Have you noticed that the dog is considered man's best friend? Have you ever wondered why there is no male equivalent of the crazy cat lady? You can buy dresses or bow ties for dogs, and you can get dog toys, and pink or blue. Cats haven't been subjected to wearing clothing as much, mostly because they wouldn't tolerate it. But in the language we use to talk about people's relationships with animals, and in the products we buy for our pets, we can see that we impose human ideas about gender and to animals. As the phrase, man's best friend and the image of the crazy cat lady suggest, people in the English-speaking world have historically associated dogs with men and cats with women. Researchers first noticed this in the late 1800s, and there are surveys that confirm it today. People think of cats as female and feminine and dogs as male and masculine, regardless of the actual sex of the animal. Of course, there are some subtleties here. Among dogs, some breeds are considered feminine, small fluffy breeds for example. But dogs in general are associated with masculinity. These gender attributions are reproduced in popular culture, from advertisements to movies to children's books. The language reflects this too. Only women can be catty, and typically it's only men who say, you dog to each other. Notice that using the term for female dog, bitch, is always an insult. The fact that we have specific terms for a female dog, the bitch, and the male cat, the Tomcat, designate members of the species that depart from the way this species is normally gendered. We don't need special terms to denote female cats and male dogs because cats and dogs are already recognized as gendered accordingly. Because cats are gendered feminine, at least in Western cultures, men who appreciate and own cats can find their masculinity in question. The sociologist Erving Goffman, use the term gender display to describe the ritualized behaviors people use to situate themselves as male and masculine or female and feminine within social settings. This points to the way people are always doing gender or creating it, rather than acting out some inborn biological sex. In a study of the personality characteristics of self-described dog and cat persons, researchers examined with the perceptions of others would match the self-perceptions of the dog and cat persons. Dog persons rated themselves higher and masculinity than did cat persons, this held true regardless of gender. Other people also perceive dog persons as more masculine than cat persons. Dog and cat persons rated themselves similar on femininity, but others perceive the male dog persons as lower and femininity. So if a dog is man's best friend, what does it mean for a woman to own a dog? The sociologists Michael Ramirez did some research on this. He found that owners used their dogs to do gender or demonstrate and perform their own preferred gender. He isn't saying that people intentionally selected dogs for this purpose, but in the same way that other people draw conclusions about us based on clothing, or haircuts, or material possessions, dogs also displayed gender qualities. For men, owning a dog maintains a sense of masculinity, but a woman dog owner can use her dog to reinforce her sense of femininity by constructing their versions of ownership differently. For example, whereas men owners tended to emphasize the active site of dog ownership, some describing there dogs as hunting or exercise partners, women valued the affection and closeness they felt with their dogs. So Ramirez concluded that women expand the construct of femininity by owning an animal culturally labeled as man's best friend. But there are versions of ownership differed from men's. The dog owning practices of men and women reproduce the stereotypes of women as relationship oriented at nurturing, and men as physically active. Where does this leave cat owners? In a fascinating study of photo postcards from 1890-1940, the earlier version of Instagram. The authors examined cards that portrayed cats and their owners. They found that men were less likely to be photographed imposes the conveyed intimacy, such as cradling or stroking the cat. They were photographed with cats on their laps and on their shoulders, but seldom held the cats. The authors even found a card with a man pretending to shoot a cat with a gun, clearly to acknowledge toughness and disguise whatever affection the man felt for the cat. Women were photographed more frequently with cats and more frequently imposes that conveyed caring. Women were depicted holding cats as if they were babies or feeding them, for example. Another study suggests that these conclusions hold in the 21st century. Participants in this study watched two men playing a word game on videotape, as part of the study, the men were described as either cat or dog persons, either gay or heterosexual, and participants were asked to rate them on masculinity among other attributes. The participants rated the men less masculine when they were identified as cat persons than when they were supposedly dog persons. Gender is an essential part of our lives and our everyday interactions. Doing gender is even part of our relationships with our pets.