Librarianship | August 28, 2018
Cats or dogs? Check out our librarian pet ownership survey results to learn which pets are most popular among librarians and other information professionals.
This past May, we conducted an informal survey of information professionals who follow the Future Ready Librarians and Library Think Tank Facebook pages to see which pets are most popular in their households. An impressive 480 people responded, and 323 went on to tell us stories about their pets — a few of which we share below. Although most of our survey respondents reside in the United States and Canada, respondents from the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Romania, United Arab Emirates, China and Myanmar also weighed in.
As expected, cats and dogs were the most popular pets among librarians. While cats had a slight edge, dogs were only one percentage point behind. Nearly 90 percent of librarians who took our survey indicated that they own at least one pet, and of those librarians who own pets, 47 percent reported having at least one dog and one cat.
Our survey also revealed that the cat versus dog preference varied by type of librarian. More academic librarians reported owning cats, while more school librarians reported owning dogs. Among public librarians, dog and cat ownership was split 50/50.
Survey respondents also reported owning horses, rabbits, chickens, fish, birds and all nature of reptiles and amphibians, such as snakes, iguanas, bearded dragons, turtles and frogs. Some animals were less popular among librarians, although these may have been under-represented in our survey. For example, only one respondent reported currently owning a ferret. (Freddie, EBSCO’s “Fake News” Ferret, was understandably disappointed!) More surprisingly, no one said they owned a pet pig.
Many of our survey participants shared stories about their pets, several they’d named after characters from Harry Potter and other book series. We read some entertaining stories about dogs, such as the Chihuahua who enjoys eating corn on the cob, a pug who “reviews” books for his owner’s library, a mischievous dog named “Loki” who allowed children to cover half his body in purple paint, and a hound who ate a bag of potting soil. Many reported bringing their dogs to work for children’s story times or to keep them company.
Jennifer Rummel, a children’s and young adult librarian from Colchester, Connecticut, said her two dogs like to smell books and lick them. “But they never chew on them,” she adds. “Sometimes I have them help me decide which book to read next by the one they lick.”
Janet Alder, a library marketing coordinator in Vancouver, Washington, always considered herself a dog person until a Holland Lop bunny, Wucky, came into her family’s life when a friend's bunny had kits. “He's an amazing pet,” Janet says. “It’s so easy because he's litter trained. Seriously, I'm a rabbit person now.”
We also heard amusing stories about cats: one who chases bubbles, another who plays fetch with hair ties, one who enjoys knocking glasses of water off end tables, and a cat in Iowa who listens intently every time an emergency alert comes over the weather radio.
Lindsay Decker, a reference librarian in Philadelphia, said living with her cat, Fitz, is “a lot like how I imagine living with a poltergeist would be. I hear strange noises all night, wake up with inexplicable scratches on my arms and legs, and nothing is where I left it the night before.” Lindsay said sometimes Fitz turns the air conditioner on and off, or wakes her up by leaping onto her face. “But he’s my cat, so he’s perfect in every way,” she confessed, “and I wouldn't trade him for the world.”
One story demonstrated that cats are just as loyal as dogs. Katie Daly, an MSLIS candidate at St. John’s University, told us about one time her cat, “Mister Wednesday,” alerted her family that their apartment building was on fire. “It was about five in the morning and suddenly he was on my face, meowing for all he was worth,” Katie said. Her cat persisted in his efforts until Katie and her family woke up. They all made it out safely, including their cats. “[Mister Wednesday] passed away a year and a half ago on New Year’s Eve after 13 years of being a good cat, and I will never forget how amazing that was and how he looked out for us.”
Some beloved pets have feathers instead of fur. Sara Sladwick, a university library technician from Charlotte, North Carolina, fondly remembers her pet chicken, Girlie. “Without a doubt, chickens have the most diverse, unpredictable, and awkward personalities,” Sara said. “Girlie would not let you come into the yard without some form of snuggles. She was the most demanding chicken; she would yell at the top of her lungs whilst she did this (very dramatic) squatting dance and spread her wings out until someone picked her up and gave her a few minutes of love. She maintained this demanding personality for the entire 10 years of her life.”
Our survey also revealed a slight penchant for unusual pets, including hedgehogs, a tarantula and a pair of fire-bellied toads. The most unusual pet, however, goes to Hannah Grasse, a youth librarian in Illinois. She and her partner recently bought an axolotl, also known as a Mexican walking fish. They named it Chipotle.
“I like that it's a super low-maintenance pet that won't destroy carpets or furniture,” Hannah said, adding that the axolotl lives in water and eats earthworms. “Nine times out of ten, when you try to feed it, it goes for your fingers instead of the actual worm,” she said. “Chipotle is a great conversation starter when we have guests over!”
Check out our infographic for a visual breakdown of our pet survey results.
Help your youngest learners research their favorite animals with content from the Encyclopedia of Animals, one of many reference books included in our Primary Online Package database collection for elementary schools.
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