Are you a cat person or a dog person?

I don’t mean which pet you favour, and I don’t mean all those surveys where they look at the differences between people who own dogs, and people who serve cats.

I mean this:

You wake up in the morning, stumble to the kitchen or scullery, and take out a can. To your pet, it doesn’t smell of food. But miraculously, when you open it, delicious food comes out for their breakfast!

The dog thinks
‘they feed me, they take care of me. They magic up food from something which doesn’t smell of food. They must be a god!

The cat thinks
‘they feed me, they take care of me. They magic up food from something which doesn’t smell of food. I must be a god!


It’s one of those facetious trainer stories I am so fond of, for reasons which are stubbornly mysterious to me 😉

And the story carries on like this:

Most of us are ‘dog people’. We make eye contact, we return a smile. We’re eager to please, we reciprocate to those who share vulnerability and intimacy with us. We want to be part of the pack.

A smaller number of people are ‘cat people’. They take their identity and security from themselves, not from others. They don’t feel any need to reciprocate, they aren’t naturally drawn in to the mood of the room. They remain aloof, independent.


I do not think it is a good and valid theory of human motivation in the round.

But it is pretty useful in #business, in #management, and for #consultants — partly just to realise ‘oh, there are different types of people! If not everyone responds in the same way, there might not be anything wrong with them — or me! They might just be different.


It’s a version of what I had to learn about dealing with so-called ‘introverted’ people (I guess for this post I will treat all theories equally), especially in a meeting.

Maybe it’s not that they’re bored, or boring, or just not dynamic people (it might be) — but maybe they just need time to process, and putting them on the spot for instant reactions won’t help. Who knew‽

And dog people — as anyone who has a mixed-pet household will know — can waste a *lot* of time and energy trying to persuade the cat to play.


By the way, I think that ‘cat people’ can actually be exhibiting a learned behaviour which gives them power — sometimes, interestingly, people from marginalised groups. In a world of dogs, the cat stands out — and often intimidates. We used to do training sessions where I roleplayed the ‘big boss’ for the final presentation. I modelled Donald Trump in The Apprentice. It was scary how much impact and power it had.


What lessons have you had to learn about how people, actually, are different?

Are you a cat person, or a dog person?

3 thoughts on “Are you a cat person or a dog person?

  1. To answer these litewait questions:

    1. Dunno, it’s complicated. I learnt stuff, then I learned better and unlearnt, n stuff. I was profoundly influenced by Maturana, and even more so when I was lucky enough to be in his OU 3-day seminar in 1998?9? I actually, at least when being paid to help managerial people, these days, really try ‘to take people at face value’, meaning I accept their presentation of self, or try to. So if you’re in one of my sessions and you present as an arrogant out-of-touch academic tosser – beware!

    I used to be a dog person at work, then I became a cat person, then I became more doggish

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, definitely not my most heavyweight post… I find it actually interesting and useful, though – particularly the tension I feel trying to ‘play against type’.

      Taking people at face value… yeah, that seems to be the most mature and developed point – we need a midwit meme ( for it –
      – I take people at face value
      – I observe the human undercurrents, surface the tensions, challenge and provoke, agitate and move people into the proximal uncertain space of learning
      – I take people at face value

      Rinse and repeat for ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, etc etc


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