Several times each year, a new study, survey or poll is released about differences between “cat people” and “dog people.”

Several times each year, a new study, survey or poll is released about differences between “cat people” and “dog people.”

Cat people are happier. Dog people are friendlier. Cat people are smarter. Dog people are more trustworthy.

(Results may vary.)

In January, a University of Texas study showed there were in fact measurable differences between dog people?and cat people.

According to that study, 46 percent of respondents described themselves as dog people, 12 percent said they were cat people, about 28 percent said they were both and 15 percent said they were neither.

The “neither” category is intriguing. We tend to assume that, even if people own pets outside of the dog-cat realm, they would still like one of those better than the other.

But maybe not. Ask those people to choose between the dog-cat distinction, and you might get this:

Q: “Are you a dog person or a cat person?”

A: “Me? Oh, I’m not a person at all.”

It would sound like “The Wizard of Oz” for aliens.

That’s fitting. What if an alien civilization were to visit us??Let’s say the space creatures landed in, oh, Kecksburg, Pa. Their only knowledge about American pet-keeping beforehand comes from reading these surveys.

Imagine the first encounter.

Alien:?Are these the only pets that you, on Earth, have?

Earthling: Is that the closest that you, an alien, can come to assimilating our sentence structure?

I bring this up to bring this up: the University of Texas study suggests that fully 1.5 of every 10 people has no preference between the two most popular domestic animals.

Not surprising, if you consider the sheer number of “other” common pets in our culture. Plus, we tend to think of “pet” in a context of companionship.

Most pets aren’t the snuggle-up type. Many are considered hobbies, novelties, dares, “temporary” pet-sitting for friends, cute little turtles lying upside-down in a mini-pond on the coffee table and your parents told you that was going to happen because you’re not ready for a pet.

That category includes hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice, rats, rabbits, hedgehogs; parakeets, canaries, cockatoos, cockatiels, doves, egrets, homing pigeons, red-headed woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers; frogs, newts, toads, snakes, lizards, iguanas, salamanders; angelfish, goldfish, rainbowfish, pufferfish, one fish, boxfish, clownfish, blue fish; and insects in jars (with holes punched in the lid using an awl).

And don’t forget peafowl, Shetland ponies, leaf muntjacs, goats, millipedes, centipedes, decipedes, loaches, roaches, whip scorpions, hermit crabs, wildebeest, mogwai, pet rocks, unicorns and skunks.

I bring this up to bring this up: You rarely hear someone describe themselves as a “ferret person.”

Another survey will come along to ferret that out.

Dennis Volkert writes for the Sturgis (Mich.) Journal.