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The meanings of dogs and cats in US American culture based on cartoons, movies, and consumer goods

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Category Theses

The keeping of dogs and cats as household pets is prevalent throughout the United States. Individuals define and express their personal identities in part through customizing their personal repertoires of possessions, which includes pets. The actual symbolic meanings given to dogs and cats are numerous and vary with individual interpretation, yet there are certain themes that repeat themselves. Dogs tend to be favored by "mainstream" veins of American culture, such as in Hollywood film, certain comic cartoons, and in the pet products industry. In these currents, cats are marked and are treated as secondary to dogs.

The present research indicates that the favoring of cats is culturally distinct from the favoring of dogs. Media catering specifically to cat lovers appear in different, often more specialized, outlets than those for dog lovers. There is also some rivalry between the two cultures. Differences between "cat culture" and "dog culture" can be seen in the differences in ownership statistics, consumer behavior, forms of anthropomorphism, and types of entertainment media associated with the respective types of pets. Cat lovers face certain stereotypes that are imposed onto them by the dominant culture. Cat culture has a weaker social presence than dog culture and has a different set of values.

Date 2009
Pages 134
Publisher ProQuest
Department Anthropology
Degree Master of Science
Language English
University Purdue University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Cats
  4. Culture
  5. Dogs
  6. Entertainment
  7. Films
  8. identity
  9. Mammals
  10. Media
  11. Pet industry
  12. Pets and companion animals
  13. Popular Culture
  14. Symbolism.
  15. United States of America