Renowned for the Liberty Bell and the cheesesteak, Philadelphia can now add the litter box as an iconic symbol.
Households in the Philadelphia metropolitan area have a higher percentage of cat owners than any of the nation’s 15 largest metro areas: 568,000, or 23%, according to 2021 U.S. Census figures. Seattle comes in second place with 22%. The stats were first reported by Axios.
In truth, dogs live in a larger share of households in the region – 788,000, or 32% – but that ranks eighth in the country.
Although cats and dogs don’t always agree, they think remarkably alike when naming their darlings.
Four out of five Philadelphia-area male dog names coincide with four out of five male cat names: Charlie, Max, Leo and Milo, according to a national survey released Tuesday by pet-care company Rover. Likewise, four of the five most popular female cat and dog names are Luna, Bella, Lucy, and Lily. In terms of trending names in the US in 2022, these are “Pfizer” for dogs, “Covid” and “Dr. Fauci” for cats.
Can a particular place seem more cat than dog? There are theories.
According to various studies, cats are mavericks, while dogs follow the rules. Birthplace of a revolution, this neighborhood is historically famous for overturning the status quo.
Not that they’re bragging, but cat lovers scored higher on intelligence tests than dogs, according to Science.org. They are also more intellectually curious, Psychology Today tells us.
Beyond that, said Mount Airy animal advocate Aminda Edgar, “Philadelphians tend to be outspoken in their opinions, and people see cats as telling you what they think.”
If you ask the animal lovers at Anima Natural Pet Products in Old Town where they land on this whole purr-against-bark thing, there’s little misunderstanding.
“Cats are so Philly,” said owner Kimberly Davis, offering a new hypothesis:
“Italy has a lot of public cats that people take care of. They’re a big part of cultural life. And Philadelphia, especially South Philly, has a lot of Italians. I wonder if Philadelphia likes cats at least in partly because of Italian tradition.
She added that Facebook is full of pages featuring stray cats and colonies of cats cared for by local rescuers.
“There’s something about Philly,” Davis said. “We want to save cats so badly.”
With felines, as with Philadelphians, said Annie Duggan, 47, a project manager who lives in Havertown, it all comes down to attitude.
“I don’t like cats,” she said, explaining that they trigger allergies. “But I see they expect you to take care of them, and they just do what they want.
“It speaks to something in the character of Philadelphia.”
Plus, dogs love everyone, she added.
Cats and Philadelphians, not so much.