The Irish love their dogs, but aren’t a big fan of cats, according to a new study about pet ownership in Ireland.
Research by University College Dublin (UCD) found that 36 percent of homes in Ireland have a dog, while just one in 10 homes own a cat.
The dog-to-cat ratio is much more drastic than in most other countries. For instance, in the U.S., 37 percent of homes have dogs while 32 percent have cats, while in Britain, the split is even smaller with 22 percent dogs and 18 percent cats.
But Ireland is unequivocally a nation of dog lovers.
Researchers believe the Irish bias towards dogs may be linked to the significance and prevalence of farming and rural life in Ireland, and the fact that many more Irish citizens live in spacious houses, rather than small apartments. The study also states that in Ireland, dogs are viewed as pets while cats are largely considered stray animals.
The Mars company, which manufactures Pedigree dog food and Whiskas cat products, confirmed the trend, saying: “Ireland is unique in Europe. Other countries are much more cat-loving. We tend to have houses as opposed to apartments, so we have the space to look after dogs while cats are more conducive to apartment-living, which is how people are more likely to live on the continent.”
Tony Forshaw of the Siamese and All Breeds Cat Club of Ireland told the Times that there isn’t a history of owning cats in Ireland, compared with the U.S. or Britain, and that “Irish people tend to laugh at cats.”
Forshaw blames the Irish dog bias on the fact that man’s best friend gets more screen time in movies and TV.
“On films and television you’ll always see people with dogs, you rarely see cats,” he said. “But after that advert on television with the hairless sphinx cat there was a huge amount of people ringing up looking for one of them. When people see cats in a popular context, they do go looking for them.”
Apparently not all Irish people are laughing at felines – the UCD study confirmed the stereotype most cat owners are elderly women.
Research shows that Irish cat owners are 1.5 times more likely to be female, and that those aged 55 to 64 were more than twice as likely to own a cat than 18 to 24-year-olds.
Martin Downes of the UCD Veterinary Science Center told the Times: “Older women are more likely to own cats than anyone else. It’s probably for companionship and it’s a lot easier to manage a cat because you don’t have to walk it every day.”