By Rob Picheta, CNN

(CNN) — We have cat-astrophic news for animal lovers: Men who like cats are less likely to get a date.

That’s the takeaway from a study by Colorado State University, which found that women are less likely to swipe right — or say yes — to men if they’re posing with a cat in a picture.

Scientists showed hundreds of women photos of two men, both men pictured with and without a furry companion.

Their responses showed that the men’s luck got noticeably worse when women saw the picture with a cat.

“Men holding cats were viewed as less masculine; more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable,” the authors wrote.

When shown the cat-free picture of one of the subjects, 38% of women said they were likely or very likely to casually date him, while 37% said they’d consider a serious relationship with him.

But a picture of the same man holding a cat gave the respondents paws for thought — and those numbers dropped to 33% for each category. Meanwhile, the proportion of women saying they’d never consider getting involved with him rose from 9% to 14%.

By comparison, positive ratings for the second subject did not decline significantly when he was pictured with a cat — but women were more likely to rule him out as a potential partner.

When he was pictured alone, 40% of respondents said they’d be unlikely or certain not to date him casually. But this rose to 45% when he was joined by a cat. Similarly, 41% said they’d be unlikely to consider him for a relationship, but 45% said the same when they saw him with the pet.

A total of 708 women aged between 18 and 24 were surveyed in the online experiment.

The findings are likely the result of long-held cultural stereotypes about cat and dog owners, the authors said.

“It is important to note that these findings were influenced by whether the female viewer self-identified as a ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ person, suggesting that American culture has distinguished ‘cat men’ as less masculine, perhaps creating a cultural preference for ‘dog men’ among most heterosexual women in the studied age group,” they wrote.

“Women prefer men with ‘good genes,’ often defined as more masculine traits,” they added, citing previous research. “Clearly, the presence of a cat diminishes that perception.”

A different study last year found that the “crazy cat lady” stereotype is not supported by evidence.

“Cat-owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety or their experiences in close relationships,” the study said. “Our findings, therefore, do not fit with the notion of cat-owners as more depressed, anxious or alone.”

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Comments
  1. Frank Sterle Jr. says:

    THERE are some guys who’ll understandably hesitate at speaking in public about their particular fondness for pet felines; for, to do so, unlike with expressing affection for a good sturdy canine friend, may be generally stereotyped as a man’s non-testosterone pet-animal inclination. And, yes, there are many people out there who’d implicitly (or even explicitly) question the normality and/or straightness of a guy who adores his pet feline(s)—something that’s implied by first-season Seinfeld’s George Costanza, who, in a doubtful tone of voice and slight shake of his head, says to Elaine Benes (without looking at her) in regards to her boyfriend cherishing his two pet felines: “Guys with cats … I don’t know …”

    George’s line rushed to mind after one response I received after posting a short essay onto a feline-fan site (accompanied by an adorable-enough feline photo, of course) elicited from a reader a disconcerting response subtly questioning my heterosexuality, which left me feeling both resentfully embarrassed and angry.

    It also brought to mind an early-1990s Vancouver Sun letter to the editor—aptly titled “A Man With a Cat Is Where It’s At”—in which the writer, a straight guy who adored his two pet felines, responded to some recently published cat-critical commentary. He frankly cautioned straight single women about relationship-seeking heterosexual guys who love dogs but dislike domesticated felines; for, what such men really want in a mate is, basically, submission—unlike the dudes with cats who more than appreciate a companion’s independent nature as well as a silky soft touch.

    Within, Steve Eykel of New Westminster wrote the following response to another letter author’s cat-belittling: “Let me take a wild guess: [the writer] is a dog person, not a cat person. It’s not too surprising really. After all, a dog will lick your hand, grovel, cringe, do tricks and generally make you feel like the big strong alpha male you wish you could be. A cat will do none of these things. Women take note! This is an acid test for any man’s character. A man who prefers dogs is looking for subservience; a man who prefers cats is looking for a partner. You heard it here first.”

    I further recollected how as a teen I knew two of the (if not the most) toughest, testosterone-laden, and (like myself) straight guys around, who also cherished their pet cats—albeit, no average guy would’ve foolishly openly expressed his pet-feline enthusiasm amongst his demographic peers, lest he seriously risk being unjustly deemed a wuss or in some other way having his reputation permanently besmirched.

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