Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joelle C. Ruthig


Despite some evidence of personality differences between self-identified "cat people" and "dog people," there is a lack of research on how these groups differ in terms of the quality of their human relationships or whether people who own dogs or cats (or both) differ in the health benefits associated with pet ownership. This study was used to examine the relationship between pet preferences, level of satisfaction and type of attachment participants had in their current romantic relationships. This study was also used to explore whether overall health, depression, perceived stress, and physical activity levels differed as a function of pet ownership and type of pet owned. The participants were 546 adults (aged 18 +) who were in exclusive romantic relationships. Participants completed an online survey that assessed their pet preference, relationship satisfaction, masculinity/femininity, attachment style, general physical health, depression symptoms, stress, physical activity, and various demographics. Based on a series of MANCOVAs and Chi Square tests, the results indicated that relationship satisfaction and attachment style did not differ based on type of pet preference or pet ownership. However, in regards to the health measures, pet owners reported poorer overall health and less engagement in exercise than non-pet owners. Further, cat owners were found to report greater perceived stress than non-pet owners. Health measures did not vary based on pet preference group. These findings may be used by animal shelter staff to encourage potential adopters to

make a more informed decision about the type of pet that is right for that adopter's particular needs and situation.