Friday, November 28, 2014

Why I’m A Dog Person

I don’t have any pets now — except my stuffed animals — but when I did, I preferred having a dog.  Why?  Because I never felt as if Sam was plotting to kill me.

Madam 07-24-14House cats often appear aloof and indifferent toward their human companions. But it’s not just an act — they actually don’t care. A recent study of the domestic cat genome reveals why.

Scientists from the Genome Institute at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis sequenced the first house cat reference genome, and discovered that house cats may not be that genetically different from wild cats. This may explain why house cats seem to ignore their human companions and instead behave like they have their own agenda. Maybe they’re acting like wild cats.

Generally house cats are quite adept at hunting, sharing many of the same genetic traits that make wild cats such effective predators. The genetic adaptations highlighted in the study indicate that house cats still retain many of the characteristics of wild cats, including acute vision, fast reflexes, and an innate desire for murder. Many of the behaviors house cats engage in are thought to be predator learning behaviors – pouncing, kicking with the hind limbs, and chasing prey (laser pointers) and can be seen in wild cats.

These behaviors emerge in house cats within the first 52 days of life before any prey is encountered. This supports evidence of a strong genetic link between house cats and wild cats. Even if given sufficient food, house cats will still pursue prey — though they won’t eat it.


Cats retain more similarities to their wild counterparts than dogs do. The domestication process in cats more than likely started with increased docility, making it easier for cats to interact with humans. These changes would have been a result of ‘self-domestication’, where animals selectively breed to encourage or discourage traits.

Interestingly this is somewhat similar to early genetic modifications in dogs. Some of the first genetic changes in dogs were thought to involve reduced hostility and changes in social cognition. Evolutionarily speaking, cats may still be early in the domestication process — especially when compared to dogs. Over time, as the domestication process continues, it would not be unreasonable to expect cats to become more like dogs.

I wasn’t going to wait for evolution to take its course.

8 barks and woofs on “Why I’m A Dog Person

  1. I have been a cat person all of my life. Dogs not on leashes scare the hell out of me. We have both here at my house; that old tom cat lays on my heart, chest most of the evening. The dog is on my foot rest curled between or beside my legs. There are many differences between the two, if I had to choose, I take cat, who’ll be 14 in January.

  2. I prefer dogs but haven’t had a dog in several years – I have a couple of cats. If you’re ridiculously busy or have some physical limitations but still want a life-form other than yourself in the house, a cat fits the bill. Dogs (proper dogs) require physical activity and emotional interaction that a cat does not. It is my opinion that cats are just little wads of instinct, very good at being cats – end of statement. Dogs can get a paw or two into the world of man but cats cannot. Both of my tom cats are rescues (one showed up on the back porch about 13 years ago as a tiny kitten and the other was a feral that I spent an embarrassing number of hours gentling). They are affectionate, in a cat way, and give unexpected entertainment on occasion but not the deeper attachment of a sort of partnership that a good dog provides.

    BTW, I don’t think cats are indifferent to their human companions. One must allow for the nature of the beast whether dog, cat, horse, etc.

  3. Cats kill. We had many of them, Siamese and fluffy no-brands, and we convinced ourselves that they couldn’t kill baby bunnies and birds if we removed their hind claws. Now I’m reading “Subirdia” by John Marzluff who teaches about wildlife at Washington State. He writes that all those methods we use to fool ourselves into thinking it’s safe to let our house cat outside are useless. Bells don’t work, declawing doesn’t work, cats figure out how to work around them. And house cats kill millions of birds every year. Cats are instinctively not much different than their cousins the cougars. They love the hunt, catching the prey and bringing it home just as African big game hunters bring home trophies to mount and hang on the wall.

    So the answer, good people, who love cats is DON’T LET YOUR CAT OUT OF THE HOUSE! We don’t want to lose the remaining songbird species that dwell in our neighborhoods.

      • Actually that’s not true. Some birds have adapted to humans and can make their nests on rooftops, roadsigns and light fixtures. But domestics cats are the biggest threat to all sorts of bird species killing hundreds of thousands a year. Feral cats are also dangerous. People move and leave their house cats behind to live as best they can. Golf courses provide food sources and water for birds as do strips of wildness near housing developments. So we should all put out those feeders and birdbaths in hopes to save at least a few species of those beautiful creatures.

  4. We’ve had both dogs and cats…and finally, ferrets. Dogs made me feel like slave owners at times. Cats, well, endless amusement was worth the huffiness. But I don’t know that they don’t feel affection…nor that wild cats don’t feel affectionate. That video of the lion raised by two guys and now free meeting them again with wild excitement and kitty hugs that makes me question the findings of that study.
    We presently have a little rescue cat in spite of my allergies and she certainly seems affectionate. When we pet her, she pets us back — using a delicate, unfortunately declawed little paw to stroke our face, hand, arm. She is kept indoors for her own safety, of course.

  5. I have a wonderful dog named Maddie who was in dog foster care when I adopted her. I have a very old cat named Penelope which I think may be eternal. She has issues, but I cannot abandon her in her old age. I think both dogs and cats are wonderful in their own way.

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