So, who has more friends, cat people or dog people? Are cat people more likely to be single? What kinds of TV shows do cat and dog people prefer?
In honor of International Cat Day (August 8th), and to highlight their work in object recognition in images, Facebook's research team recently conducted a study of more than 160,000 people in the United States who've shared photos of cats or dogs (or both) on Facebook to get some insight into the differences between each group. Facebook's researchers utilized their evolving image recognition technology - the same as is being used to generate automatic captions for vision impaired users - to identify relevant photos and categorize each group.
Here's what they found.
1. "Dog people have more friends"
As many may have suspected, dog people are more outgoing than cat owners, at least going by Facebook's findings.
"On average, dog people have 26 more Facebook friends than cat people. Like their extroverted pets, dog people make more connections online. On the other hand, cat people get invited to more events, so they're putting their friendships to good use."
The researchers also found that cat people are 2.2x more likely to be friends with other cat people, while dog people are only 1.8x more likely to be friends with other dog folk, showing that cat people are more inclined to find mutual ground with other cat fans.
Probably because all those cat photos they're sharing - if your friends are all cat fans you can all share and comment together.
2. "Cat people are more likely to be single"
The "crazy cat lady", popularized by The Simpsons, has become something of a symbol of the tragically single.
That's not always the case, of course, some people just like cats - but Facebook found that there may be some truth to the suggestion, with cat people more likely to be listed as single than dog fans.
"About 30% of cat people are single, compared to just 24% of dog people. But unlike the stereotype, being single and a cat lover isn't related to age or gender - younger cat-lovers, and male cat-lovers of all ages are just as likely as older female cat-lovers to be single."
So the stereotype shouldn't necessarily be a crazy old cat lady, crazy young cat men are just as prevalent.
3. Cat people like sci-fi, dog people love 'Marley & Me"
In terms of arts and culture, Facebook's researchers found that cat people are disproportionately fans of books, TV, and movies. This could be a reflection of the activity levels of each pet - cats tend to be more indoors-focused, willing to curl up all day in front of the TV (or a book), while dogs are more active and outgoing. Cat people are also more likely to be fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and anime, while dog people like love stories. And movies about dogs.
Here are the comparative graphs of books, TV shows and movies for each.
"Books that cat people disproportionately like, such as Dracula and World War Z have longer blue bars off to the left, while books that dog people disproportionately like, such as Marley and Me all have longer green bars off to the right. If equal proportions of cat and dog people like a book, like, say, Hunger Games, no bar is visible."
4. Where cat and dog people live
Facebook's researchers have also mapped where these dog and cat lovers live in the US, creating this graphic which highlights the proportions of each audience.
As you can see, dog people are more concentrated in rural areas - where there's more space for dogs to run - while cat people are more often found in cities. This may also play a part in the movie and TV habits of each - cat people are likely to watch more movies and read more books because they live in regions where there's less room to get out and about.
That said, Facebook's data suggests that cat and dog people do get out of the house at around the same rate:
"Cat and dog people check in to roughly the same number of places each week."
5. How pets affect people's moods
And the last part of Facebook's dog and cat research looks at the moods most commonly expressed by each type of pet owner.
"Examining data from Facebook's feelings feature (where you can annotate a status update with moods like "feeling excited" or "feeling blue"), we found that cat people are disproportionately likely to say they're feeling tired, but also happy and loved."
Facebook's researchers also noted that cat people tend to express a wider variety of feelings on the platform, while dog people are more likely to express excitement and/or pride, specifically.
While the study is relatively light-hearted and not aimed at uncovering any hard-hitting truths, it does provide some interesting context to consider for marketers. For example, if you were to find that your audience is predominantly cat lovers, these insights could provide a road map as to how to connect with them, enabling you to maximize the reach and resonance of your message by angling it towards these interests and behaviors.
And at the same time, the numbers underline the expanded capacity of Facebook's image recognition AI and its ability to add a whole new element to the data collection and aggregation process. Cats and dogs are a fairly broad example, but as the tools improve, marketers will soon be able to identify things like brand logos and specific products in photos, giving them another data element to work with.
If, for example, you could identify your own brand logo in images, you could create a similar audience profile like this for people who buy your products, which could inform your future marketing process.
Cats and dogs is interesting, but it's really only scratching the surface of what's possible.