Showing posts with label survey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label survey. Show all posts

Sunday 19 May 2024

Assessing cat personalities through owner questionnaires

In my view, it's not possible to gather accurate information about the personalities of different cat breeds by surveying their caregivers. This is due to the subjective nature of owners, who, in my honest opinion, may not possess the objectivity necessary to make a personality assessment meaningful. Moreover, personality assessment itself is inherently imprecise, especially when applied to domestic cats.

Assessing cat personalities through owner questionnaires
Scottish Fold owner filling out questionnaire on the personality of their cat. Image: MikeB

There are two imprecise processes at play: an evaluation by an owner who is biased due to their strong attachment to their cat, and the ambiguous task of assessing personalities, which tends to yield unreliable information. This is the case with the Burns Pet Nutrition survey, as reported by the Daily Mail online.

They say that the Burns Pet Nutrition survey has revealed that the Scottish Fold has been named as the top cat by the British. The survey participants said that they were most intelligent cat breed (75%) and the most affectionate (67%). 

Taylor Swift and other celebs have promoted this cat. That too has had an influence on responses to the questionnaire.

Of course, at this stage I've got to mention the fact that the Scottish shouldn't be a cat breed at all because it is inherently unhealthy due to the genetic mutation which it carries causing the cartilage of the cat to be malformed which results in the flat ears and potentially defective cartilage throughout the body. 

Breeders of the Scottish have to be incredibly careful and they can't breed Scottish Fold with Scottish Fold because if they do the result in offspring are unviable.

This is why there are many "Scottish Straights". These are Scottish Fold cats without the folded ears because half the cats that the breeders produce don't have folded ears because of the above-mentioned breeding requirements. I don't think enough people realise this.

And I don't think enough Scottish Fold owners realise that this is a very contentious cat breed which in Germany would be banned because of their torture breeding laws.

Anyway, to return to this survey. "A whopping 92% of cat owners found them [the Scottish Fold] the easiest to train compared to other breeds."

I find this last point extraordinary. How many people train their cats in the first place? Very few. I think what this means is that Scottish Fold owners found that their cat companion picked up routines and habits through informal training which happens in every cat owning home. I think this is a very subjective finding.

The survey also found that over half of British cat owners rated Ragdolls as the most affectionate ahead of Maine Coons at 46%. And in terms of personality more than 50% of Brits said that Ragdolls had the biggest personalities 46% choosing Maine Coons and 41% preferring Bengals.

There were over 2000 participants who also said that the calico cat is easiest to train with 80% of owners reporting that they responded best to instructions. The calico cat is a tortoiseshell-and-white cat and nearly always female. Once again I think this is a subjective assessment which should not be taken seriously.

Apologies for the negativity, but I am aiming for realism. If you consult scientists conducting thorough surveys on feline behaviour using questionnaires, they will agree that the results are often dubious. It seems to depend on how the questionnaire is drafted and if it allows for crosschecking and weeding out inaccurate responses. There might be some merit to that, but generally, questionnaire surveys of cat owners, such as this one, ought to be regarded with skepticism.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Almost 50% of cats and dogs have their own dedicated room

Almost 50% of cats and dogs have their own dedicated room
Cat caregiver enjoying the company of their cat. Image believed to be in the public domain.

A survey commissioned by Homesense, part of the TK Maxx family in the UK, found the following facts about cat and dog ownership which may interest people:
  • 48% of cat and dog owners allocate a certain space in their home, a dedicated room often or a space in the garden for their pets.
  • Just over half, 55%, wanted their cats and dogs to have their own area where they can chill out.
  • 34% of the respondents of which there were 2000, wanted to ensure maximum comfort for their companion animal.
  • 30% wanted all their possessions kept in one place. By this I mean cat and dog products of various sorts.
  • 80% of the respondents dedicated a certain space in their home so that their companion animal's things and toys et cetera don't take up space in the rest of the home.
  • 46% of respondents designed a home around their cat or dog.
  • 21% admitted they were unlikely to buy items just to please their companion animal if those items didn't match with the interior of their home.
The study was in partnership with Kelly Brook to launch a pet an interiors content series “Barkitectural Digest”.

Kelly Brook said that certain parts of our home are designed around her dog, Teddy. Through the study she found that she was not the only one. She is pleased to help others.

The top changes made to dog and cat caregivers' homes included moving delicate things higher up (29% of the respondents) and adding a cat flap (in 21% of the respondents) and installing a garden fence (20%). Also:
  • 16% of the respondents replaced carpets with hard floors.
  • 11% bought scratch-proof furniture.
  • 9% chose dark furnishings to disguise cat and dog fur.
  • 17% installed baby gates to stop wondering cats and dogs.
  • 19% used blankets to cover up damage to furniture and household items.
  • 75% of respondents struggled to find pet products that were of good enough quality and reasonably priced.
The research was carried out by OnePoll.
  • They also found that 41% of the respondents had discovered that owning a companion animal is more expensive than expected. The cost of food and insurers being the expenses that surprised them the most.
  • 15% claimed that they spent more on their cat or dog than they do on their children. The same percentage said that they spent more on their cat and dog than their car or holidays.
  • The average cat and dog owner spent £708 annually.
  • 59% said that they compromised on buying pet products because of the expense.
P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Many couples who adopt a cat or dog do so as a starter child

I've just read a survey which I think was conducted in America which contains one startling piece of information namely that 40% of American cat and dog owners adopted their companion animal as a kind of 'starter child' to see whether they were able to cope and do a good job. It's a kind of test in preparation for the real thing. That's my interpretation.

And it's a bit worrying, I think, because it means on a strict interpretation of that statistic (acquired by the poll company OnePoll) that 40% of Americans are adopting cats and dogs for the wrong reason! Or am I being too tough.

Perhaps it's a kind of two-stage process. They decide that they will get married and then they decide to have children but are not completely sure about it so they tell each other let's adopt a cat or dog first and we will gradually build up to producing a child. That's my take on this. And of course they keep the cat or dog once they have created their offspring or at least I hope they do.

In respect of cats there is actually a probably significant number of women who decide to get rid of the family cat at the time they have a child because they believe that they might acquire toxoplasmosis from their cat which can dramatically affect their pregnancy. 

There is this genuine problem with toxoplasmosis which as you know is a zoonotic disease which can be transferred from the cat via oocysts in the cat's faeces which are only present for a short period of time in their entire lives to the human. The cat is a vector for this zoonosis.

Pregnant women can deal with this problem with common sense strategies such as getting someone else to clean up the cat litter tray but the fear is there. And it must be added that unwashed vegetables and undercooked meats are far more dangerous in acquiring toxoplasmosis that the family cat.

Anyway, I am digressing. The point is that the domestic cat or dog can be a starter child.

I've touched on the issue of cat and dog poop above and unsurprisingly almost half of the respondents, of which there were 2000, in this survey said that they had little panic attacks about their pet's bowel movements. And a similar percentage (47%) were concerned that their dog or cat were eating normally and that their pet's poop was of a good consistency.

The survey produced the general finding that, nowadays, there is a great desire to treat the family's companion animal, usually cats or dogs, as true members of that family and in doing this people tend to anthropomorphise i.e. humanise their pet. This is lovely in one way because it means the animal gets a lot of great treatment but slightly problematic in another way in that they might expect something from their pet which they can't deliver.

Sometimes, in a modification of that expectation management problem, people regard their cat as a dog and once again there may be expectation problems. It's important for people to respect a cat as a cat and a dog is a dog and understand their natural behaviours which will lead to great communication and an environment in which both cat and dog can thrive.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 23 October 2023

People care less about their cats than they do about their dogs

If, like me, you are a cat lover and caregiver, it is rather depressing to think that, in general, cat owners care less for their cats than dog owners care for their dogs but the difference depends on cultural attitudes which in turn depends on the country where you live.

To be honest, I've known this for a long time. Many years ago, I looked up what American citizens spent on veterinary services on their cats and dogs. I went to the AVMA website and in quite a shocking revelation, I noticed that dog owners spend a lot more on their dogs then cat owners spent on their cats in terms of veterinary care. This showed a marked difference in emotional connection between people and their pets as this had little to do with disposable income. Although money is no doubt a factor.

And now we have a quite profound study, an important study, published online which compares cat owners and dog owners and their emotional connection with their companion animals.

In essence, they concluded that cat owners really do care less about their cats than dog owners care about their dogs. Although there is a cultural difference depending upon where you live. In this survey they looked at cat and dog owners living in Britain, Denmark and Austria.

They used for different methods of measuring cat and dog owners' concern about caring for their companion animals:

  1. The Lexington attachment to pets scale (LAPS). This is a well-known test for measuring the emotional connection between owners and their pets.
  2. Whether owners had taken out a pet health insurance policy.
  3. How willing were owners to pay for life-saving treatment?
  4. And the expectation of owners as to veterinary diagnostic and treatment options.

The difference between dog and cat owners was greatest in Denmark. Austria was in the middle in terms of treating cats and dogs differently and there was the least difference between dog and cat owners' attitude towards caring for their pets in the UK.

More dogs and cats were insured in all three countries but there was the least difference in the UK in this respect. The difference was much greater in Denmark.

In terms of expensive life-saving treatment, more dog owners than cat owners were willing to spend over a certain amount in all three countries. However, the difference was most pronounced in Denmark compared to the United Kingdom. The researchers felt that this criteria revealed a clear difference in concern for the welfare of cats and dogs.

In Denmark and Austria, dog owners expected more veterinary treatment options to be available than cat owners. But the difference was not noticeable in this respect in the UK.

The researchers concluded that in all three countries, "people care more about their dogs than their cats but with a clear cross-country variation and a very modest difference in the United Kingdom. Therefore, it does not seem to be a universal phenomenon that people care much less about their cats than their dogs.".

What they're saying there is that there is a clear difference between how people care for their dogs compared to their cats; the former getting better treatment than the latter but this difference in caregiving depends upon cultural attitudes in different countries and in Denmark there was the greatest difference whereas in the UK there was the smallest difference.

My personal opinion as to why people care for dogs better than they do cats is because the dog is a pack animal and they look to their owner as the alpha leader for guidance. This helps to generate a better connection between owner and companion animal. And with that better connection on an emotional level the person is more likely to spend more money on their pet because the emotional bond can be greater.

Conversely, the domestic cat is seen as independent which by the way is a misguided myth in large part, and therefore there is less of a close connection in many homes between owner and cat. This leads to the belief that the domestic cat can be left alone to live their lives and come into the life of their owner as and when they need to. This automatically leads to less caregiving and therefore less expenditure in terms of veterinary care.

There are misconceptions about both dogs and cats. For example, the media: books, movies and advertisements and online adverts et cetera can stereotype the dog as being loyal, affectionate and in need of care and attention. They are a "man's best friend". Conversely, cats are sometimes depicted as aloof, independent or less in need of human companionship. This may portray the concept that they require less care.

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