Who loves more cats or dogs? Get Your Pet Thinking

Cats Sit All Over World Map; Dogs Run Off with America, Oceania

Country-for-country, the cats have it. We found 91 countries with more cat posts than dog posts on Instagram, and just 76 the other way around. Cat-lover territory includes the huge territories of Canada (52.3% of cat or dog photos are cats), China (88.2% cats), and Russia (64% cats).

The dogs take more continents, though. Dog posts outweigh cat posts across North and South America, Oceania, and Africa, while the cats take just Europe and Asia. The most fervently dog-loving city is Morpeth in North East England. Morpeth has the highest number of dog posts among the 58 cities that are 100% pro-dog. Hoofddorp in the west of the Netherlands is the most emphatically pro-cat city.

What might come as a surprise, however, is that dogs are also apparently more loving than humans. On average, Zak added, a persons oxytocin levels only rise between 40-60 percent after interacting with a spouse or child.

Our love is chemical, say scientists, so thats how they measured it. As we learned last year, when dogs see their owners, they feel oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates pleasure in our brain and helps us bond with our offspring.

This time, researchers tested pets for the “love hormone” before and after they saw their owners. Ten cats and 10 dogs were swabbed for saliva, then played with their owners for 10 minutes. After, the saliva was tested again. While the oxytocin levels were elevated in both animals, dogs showed an increase of 57.2 percent of the hormone compared to 12 percent in the cats. (One dogs hormone actually went up 500 percent!)

A new study done by researchers for a BBC documentary, “Cats vs. Dogs,” have concluded theres five times more love generated in a dog when it sees its owner than a cat.

This isnt the first study on this subject. Last April, Science magazine revealed staring into a dogs eyes released oxytocin in people, too. Humans “use eye gaze for affiliative communications and [are] very much sensitive to eye contact,” says Takefumi Kikusui, from Azabu University in Japan, told TODAY.com in an email. “Gaze, in particular, (over touch, for example) led to the release of oxytocin.”

Australian Cat-Lovers Reside in Tasmania

You knew it in your heart. Australians are dog people. Tasmania is the only state that posts more pictures of cats than dogs – and everyone knows cats hate water, so the mainland is safe. Cats may be easier to photograph than dogs, but 40% of Aussie households have dogs, while only 27% have cats.

The picture does get a bit more complex if you look city by city, however. Cats are more photographed than dogs in Canberra, Rose Bay, Erina, and Sunshine Coast. And it’s too close to call in Sydney.

Top 10 Reasons Why Cats are Better than Dogs

News outlets are currently littered with headlines spouting that it’s finally been proven: dogs officially love you more than cats. This is based on unpublished research conducted by neuroeconomist Dr. Paul Zak as part of a new series on BBC2, titled “Cats v Dogs,” which found that dogs produce more of the “love hormone” oxytocin after playing with owners compared with their feline counterparts.

The experiment involved 20 human-pet pairs: 10 dogs and 10 cats alongside their owners. Since the brain chemical oxytocin has been strongly implicated in bonding, and cats are generally more independent than dogs, Zak wanted to find out whether its levels differed in these animals after interactions with humans.Advertisement

Zak therefore took saliva samples from all of the companions, both shortly before and after a playful stint with their owners, and measured oxytocin levels. While studies have already shown that both dogs and their owners release oxytocin while gazing into one another’s eyes, likely facilitating the formation of and strengthening close relationships, fewer studies have looked at cats.

On average, dogs were found to produce almost five times as much oxytocin than cats after frolicking with their human companions, with saliva levels rising by 57.2 percent and 12 percent from initial levels, respectively. In addition, only half of the cats actually demonstrated raised levels of oxytocin. While this doesn’t mean that “dogs love us five times more than cats do,” it does at least seem to make sense.Related Stories

In general, cats are more solitary than dogs – wolves, from which dogs originate, are highly social animals that live and hunt in packs, whereas many cats go it alone. Oxytocin has been shown to facilitate social bonding in dogs, alongside others, and can boost dog bonding behavior towards humans and other dogs when administered externally. On the other hand, studies have suggested that cats don’t form secure attachments with their owners, while dogs depend on humans for safety.Advertisement

However, there are obvious limitations with both the study and the conclusions. Namely, as Zak pointed out to the Huffington Post, the studies were conducted in a lab environment. Cats are known for being highly territorial and home-loving animals, so it’s possible that they were stressed out and thus not really up for a head scratch. Although, oxytocin has also been linked to stress regulation, at least in rodents, reducing physiological indicators of stress during unpleasant situations.

While this might be a sweet study that we needn’t take too seriously, it does raise an ongoing frustration in the field of science: over-simplification. Oxytocin has many nicknames – the cuddle chemical, happy hormone, love molecule, and yet these don’t nearly reflect the complexity of this substance. It’s suggested to be involved in an abundance of behaviors and physiological processes, from trust to lactation, so to reduce it down to one – love – isn’t overly scientific.