Does Owning A Cat Make You More Likely To Be An Atheist?

Are you a dog person? Turns out that might make you a God person.

On the other hand if you’re a cat-owner, you might be more likely to be an atheist, instead worshipping your ‘godlike’ cat.

That’s the conclusion that a pair of American scientists have come to after looking at the relationship between pet ownership and people’s religion, after looking at data from over 2000 people surveyed as part of the General Social Survey.

The study, in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, found that the more often someone went to church or another religious worship service, the fewer pets they were likely to own – especially cats.

Those who never went to church owned an average of two pets, which falls to less than 1.5 for those who attend at least once a week.

"The Interaction Between Church Attendance and Number of Pets", Graphic by Ryan Burge
"The Interaction Between Church Attendance and Number of Pets", Graphic by Ryan Burge

“Controlling for other factors, cats are the preferred pet among those who never go to church,” said the paper’s co-author, social scientist and Baptist pastor Ryan Burge.

Perhaps because cats won’t allow you to worship anyone else.

Cat filing nails
Have you been praying to false idols again?

Indeed, fellow author Samuel Perry told The Times that cat owners “end up serving them a lot”, making the felines “very godlike in those characteristics”.

Unless your gods are from ancient Egypt, cats are simply not interested.

Professor Perry suggested that what people sought in religion might also be what they look for in pets.

“We own pets because we love their company and the special interaction they provide for us.

“In some ways, pets are actually substitutes for human interaction.”

Dogs were the most popular pet among people of all faiths or no faith, with there being no religious tradition where fewer than half of adherents own a dog.

But Catholics and Evangelical Christians were the most likely people to own dogs, while people of non-Judeo-Christian beliefs or no faith, as well as mainline Protestants, were most likely to own cats.

Jewish people were far more likely to own small mammals or birds; on the other hand none of those in the survey - that's right, zero per cent - owned cats.

Perhaps their god is not keen for the competition.

“Religious Traditions and Pet Ownership” Graphic by Ryan Burge
“Religious Traditions and Pet Ownership” Graphic by Ryan Burge