What our cats and dogs say about our politics

Our politics align with all manner of other things in life, from our religion to the brands we choose to where we live. Another area where Republicans and Democratic states apparently come down on different sides: Family pets.

According to new data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the United States is a country torn between two pets, with some states having nearly two cats for every dog (looking at you, Maryland and Massachusetts), and others having significantly more dogs than cats.

Here's how that looks, courtesy of Wonkblog's great Christopher Ingraham:

If you take even a cursory glance at that map, you'll notice that it looks a little like some other maps you might have seen -- including of the 2012 presidential election. While the East and West coasts are much more cat-friendly, the South is dog country.

Not surprisingly, the numbers for pet ownership line up relatively neatly with a state's politics. Below, we have ranked the contiguous 48 states and the District of Columbia from 1 to 49, with Nos. 1 being the most cat-friendly, the most liberal, and the most urban. (AVMA did not have data for Alaska and Hawaii.)

Of the 10 most liberal states in the country, according to Gallup's rankings, six of them also rank in the top 10 for cat ownership, relative to dogs.

On the other end of the spectrum, all but one of the 13 states that favor dogs the most are red states. And only one blue state favors dogs over cats.

Of course, just because blue states like cats more and red states like dogs more doesn't necessarily mean that liberals love cats and conservatives love dogs.

So what else could account for the differences between states of felines and canines? One likely suspect would seem to be how urban or rural a state is.

But there's actually more correlation between the pet of choice and a state's politics than there is to how urban or rural it is. While cats are seen as more urban pets and dogs more rural, the numbers don't line up so nicely.

Of the top 10 most urban states, according to the Census, only three rank in the top half of cat ownership. And the two most rural states -- Vermont and Maine -- both rank in the top four in terms of cat ownership.

Here's that comparison, with cat-friendly and urban states in blue-green and dog-friendly and rural states in dark purple:


And here's the comparison between cat/dog ownership and a state's liberal/conservative lean. Again, cats are in blue-green, as are more liberal states:


There are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. At the state level in the United States cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, while dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. (The Washington Post)

This post initially said no blue states favored dogs over cats, but New Mexico does. The post has been corrected.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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