Atheists more likely than churchgoers to have cats
There is a statistical correlation between having cats and not going to church, researchers found.
By Stepanie Milbourn | Feb 24, 2020 | Print-friendly

The more you go to church, the less likely you are to own a cat, according to a new article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. The authors, Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma and Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University, reported finding a statistical correlation between rarely or never attending church and owning one or more cats.

There is "a strong, negative correlation between worship attendance and cat ownership," they wrote. The authors based their findings on 2018 data of pet ownership nationwide.

They found that pet ownership in general trends downward in relation to church attendance. The average number of pets owned by a person who never goes to church is 1.96, according to their study. The average dips to 1.5 for a person who attends church almost weekly, and goes further down to 1.38 for a person who attends church more than once a week.

But cat ownership skews especially higher among those who do not attend church, they noted. Conversely, they found no significant difference in rates of dog ownership between churchgoers and those who do not go to church.

The authors posited that religious communities provide social connections, and frequent churchgoers feel less need for the companionship that pets provide--whereas someone who is not part of a church community may feel more of a need for pets. Also, frequent church attendance cuts into time that a person can commit to taking care of pets.

"Americans more deeply embedded within a religious community may have less need (or time) for pets generally, and specifically more independent "roommate pets," like cats," they wrote.