Cats have long been thought to be cleverer
than dogs - and now it seems the
same is true of their owners.

People with cats are more likely to have university
degrees than those with dogs, according to
a scientific survey of pet ownership.

The study also revealed that the combined
cat and dog population of Britain is more
than 20.8 million - 50 per cent higher
than previously thought.

Researchers at the University of Bristol say
that the superior intelligence of cat owners
is unlikely to be caused by their exposure
to the famously cunning and selfish pets.

Rather, more educated people tend to work longer
hours and choose a pet to fit their lifestyles.
Unlike dogs, cats require no walking and can
manage with little human company.

Dr Jane Murray, Cats Protection Lecturer in
Feline Epidemiology, who led the study, said:
"We don't think it is associated with income
because that was one of the variables we
looked at, and there was little difference.
Cats require less time per day than a dog, so
they are more popular with educated people
who work late and have long commutes."

The study, published in the Veterinary Record
journal, also found that cat owners were more
likely to be older and female. Both cat and
dog owners were more likely than the general
population to live in households
with gardens in rural areas.

As part of the study 2,980 people were interviewed
about their pet ownership, geography and
educational background. Combining the
results with census information produced
new figures for Britain's pet population -
10.3 million cats and 10.5 million dogs.
The numbers do not include strays.

The popular myth of cat intelligence was
dented last year with the publication of a
study showing that they did worse than dogs
at a simple reasoning task. Cats presented
with two pieces of string, only one of which
was attached to a food reward, could not
tell which one to pull for their treat.

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