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Christians far more likely to own dogs than cats: survey

Three-fourths of U.S, Christians who own pets have dogs instead of cats, a Pew Research Center poll found.

The study revealed less than half of pet-owning believers (43 percent) have cats. Furthermore, 53 percent exclusively own dogs while only 21 percent solely possess cats. About 22 percent own both. Overall, nearly two-thirds of Christians (62 percent) own at least one pet, which is the same percentage as the general American population. Just less than half of pet-owning Christians in the United States said they believe they place the right degree of emphasis on the wellbeing of their pets.

READ: Dogs have personalities that change with age

Veterinarian Nancy Moore explained to “Christianity Today” that the disparity between cats and dogs in Christian households could be due to the fact many believers, especially those actively involved in their churches, don’t have time to invest in animals such as cats that are less adaptable to social interactions outside the home.

“It’s pretty rare, but we do get occasional cats,” said Moore, who serves as the southeast region representative for the Christian Veterinary Mission. “I think that the human wants the cat out [and about], but I don’t know if the cat agrees with the human. Cats aren’t notoriously well known for wanting to go into strange places.”

The authors of the study, sociologists Samuel Perry and Ryan Burge, seemed to agree.

“On the one hand, certain personality types might simultaneously attract some Americans toward religious participation and away from pets, and cats in particular,” they said. “Alternatively, to the extent that pet ownership is a partial substitute for human bonding and interaction, Americans more deeply embedded within a religious community may have less need (or time) for pets generally and specifically, more independent ‘roommate pets,’ like cats.”

Regardless, the Pew Research Center study found that, of the Christians who own pets, many see their four-legged friends as part of the family. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said they see their pets as family members. Forty-nine percent said they consider their pets part of the family, although not equal to family members.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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