More Men Are Adopting Cats, Report Finds · The Wildest

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Are Men Discovering Their Softer Side? New Report Finds More Males Are Adopting Cats

Man has a new best friend.

by Ro Elfberg
April 16, 2024
A man sitting at his kitchen table using a laptop with a black and white cat on his lap.
FG Trade / iStock

Snoopy and Charlie Brown, Lassie and Timmy, Marley and John, Ghost and Jon Snow — dogs have been portrayed as man’s best friend in pop culture for decades. But men and cats? A much lesser-seen duo (although Garfield and John might have something to say about that). 

It may seem that men have a preference for dogs over cats. For example, when I started dating my partner he very clearly stated to me (someone who has a cat), “I would never get a cat.” Fast forward to the present day, and just this morning he spent 10 solid minutes giving my cat Kobe a very intense head massage before leaving for work — so perhaps being a cat stepdad wasn’t such a hard no after all?

Whatever the reason for some men’s tendency towards dogs over cats — and who am I to speculate on the behaviors and choices of men — the tide is apparently turning, according to new data from UK Pet Food’s Pet Population Report.

The report highlights the fact that in the UK, over the past four years, 27 percent of men who have adopted a pet chose to take on an adult cat, compared to 18 percent of women. This translates to 1.5 million new male households adding an adult cat, compared to around 1 million female households (unfortunately, there is no data presented that doesn’t fall into these binary categories). 

Why are men choosing cats?

“Cats have always been a popular choice of pet, but we’re particularly delighted to see that more men are seeing the benefits of older cats, as well as kittens,” says Daniel Warren-Cummings, behavior officer at Cats Protection, in the report.

Rich Maskey, a director of photography from London, is also considering adopting an adult cat for the first time, instead of a kitten. “I’ve recently started living alone, and while I enjoy the freedom of having no other humans at home, I’m keen to adopt a cat to keep me company and build a lasting relationship with,” he says. “I’d choose an adult cat because I often have a lot of equipment for work lying around the house, so having a super-energetic kitten bouncing off the walls might not work. Whereas with an adult cat, you already know their temperament before adopting them.”

Rich also explains that because there are so many adult cats in rescues, he’d prefer to give one of them a loving home rather than opting for a kitten from a breeder. “The independence of an adult cat suits my busy lifestyle, too — I’m not sure I’d have the time to raise a kitten,” he says.

When it comes to choosing cats over dogs, there are some reasons behind that, too. “I was always a dog person,” says Nathan Gaël York, who met his partner Calum and his cat Dax eight years ago. “I was actually quite afraid of cats but when you get to know one and learn how to handle their quirks, it can be magical,” he says. “There’s very little upkeep compared to a dog — and cats are cheaper! Dax is the best, he’s very chill and easy to be around, he sleeps in bed with us every night.”

More cats, less stress

Warren-Cummings goes on to say in the report, “We often hear from men who tell us their cats are not only great companions, they’re also incredibly entertaining, which can be a great stress-buster.”

It’s something that Chris Browning, a tattoo artist who has two adult cats — five-year-old Britney (The Bald), a Sphynx, and Bag, a six-year-old cross-eyed Himalayan — can attest to. “I love how affectionate Britney is when she sits on my chest purring and rubs her face against mine until she falls asleep,” says Chris. “It’s very relaxing and helps me unwind after a long day spent tattooing in the studio.”

A study on the cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) in humans interacting with animals actually found that participants who spent as little as 10 minutes per day stroking a cat experienced decreased levels of cortisol. And all that purring? It’s said that a cat’s purr — which is within a range of 25–150 hertz — can be therapeutic for illnesses in humans, helping labored breathing, lowering blood pressure, helping heal infections, and even healing bones. 

Happiness is hanging with your cat

The report also confirmed that emotional benefits appear to be a strong draw for pet adoption, with around one quarter of pet parents admitting that they enjoy time with their pet more than with their family members — as Chris says, “Cats don’t require conversation, which is a bonus when you’re trying to relax.” And over a third (39 percent) confirm that their pet benefits their family’s mental health. 

“Adopting Rico and Beanie has significantly transformed my daily life,” says Londoner Thibault Messemacre, whose morning routine always involves having a long hug with each of his two cats before starting the day. “Waking up with them and making sure they’re well cared for has become a cherished duty that rewards my partner and I immensely — just knowing they’re happy and seeing them take the deepest naps fills us with joy.”

Yann Ryan, a university lecturer who lives in Utrecht with his cat Flóki, feels similarly. “I learn a lot from Flóki. For example, how much he prioritizes his own comfort and just generally does his own thing, which I think everyone could benefit from doing a bit more of. Cats are also just inherently funny and weird, which makes them entertaining in their very nature,” he says. “As someone (currently) without children, it’s satisfying to have someone depend on me and to have some level of responsibility to make sure Flóki is always looked after.”

Whatever your gender and whatever your reason for adopting a cat, the report’s findings clearly highlight what cat lovers have always known to be true: having a feline or two around the house is a surefire path to happiness.

Ro Elfberg

Ro Elfberg

Ro is The Wildest UK’s Senior Editor. She has previously written and copy-edited for British Vogue, Glamour and DICE. When she’s not being manipulated into dishing out Dreamies to Kobe the cat, she spends her free time trying to convince her snake, Butters, to wear a tiny hat.

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