Appreciation of domestic pet cats as a function of sex role in a Brazilian population

Ramos, D., Ellis, Sarah, Arena, M. N. , Albino, M. V. C., Schiefer, B., Hernandez, J. A. E. and Reche-Junior, A. (2013) Appreciation of domestic pet cats as a function of sex role in a Brazilian population. In: World Feline Veterinary Congress, 26-30 June 2013, Barcelona, Spain.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Poster)
Item Status:Live Archive


Cat ownership is predominantly biased towards females (e.g. Straede & Gates, 1993; Kendall & Lee, 2006). For example, in the U.K., it is estimated that there are 3.5 times more female than male cat owners (McNicholas, 2006). What causes the gender difference in ownership is unknown but possible answers may lie in the history of the human-cat relationship where cats were traditionally always cared for by the females of households and may therefore have become stereotyped as a female’s animal. Furthermore, in some countries, the cat is portrayed as feminine (e.g. Bastet in Egyptian religion) and thus further stereotyped to be associated with the female. It could therefore be hypothesised that cat ownership and associated appreciation of cats is stereotyped to be predominantly a feminine trait which may exist regardless of gender. In order to answer this question, a convenience sample of 303 Brazilian residents completed two questionnaires; the first consisted of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI, Bem 1981) which provides an assessment of masculinity, femininity and androgeny derived from self-reported personality traits. The second asked respondents their cat ownership status, their appreciation of cats and their beliefs regarding cats intelligence. Seventy five per cent of respondents (227) were female, of which 33.9% were cat owners while 34.2% of the 76 male respondents were cat owners. BRSI revealed respondents’ sex roles were: 19.9% feminine, 21.6% masculine, 30.9% androgynous and 27.6% undifferentiated. Regardless of gender, femininity scores (but not masculine scores) were positively correlated both with appreciation of cats (Pearson correlation, r=0.154; p=0.007) and cats intelligence (Pearson correlation, r=0.204; p<0.001). Interestingly, respondent's sex role was not associated with owning a cat (χ2 test=10.197, p=0.335) as may have been expected. However, many factors beyond appreciating cats are likely to influence ownership (e.g. financial constraints, spare time). Further studies exploring whether such relationships between sex roles and appreciation of other companion animals would help decipher whether the link between femininity and cat lovers is unique to the domestic cat.

Keywords:human-animal interactions, gender, feline
Subjects:L Social studies > L322 Men's Studies
L Social studies > L321 Women's Studies
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:11589
Deposited On:02 Aug 2013 15:04

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