Why Scientists Love to Study Dogs (and Often Ignore Cats)

By James Gorman

Recently someone (my boss, actually) mentioned to me that I wrote more articles about dogs than I did about cats and asked why.

My first thought, naturally, was that it had nothing to do with the fact that I have owned numerous dogs and no cats, but rather reflected the amount of research done by scientists on the animals.

After all, I’ll write about any interesting findings, and I like cats just fine, even if I am a dog person. Two of my adult children have cats, and I would hate for them to think I was paying them insufficient attention. (Hello Bailey! Hello Tawny! — Those are the cats, not the children.)

But I figured I should do some reporting, so I emailed Elinor Karlsson at the Broad Institute and the University of Massachusetts. She is a geneticist who owns three cats, but does much of her research on dogs — the perfect unbiased observer. Her research, by the way, is about dog genomes. She gets dog DNA from owners who send in their pets’ saliva samples.

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