Pet Industry and Introverts – is there a connection?

introvertEver wondered why the pet industry attracts introverts?

In my intro post I identified myself as the Myers-Briggs INFJ type. If you aren’t familiar with Myers-Briggs, it is a “personality inventory” which attempts to assign you in four different categories. These categories are: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. Myers-Briggs has more information on their site.

It is probably obvious that the “I” in “INFJ” means I landed on the introversion side. I actually was closer to the middle than I though. Close enough I could swing either way. I have read that as you age you tend to move more toward the middle. I don’t know if that is because you get a little more life experience on you and start to mellow to the middle?

I do know that my experiences have had to push me outside of my comfort zone many times. I distinctly remember the first Chamber of Commerce happy hour I went to in 1997. I was magnetically sucked to the wine table and then I spent the night pretty much supporting the walls. Only speaking when spoken to. It was embarrassing.

Large groups of people I don’t know can make me exceedingly uncomfortable and networking events can leave me drained. Not to mention the energy vampires that you run into who are shoving cards in your face and try to “sell you” on the spot. Those people need to be educated as to what true networking is. Relational, not transactional.


Are you an introvert? How does it affect you in business?

I found an interesting article in Psychology Today that attempted to draw the connection between introverts and cat lovers. I confess, I personally have four cats. I believe in the quote “cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” I also private board dogs and generally have one or more in my home the majority of the time and wouldn’t have it any other way! Maybe that supports my position on the Myers-Briggs spectrum?


Do you agree with the article?

One of the more interesting things I have noticed after so many years in the pet industry is how the industry itself attracts introverts.

I started working at a veterinary clinic in 1988. When I look back I guess that is when I started to notice the trend. I was an assistant to an older male veterinarian, Dr. Cook, at Cape Small Animal Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He was quiet and mild-mannered from what I remember. Likely an introvert.

I discovered that was a common factor through my experiences working at an exotic animal ranch, my pre-veterinary education, and working at veterinary clinics.

“Animal people” worked in the back of the house and the “people people” worked in the front.

Of course those of us that worked directly with the animals had t have some social skills to function with each other, but in general we enjoyed pets more than people.


Does that sound like you?

Do you sometimes enjoy pets more than people?

I have also seen a high percentage of our employees attracted to this work because they do not have to work regularly with people. Not that they can’t. They just prefer not to. In some cases this is driven by mental health and negative past experiences. The National Institutes of Health has actually studied the effects of pets on people which include decreasing the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.

If you operate a staffed business, or plan to one day, you need to embrace this. Inevitably you will need to support and love staff who have life challenges outside of work. Working with pets can give anyone the opportunity to relax and focus outside their own struggles. You can find some more support in an online community for introverts.

Isn’t it wonderful that pets create a safe space to be ourselves?