That age old problem, who’s best, cats or dogs?

Posted: March 10, 2012 in cats, dogs, pets

So what is the difference between cats and dogs & the people that own them? While dogs understand the pack cats understand social hierarchy, they also perceive themselves to be at its apex. Dogs really do love you, the walks you take them on and bones. However, cats tolerate you to live in their houses so long as you have a warm lap and understand how to operate a tin opener. A social contract has been established between humans and their feline overlords, and in the same way an understanding also developed between us and our canine slaves, but, in the same way our relationship with cats works, they don’t appreciate that they are getting the dirty end of the stick! Dogs are frequently regarded as toys or ‘little furry people’; they can be dressed up & played with, pulled about and cuddled. Cats resent the impertinence of the suggestion of any kind of familiar relationship and have too much self respect to get involved in any of these monkeytricks – they will quickly skedaddle at the first sign of a six year old bearing down on them wielding a baby-gro. The contract we had with cats when we welcomed these animals into our domiciles was to provide them with a mouse-rich environment which was warm and dry; free lodging and all the mice you can eat for as long as you can eat them. After that, if the cat was good, the humans might keep it on out of having become accustomed to having it around. Dogs could be trained to work and, as workers, could insinuate themselves into human society. Their pack mentality also seemed similar to human social interaction which meant that they could easily be subject to anthropomorphizing thus enabling them to become ‘part of the family’. Dogs are happy to treat the human family as their own pack and understand their place in it, they are perfectly capable of eating the same food and able to obey instructions, even responding to their own name! (to paraphrase Elliot in Practical Cats, the cat has a secret name, you don’t know it, don’t even bother.) In recent work carried out by Dr Karen McComb of the University of Sussex it was found that cats which live in a home with a single human learn to embed a trill which acts on the subconscious in the same way as a baby’s cry; it makes the hearer want to help it. In this animal to human verbal communication cats have learned to give us the sensation of pleasure and accomplishment at obeying their will. Whereas dogs will beg at table or bark and whine until they either get what they want or a slipper thrown at them depending on the human’s mood, a cat will purr to tell its human “You’re making me happy;” and then add that little chirp which tells us “but you know it’d make both of us so much happier if you got the hell up & gave me some milk!”

It’s something of a truism that dogs see the relationship between themselves and us as “they give me food and shelter, they must be gods” while a cat’s perception is more “they give me food and shelter, I must be god” (although how a dog perceives the human passion for tying it to a rope & then following after it with a plastic bag must be wondered at).

But what of the people who keep cats and dogs in their homes? Dog owners can’t see the attraction of keeping a cat, they don’t fetch sticks, they don’t display boundless enthusiasm for long walks across forest and fell, they can’t guard the house and have you ever tried to get a cat to help the blind? A recipe for disaster! Cat owners (I should really say hosts but we like to maintain the notion of seniority) can’t often see the point of dogs; labour intensive, noisy, and often over-energetic while they are young and astonishingly kickable if badly trained. I know there’s no such thing as a badly trained dog, just a badly trained owner but if you kicked the keeper their canine accessories would bite your leg. Dog lovers see cats as aloof and condescending to human society, This is what I think cat lovers see in their furry housemates, they like to identify with their independence and inscrutability. Cats love the dark and play on having an air of mystery yet, of course, they have their playful side. Yes their playfulness manifests itself as tearing small fluffy toys to shreds but wouldn’t you rather that than a bull mastiff taking a playful shine to your new shoes? A cat person will see the dog lover as rather naïve, the dog only behaves in a loving fashion because that’s what it has evolved to do, it’s simply paying a kind of rent to the pack. It seems that the argument on who is right, cat people or dog people is intransigent. You will never really get them to agree on anything. At first sight this is true anyway, however, should you ever get the two of them in a room together there is one way to make them agree on something; introduce someone who doesn’t like animals


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