Americans are dog people, not cat people. This is not merely a function of the fact that more households have a dog than a cat. In a Gallup poll on attitudes toward pets, 70 percent of respondents characterized themselves as dog people, while 20 percent described themselves as cat people. "This includes a 68 percent to 19 percent margin among people who own both a cat and dog and a 68 percent to 18 percent preference among those who own neither." Even among those who own a cat but not a dog, 26 percent classified themselves as dog people. (One can only imagine how resentful their cats are of this.)
Regardless of species, pet ownership is more the rule than the exception in U.S. households. Sixty percent of Gallup's respondents reported having some sort of pet, including 44 percent who said they have a dog and 29 percent who said they have a cat. Seventeen percent said they have a cat and a dog. As for the also-ran species, 10 percent of those polled have fish, 5 percent birds, 2 percent reptiles, 2 percent hamsters or guinea pigs, 2 percent horses and 1 percent rabbits. Gallup didn't say whether a significant number of reptile owners give their pets presents for Christmas. But 76 percent of dog owners said they've done this. So did 67 percent of cat owners—but just 54 percent of those who have a cat but not a dog. Apparently inter-species sibling rivalry is a potential sore point in some pet-owning households.
People have been known to say that it's more fun to have a pet than to have a spouse. Be that as it may, married people are more likely than singles to own cats and dogs. And people with young kids are especially likely to have cats and dogs as well, perhaps in an attempt (usually futile) to have at least one mammal in the house who will heed their commands. Among respondents with kids under age 18, 51 percent said they have a dog and 38 percent said they have a cat.