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Catwoman or Dogman?

The one thing that dogs and cats have in common is that they are both good for your health and the stroking of both animals reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and induces relaxation, says Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Reading a book about human behaviour vis-a-vis animals, I came across an interesting comparison between cat and dog owners. It is true that one can make out (at least I can) whether a person is a cat or dog owner and further, whether a person is a large or small dog owner. But until now, I could never rationalize why I knew this. Desmond Morris has finally explained what I used to consider extrasensory perception.

Cat owners have a stronger personality bias towards independent thought and action. The “group loyalty” or “team spirit” phenomenon is missing in both cats and cat owners. Dog owners are much more sociable, much readier to be part of the gang. Company men, team sportsmen, politicians, these are less likely to keep cats. A cat person is more solitary, more peaceful even. Artists and writers like cats, soldiers like dogs.

Again there is a gender bias: cat lovers are more often female.

This Desmond Morris attributes to the division of labour that has evolved through the ages. Prehistoric men became the group hunters. The women stayed at home and reared children or gathered fuel and wood – all solitary exercises. The male, in consequence, developed the pack mentality that dogs have inherited from their ancestors, the wolves. The female remained an independent sort of person. Feline self-sufficiency and individualism versus canine camaraderie and good fellowship.

How about making other generalisations? Are cat people fastidious about cleanliness? Do cat people like “touching” – kissing, hugging, handholding etc – more than dog people? Are cat people less talkative than dog people, or maybe gentler in their talk?

Of course, in reality, there are many people who enjoy both animals. I, quite honestly, find them equally enriching to my life. This is explained as most people having both canine and feline traits in their personalities. We have times when we want to be alone and silent, and others when we wish to be part of a crowd.

The one thing that dogs and cats have in common is that they are both good for your health. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that the stroking of both animals makes the body systems calmer, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and induces relaxation. Heart patients abroad are recommended pets as therapy, especially after studies on survival rates of patients with heart disease showed that those who kept pets were much more likely to survive and recover than those who didn’t. Both canine and feline therapy has been used in acute mental distress cases with amazingly beneficial results. In fact, animals have been made mandatory visitors by some hospital authorities in Europe and the USA. Similar results have been reported from prisons where the most anti-social repeaters have shown very positive signs of gentleness or a new desire to belong, merely by being given an animal to look after.

For retired people, household animals provide a focus of activity, and a sense of purpose to get through the day. Dogs or cats, both give their owners a psychological lift. Both make them feel wanted and loved – and increase self esteem!

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