hour-long stick throwing-and-retrieving sessions and ample belly-rubbing, dogs will become surly, morose and prone to dig out your flower bed. Still, there is always a quiet dignity about dogs and an admirable sense of loyalty, which is why they are often referred to as “man’s best friend.”
“The dog is a gentleman,” wrote Twain. “I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”
Many dog owners are social individuals who value time spent amongst their friends and peers. At work, they may prefer open office spaces with plenty of room for interaction and group projects. On the weekend, they may escape the confines of the city for the wild open spaces of the country. Dog people are often described as jocular, engaging and outgoing, and not at all opposed to being scratched behind the ear. Famous dog owners include Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Plant and President John Kennedy.
Do you know any other traits specific to dog or cat owners, respectively? Do those tendencies carry over into the workplace? Do you think cat people and dog people go on different vacations? Would you mind coming by and feeding Rusty and Mr. Whiskers while we’re away in Bermuda?