Man's Best Friend is a dog, but Women's Best Friend is a cat... or, at least according to fiction. In real life, of course, people's preference for cats or dogs isn't tied to their gender (at least not to anywhere near this extent).
This might be a parallel indicator of Men Act, Women Are. Dogs are traditionally used for working (with dogs as purely companion animals being a relatively recent occurrence): they herd sheep, sniff luggage for bombs, chew on criminals, guard the stash, et cetera. Cats tend to laze about not doing much, except disarranging small items, and they're largely indoor pets (which is why loners love 'em). Cats also have this entitlement attitude: "What have you brought me today, furless ape?" Thus, Men and Dogs Act, while Women and Cats simply Are.
A male character who has a particular fondness for cats (especially Cute Kitten) might be In Touch with His Feminine Side (though men who like big cats are mostly aversions), while a female who likes dogs might be a bit of a tomboy (though if it's small dogs or foxes then she's usually anything but). Certain dog breeds, such as hounds or retrievers, are usually owned by men because they're "manly"-seeming working dogs. Male characters are almost never seen owning "girly" dogs, companion breeds like poodles,note chihuahuas, or Malteses. Cats on the other hand (at least the domesticated ones) don't have these restrictions much, mainly due to most people not recognizing more than a few select breeds at most, though longhaired cats and hairless cats are sometimes depicted as feminine due to their high maintenance. Big wild cats, on the other hand, are usually seen as "manly" animals in many cultures, even in Western ones, while foxes, like certain dogs, are portrayed as "feminine" canines in certain cultures and especially modern media.
The prevalence of cat videos on the Internet has diluted the prevalence of this trope somewhat in recent years. It might even count as an inversion since Internet-based activities are often seen as stereotypically male. If a couple consists of a female cat-lover and a male dog-lover, it's often a sign of Opposites Attract.
Also see A Boy and His X, Crazy Cat Lady, Kindhearted Cat Lover, Cat Stereotype, Canine Companion, and Dog Stereotype. Compare to Female Feline, Male Mutt, which is another way the dog/cat gender stereotypes can play out, and Boys Like Creepy Critters and All Girls Like Ponies, for other ways liking certain animals is stereotyped by gender.
- This is a common trope for pet food ads, which usually feature men with dogs and women with cats. A major example are Mars Petcare's famous products: Pedigree (dog food) and Whiskas (cat food), in which even the narrators are male and female, respectively. Subverted with Blue Buffalo, which has woman dog owners listing off ingredients in food they feed to their dogs.
- Tamaki is a girl in Naruto who works with nin-cats and is often surrounded by cats. It is revealed in the Distant Finale that she has become Kiba's girlfriend. Kiba's best friend and partner is his nin-dog Akamaru. Kiba comes from a clan of people who work with dogs, with the other two prominent Inuzuka being his mother and older sister (his father explicitly ran off years ago).
- Inverted in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War where Kaguya likes dogs and Shirogane like cats. However, it's because Kaguya resembles a cat and Shirogane resembles a dog. In other words, they like each other. During their "cat person vs dog person" fight, another character noted that it sounded like they were flirting with each other.
- Rebuild of Evangelion does this with the Animal Motifs of the Eva pilots. Shinji, the only male pilot, is thematically associated with dogs, while both Asuka and Mari are associated with cats.
- Superman has a pet dog named Krypto, while his cousin Supergirl has a pet cat named Streaky.
- Archie Comics:
- In the Archie Comics comic "The Great Switcheroo", Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch changes all of Riverdale's sexes. The titular band of Josie And The Pussy Cats becomes "Joey and the Junkyard Dogs".
- This appears with the protagonists of the three main comics of the Shared Universe: Archie of Archie Comics had a pet dog (as does his best friend Jughead), Sabrina of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has a cat familiar, and the titular band of Josie and the Pussycats is cat-themed (with one of the main characters, Alexandra, also having a cat familiar).
- Mort Walker's daily strip Beetle Bailey centers on the fictional US Army Camp Swampy, where male Sergeant Orville Snorkel has his dog Otto dressed in a scaled-down Army uniform, while female Sergeant Louise Lugg has a white longhair cat named Bella that's perpetually scowling.
- Pooch Cafe has Chazz, who owns a hyper-sentient canine named Poncho, and Carmen, whom Poncho thinks of as a Crazy Cat Lady simply because they're felines.
- Mutts: Earl the dog is owned by bachelor man Ozzie. Mooch the cat is technically owned by a couple, Frank and Millie, but Millie is the one who dotes on Mooch while Frank grudgingly tolerates him at best.
- In Peanuts, Charlie Brown has his pet beagle, Snoopy, and Frieda has Faron, a cat who never walked and was always being carried, usually by Frieda herself. Faron was dropped from the strip after only a few appearances mostly due to the fact that Schulz couldn't draw cats very well.
- Inverted in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant. Weiss, Pyrrha, and especially Noel can't help but coo and adore Ruby's dog, Zwei, but Ragna's completely indifferent. When Yang wonders why, he states that he's more of a cat person.
- Most of the human characters in Disney's Oliver & Company are male and own dogs. Fagin has the dogs Dodger, Francis, Einstein, Rita, and Tito. Card-Carrying Villain Sykes has the Dobermans Roscoe and Desoto. Young Jenny Foxworth, however, adopts The Woobie kitten Oliver. There's also Georgette the show poodle in the Foxworth home, but she's framed as a Foxworth asset rather than as a family pet.
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: The Seavers view their pets as family pets, just as the kids look after each other, but officially, Shadow the Golden Retriever, Sassy the Himalayan, and Chance the American Bulldog note belong to their older son, Peter, daughter Hope, and younger son, Jamie, respectively. At the end of the sequel, the family takes on Chance's girlfriend, Delilah the Kuvasz, and it seems for a moment like the kids' mother, Laura, will subvert this trope and favor her, but it's apparently agreed that Delilah will be a family pet.
- Inverted in Each Little Universe: male protagonists TM and Veggie own two cats (or, at least, have unofficially adopted them), while female survival show host Riegel O'Ryan has a dog. Female Feline, Male Mutt is also inverted since the dog is female while both cats are male.
- Played straight when Peter No-Tail is adopted by two children. Birgitta is the one who becomes attached to the title character, while her brother Olle would have rather had a dog.
- In the Lucy Maud Montgomery story "The Quarantine at Alexander Abrahams" from Chronicles of Avonlea man-hater/old maid Angelina MacPherson and woman-hater/old bachelor Alexander Abraham are trapped together by a quarantine for awhile. She has cats (but only brings one with her into quarantine), he has a dog. They hate each other's pets, but she does feed the dog. By the by, her cat quickly establishes dominance over his dog.
- In The Wheel of Time, it is said that dogs have an affinity for male channelers whereas cats like females, although this is never central to the plot.
- Subverted in Stephen King's short story "L.T.'s Theory of Pets" in Everything's Eventual. L.T. owns a Jack Russell (bought by his wife) and his wife owns a Siamese (bought by L.T.) but both loathe "their" pets and get on much better with the one supposedly belonging to their spouse. (Although he's at pains to point out that both were given with the best of intentions, not a fake "getting your partner something you want yourself" gift.)
- 7 Yüz: Played straight in the episode "Biyolojik Saat". Metin prefers dogs, while Gökçe prefers cats. However, while Gökçe also likes dogs, Metin actively hates cats at the start of the story, which initially puts him at odds with her.
- Inverted in the Friends episode "The One With Rachel's Book". Chandler describes his idea of his future with Monica: a house in the suburbs with a cat, etc. Monica likes the idea but changes the plan to "dog" instead. Though this might have something to do with their couple roles.
- Inverted in series 10 of Big Brother UK, with housemates Sophie and Freddie. Sophie always talked about her beloved pet Chihuahuas, as part of a task she was given the name "Dogface", and actually quite liked it! Freddie said he preferred cats. (Sometimes he even purred!). On separate occasions, Sophie wore dog facepaint and Freddie wore cat facepaint. Their personalities fitted some dog/cat stereotypes. Sophie was a Dumb Blonde, which could go with the trope that Dogs Are Dumb, while Freddie was an eccentric loner, which may go with a male version of Crazy Cat Lady, as well as Introverted Cat Person.
- Invoked in a BBC documentary Cats V. Dogs: Which Is Best?, which was discussing and testing how cats and dogs compare in intelligence, eyesight, sense of smell, hearing, and so on. It was light-heartedly presenting it as a kind of battle between the two species, and they had the female presenter Liz Bonnin fighting on behalf of cats while the male presenter Chris Packham was fighting on behalf of dogs.
- Inversion: Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog features a female dog trainer, Victoria Stillwell. The series gained a Spear Counterpart titled My Cat from Hell starring Jackson Galaxy, a male cat whisperer.
- Inverted in Allegra's Window; the titular Allegra's best friend is Lindi, a dog, while her older brother Rondo's best friend is Riff, a cat.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap has a young couple named Romio and Julietta, who have a pet dog and cat respectively.
- Street Fighter: At first there's Cammy, a British Kindhearted Cat Lover who is also a Shadaloo "product" and defected from them in the past. Then the fourth game introduces Abel, a French amnesiac who Guile rescued from one of SIN's bases, and a lover of dogs.
- Inverted in Yo-Kai Watch. Official art usually portrays the original male protagonist Nate alongside the cat Series Mascot Jibanyan, while the original female protagonist Katie is associated with the (lion-)dog yokai Komasan.
- In Devil Children, the titular Devil Children are each given a starting Mon. The boy, Setsuna, gets a Cerberus (dog demon), while the girl, Mirai, gets a Gryphon (eagle-lion hybrid).
- In Rugrats, Tommy has his dog, Spike, while his cousin Angelica has a cat, Fluffy.
- In one Tom and Jerry short, the cat Tom and dog Spike are owned by a pair of spouses. When their owners decide to keep only one pet, the husband insists on getting rid of Tom, while the wife insists on getting rid of Spike. The owners decide that whoever catches the mouse (Jerry) gets to stay. Tom and Spike end up tearing up the house trying to catch Jerry and are both then thrown out.
- In Krypto the Superdog, Krypto is owned by a boy. Streaky the Supercat is owned by a girl.
- Mickey Mouse has a dog named Pluto the Pup while his girlfriend/wife Minnie Mouse has a kitten named Figaro. note
- The Simpsons:
- King of the Hill:
- Subverted in "The Patriot Act", when Hank offers to take care of a soldier's pet while he's away on duty and is horrified to discover that said pet, named Duke, is a cat. As Duke proves to be quite a handful, Hank makes several insulting comments at his owner's expense, just short of saying he's gay.
- In the episode "To Kill a Ladybird", Hank remarks that dogs are a practical pet and only thinks cats make sense as a pet for little girls and old ladies.
- In the Hungarian animated series Frakk, terror of the cats, the elderly couple Károly and Irma owned two cats and one dog. Irma, the wife, particularly liked and spoiled the cats, whereas Károly, the husband, got along much better with the dog.
- An episode of Dinosaucers shows that the two teen sidekicks have a dog (the boy) and a cat (the girl).
- Inverted in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy; Billy has a cat named Milkshake, while Mandy has a dog named Saliva.
- Inverted in the first episode of Rita and Runt in Animaniacs. We are introduced to the title pair by a man who adopted Runt and a woman who adopted Rita because of this trope, but it's obvious from their complaints about what they want from a pet that the man wanted a cat, and the woman wanted a dog.