Researchers at the University of Bristol say the superior
intelligence of cat owners is unlikely to be caused by their exposure to
their pets, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Rather, more educated people tend to work longer hours and choose a pet to
fit their lifestyles. Unlike dogs, cats require no walking and can manage
with little human company.
Dr Jane Murray, cats protection lecturer in feline epidemiology, who led the
study, said: "We don't think it is associated with income because that was
one of the variables we looked at, and there was little difference.
"Cats require less time per day than a dog, so they are more popular with
educated people who work late and have long commutes."
Homes with degree-holders were 1.36 times more likely to have a cat than
other households. The same homes were less likely to have a dog than
households where no-one went to university.
The study of 2,980 people, published in the Veterinary Record journal, also
found that cat owners were more likely to be older and female.
It also revealed that the combined cat and dog population of Britain is more
than 20.8 million - 50% higher than previously thought.
Dr Jane Murray said: "We are confident that our figures are the most
accurate yet. We are not saying there has been a huge spike in the cat and
dog populations - we are just getting better at counting them."