Are Dogs Funnier Than Cats?
The debate continues.
How often do you find yourself laughing at something your pet does?
According to a 2006 study, dog parents laugh more than cat parents do — but are these findings totally accurate? Are dogs funnier than cats, truly?
We reached out to cat parents, dog parents and a pet behaviorist to ask if they believe one pet causes more laughter than another. And, unsurprisingly, the jury is still out.
What did the study find?
Titled “Tails of Laughter,” the pilot study of about 95 participants asked dog parents, cat parents, people who had both dogs and cats, and people with no pets at all to keep a “laughter log.” These logs were filled out by participants on a single day and chronicled laughter frequency and source of laughter, as well as if they were in the presence of others when laughing.
The logs showed that dog parents and parents of both dogs and cats reported laughing more frequently than cat parents. And what’s more is that people who didn’t own any pets also laughed more than cat parents, according to the logs.
Parents of both dogs and cats reported laughing the most at something their pets did compared to people who just owned dogs and people who just owned cats.
“Dog owners and people who owned both dogs and cats reported laughing more frequently in the presence of their pets than did cat owners,” the study abstract reads. “Findings suggest a complex relationship between pet ownership and laughter. Dogs may serve as friends with whom to laugh or their behaviors may provide a greater source of laughter.”
The author of the study, Robin Valeri, wrote in the conclusion that she believed the way dog parents and cat parents perceive their pets may be at the root of these findings. She wrote that a 1996 study reported that “dog owners perceive their dogs as being more playful, active, affectionate and excitable than cat owners perceive their cats to be. These differences in behavior, whether real or perceived, may provide the basis for differences in laughter between people who own dogs and people who only own cats.”
“Simply put, a dog’s behavior may give people more to laugh at,” she wrote.
Then again, Valeri noted that another explanation may be that dog parents have a greater need to gain their pets’ attention and “control their behavior” compared to cat parents.
So are dogs funnier than cats?
Dr. Ellen Lindell, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, told The Dodo that we need to take these findings with a big grain of salt. In fact, Dr. Lindell doesn’t agree with the findings that “prove” dogs are funnier than cats.
“Cat antics are hilarious and are reflected in the many online videos posted about cats engaging,” Dr. Lindell said. “The study did not indicate whether the cats involved would have been rated as ‘playful.’ That is important information as cats have strong personalities and people tend to select their cats to suit their personality.”
She continued, “Also, it is likely that more people actively engage their dogs at the end of the day, tossing a ball, taking them on a walk, etc., whereas some people simply don't choose to engage their cats, and many cats don't ask. But people that do actively engage their cats and enjoy interactive play with their cats likely would find a lot to laugh about.”
And when we spoke to pet parents, their opinions also varied.
Nathan, a dog parent, told The Dodo that he believes dogs cause their parents to laugh more because “dogs are typically more interactive with their humans than cats are, [and that characteristic] creates more opportunities for shared laughter. Dogs often beg for attention and love being around their people. But cats are more independent.”
And another pet parent named Elisa also agrees with the findings, telling us, “Cats bring a different type of satisfaction — they give comfort, coziness and warmth. Dogs on the other hand bring joy, happiness and playfulness.”
But others agree with Dr. Lindell and think a pet’s personality have everything to do with how many laugh-worthy antics they get up to on a daily basis. Laura, who owns a pet sitting business and is a cat parent, told The Dodo, “I can say from a personal experience that both dogs and cats are funny! I can also say that age and breed do affect the character and the funny side of the pet,” noting that her 8-year-old cat makes her laugh on a daily basis.
"Unfortunately, the study was too ‘short,’” Dr. Lindell said about the findings. “The sample covered two to four hours of a person's day. I think we need to know more about the [cats’] personality or have a larger sample and more days.”
It’s true that a larger-scale study would be needed to draw more concise conclusions about laughter and pet parentship. But, as it stands in the scientific world, dog parents may have a few more belly laughs under their belts than cat parents — but what do you think?
Do you agree with these findings? The cats vs. dogs debate continues.