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Are you a dog person? Ringo, a chocolate lab pitbull mix, and Smoltz, a boxer pitbull mix, play in the Ackerman Park dog run. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Do we make judgments when we first meet people? Of course we do. I’m not talking about the kind of car they drive, where they attended college or whether they wash their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Those deeper concerns can always be learned in later conversations.

What I like to discover fairly early during a “getting to know you” discussion is a person’s pet preference. Are you a dog person or a cat person? The answer provides an immediate personality profile that reveals a basic understanding of who this person figures to be.

Forget the dress for success indicators or the snappy banter that might suggest the subject’s personality traits. The real answers may be defined by simply knowing the pet of choice — dog or cat?

Canine or feline

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Are you a cat person? The photo of two cats looking out the window. Photo by Bill Goff

I’ve never owned a cat, and frankly, never wanted to. As a child and throughout adulthood, nothing but dogs in my family. Does that make me unqualified to author such a column on the subject? Maybe, but fellow dog lovers will understand and those with cats won’t care.

I stumbled across a Winston Churchill quote recently that said, “Dogs look up to people, cats look down on them.” That sums up my general feelings, as well.

A cat’s never done anything wrong to me. I just don’t trust ’em. A dog’s intentions and feelings are out there for one and all to embrace. No hidden agendas, they’re always happy to see you.

True, dogs often require visits to an obedience class. Cats would never agree to enroll or even recognize the need.

Psychologists tell us there are certain personality traits connected to people’s pet preferences. If you’re a dog lover, then that person is apt to be outgoing, positive, disciplined, a planner, loyal and agreeable. A cat lover’s personality characteristics include being anxious, creative, independent, artistic and low-maintenance.

Oh yeah, and this is my own observation. A dog licks your face, a cat licks her own face.

Pant or purr?

Admittedly, I’ve never seen anybody walking their cat while holding a pooper-scooper. But that’s the biggest advantage I might concede to cat ownership.

There’s also the matter of shedding, but we dog lovers tend to overlook certain drawbacks because “he’s such a good boy, yes he is.”

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Dog owners look for companionship, cat owners seek affection. No argument from me on the value of either.

Some people claim to love and own both. They are described, I heard, as bipetuals.

You have to be one or the other, don’t you? Otherwise, it would seem to create a severe personality disorder. Can the same person be trusting and anxious or disciplined and independent?

All these years I’ve been wary of the cat lovers. As it turns out, maybe I should be even more concerned about those pet people who own both.

Or — maybe we should all be less anxious to judge and to offer snap judgments about each other. Do we bark up the wrong tree or hastily bury stuff in the litter box?

We all tend to like what we know. What say we take more time to know how we’re more alike.

Reach Warren at peperwarren@gmail.com

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