Numerous strategies and tips exist for putting your best foot forward in an online dating profile. You should be seen with friends, enjoying the outdoors, and maybe in a snapshot with your beloved pooch. But if you’re a man seeking a woman, it might be inadvisable to post a picture of you and your cat.

That’s the conclusion of researchers at Colorado State University and Boise State University, who published their findings in the journal Animals. In two surveys, more than 1300 heterosexual women aged 18 to 24 were shown photos of two men, aged 20 and 21, who posed for photos with and without a cat in their arms. In a questionnaire, the women assessed the men on perceived attributes like personality, masculinity, femininity, and “dateability.”

Cradling a cat had a negative impact across the board. In the first survey, when one of the men was feline-free, 38 percent of 708 respondents said they were likely or very likely to be receptive to a casual dating dynamic. A serious relationship was on the table for 37 percent. But with the cat in the picture, those warm feelings dropped to just 33 percent. Women who responded they would never be interested rose from 9 percent after viewing non-cat images to 14 percent when a furry friend appeared.

The man in the other survey fared no better, with 40 percent of 680 respondents uninterested in a date when he was alone compared to 45 percent when he was holding his pet. A serious relationship was a no-go for 41 percent of women, with the number rising to 45 percent when presented with the man and his cat.

Ultimately, the women found the photos of men with cats to signal the men were more neurotic, less masculine, and less desirable from a dating standpoint. But nearly half of respondents self-identified as dog lovers, which might indicate some pet biases are at work.

A photo of a man posing with cat, of course, does not exclude a love of dogs, nor does the absence of a pet indicate a preference for either cats or dogs. But the survey does seem to provide evidence that the very presence of a cat will lead to some unfavorable assumptions. If you've been unlucky in online love, it may not be you. It might be your fluffball.

[h/t CNN]