Wednesday 31 October 2007

So Who Wins? Dog or Cat?

Tom is scared of Butch.
Garfield laughs at Odie.

The eternal battle, dog and cat.

So who IS the smartest?
Silly question?
Not really.

It is the eternal debate between pet lovers, which is the animal that rules the roost.
Which animal has mastered the world best...?

Cat, I hear you say. Dog needs man, dog acknowledges man as boss. Not cat. Cat thinks it is above us. Cats are independent.

My point entirely.

The cat certainly THINKS it is smart. It thinks it rules the roost. It suffers from the delusion that it is the master of its environment. It doesn't need us, or so it thinks. It's independence is in it's own head and our tolerance. We choose to let it be independent.

Dog is a bit more on the ball.

It remains a fact- like it or not- that Man has changed the face of the globe.
Man determines which species stay, and which go. Which live in abundance, and which live as protected species.
We have remoulded our world.

Other animals have had to adapt to this fact, or die, put bluntly. That is how evolution and extinction work.

Our ancestors were pretty good at what they did. Competing with man for the same food was not a good survival tactic, as Sabre Tooth Tiger discovered, a bit too late. But it's worth noting that most other Felid Carnivores exist in the thousands, largely because, they have got in our way. Brutal, but true. Once a species like man comes along, the lot of any other predator- unless they do it in the sea, the poles, or in the depths of the jungle- is not a happy one.

After all, we are chasing the same food.

We were also far TOO efficient at one time at catching prey. Basically, early man NEVER failed. No other species had been so good. We caught ALL our prey, and they didn't get a chance to reproduce. And so departed the Mammoth, the Mastadon, the Glyptodon, the Ground Sloth, the Short-faced Kangaroo, etc.

Until we hit on a cunning plan.
Pen them in, and help them breed in abundance.
And THEN kill them.

It is worth looking at the Order Artiodactyl- Even toed Ungulates.
Half the species in it exist in a few thousand.
The rest exist in millions.
There is no in between.

Those that exist in abundance, are those we either eat, or use as beasts of burden.

Those that don't, are those we don't.
It's that simple.

In a sense then, life for these animals- the forces of evolution, their very survival, is no longer in their own hands.
They are prey which have now come completely under the control of the predator.
They exist because they are good prey.

Whether that makes them lucky or not, is up to you.
But it certainly wasn't THEIR choice.

Pets are different.
They have adopted the symbiotic strategy.
If you can't beat them, join them.
Unlike Sabre Tooth, they knew there was a new predator in town that couldn't be beat.

Cat is a recent recruit to our domestic life- about four thousand years ago, tamed by the Egyptians. A skulking, desert scavenger. One who was lucky enough to excite the religous sensibilities of the Egyptians.

Dog is something different. Dog is a true symbiant. Canis Familaris separated from Canis Lupus (the Wolf) by making itself a friend, not a foe, to man.

Dog has evolved determinately towards making himself man's best friend, century after century for forty thousand years.
The dog learned early. In a world of Man, the next best place to be, is by his side.

And who's the fool?
Canis Familiaris must have the easiest life of any species on this planet, yet be one of the most abundant, in terms of large(ish) mammals. Most don't have to find their food. Most sleep in beds as comfortable as people do. They are loved, petted, cared for, mates found for them. They eat, sleep, go for walks and play with squeeky toys.

Sometimes, you'd think we served THEM.

Cat hasn't got that bond with us. We don't take to them so much, because they don't love us like dogs do. Dogs had it sussed a long time ago.

We want a hunting ally.
And a friend.

And oh what a friend the dog has been!

The dog evolved a huge love for us, and us for him.

Dogs stand beside man, surveying the world. With the rulers of the world doting on them.
Cat, well, cat can't even see that.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post Crushed. Well actually I thought it was pretty funny and it gave me some good laughs. I also liked the thesis.

Stanley Coren, university psychology professor but also writer of dog books, including The Intelligence of Dogs, says that a dog has the intelligence of a 2 yr old human child, a really smart dog of a 2 1/2 yr old. A cat on the other hand has the intelligence of an 18mth old human, a really smart one 2 yrs.

No, nothing to do with the post but interesting, no? Of course, I'm a dog person.

Anonymous said...

So very much changed when we decided that penning was a good idea....

My sister has a pug, who I adore greatly, but I swear that sucking up to human's was their best evolutionary strategy. That is the only day that a creature with a tendency to happened to come into its field of vision could have survived to reproduce (ultra vigilence is needed for critters fond of consuming rocks)

Anonymous said...

Oooh, boy. Did you open a can of worms with this post.

You're looking at this completely wrong. Dog and cat cannot be compared. They are two completely different animals, with different evolutionary needs. Comparing them is like comparing deers and rabbits.

Anonymous said...

Well there is no point asking me which side I am on is there. Dogs can actually catch useful stuff like rabbits, squirrels and ducks. Did you ever see anyone go hunting with a pack of cats? OK they can defeat vermin like mice - but they also randomly slaughter song birds.. Dogs don't.

Also Cat poo is poisonous, dogshit may be stinky but it doesn't kill grass.

Vote Dog!!

Anonymous said...

But cute pics, I'm a dog and a cat person, I could never decide...

Anonymous said...

I'm with Phish, although I was anxious to see what Mutley's comment would be.

Cats are solitary hunters, which is one reason they give off that aloof air (although the zen thing they do in a sunny window is very cool) they ARE independent, unless someone is abusive, we don't LET the cat be independent. The speed with which a "domestic" cat goes feral attests to that.

Dogs prefer a pack to hunt with and a well-established hierarchy within that pack, which is why they seem so goofy to please us. A confident dog knows his place in the pack. A domestic dog loose in the wild would soon succomb to a greater predator (coyote, wolf, disease), skulk at the edge of man, or survive in a pack.

It's a difference in hunting styles, and man can be a solitary or a pack hunter.

Anonymous said...

As you know, I have 2 cats and a dog. They're all highly intelligent. The dog probably moreso than the cats I have to say, but they're all incredibly intelligent animals. They obviously get it from their owner lol.

Anonymous said...

I think you should do deers and rabbits next *winks*

Anonymous said...

jmb- I've just been weighing up your asessment there. I'd actually go a bit further. The dog cannot vocalise words, but I think, from watching them they learn a lot more words than we realise. Plus, I've watched their doggie logic sometimes, you can see the cogs working and then see them do something quite strategic. I do think they have evolved to have minds as close to ours as any animal has, because anticipating how we think is how they live.

If we blow ourselves up, Dog will inherit a world he half understands already...

Princess P- Well, dogs DO do daft things. Burying things is one of them, because they never remember where they bury it.
I saw my Mums dog dig a huge a hole so he could bury a log about as big as him.

Phish- I think one can compare intelligence in qualitative terms to a ceratin degre. I think the spider is more intelligent than the cabbage, whatever allowances one makes. After all, we compare human beings, we shouldn't we compare our more distant cousins?

Mutley- Songbirds, no. Mice, frogs etc. If it makes a mess, you can trust a dog to tear it to shreds.

Nevertheless, they say having a dog adds as much to your life as smoking takes away, in years. I can see that.

Helen- Intersting that the preadtors you listed are Canids- this relates to my point. I think the Canid family is superior in intelligence. Only a Canid would have had such sense. Even the wild Canids are more abundant than Felids. They have learned to co-exist better with Man.

The pics are of my Mum's dogs. The one at the top is thirteen now. I used to walk him when he was a puppy. Even now, I'm the only person he'll allow to pick him up, and I only go round every two months.
The bottom one is top dog, even though he's smaller. But he is also very affectionate. If you sit down for a second, consider your lap occupied.

SS- Well, all Carnivores are intelligent, obviously. It's a necessary quality if you want to be top of the food chain. The ancestors of these guys ruled the planet for about forty million years.

Mutley- I've never really studied either of them. When I was a kid, I remember being taken to the New Forest to look for deer at Stupid O'Clock. Never saw one.
I thought maybe Sea squirt versus Virginia Opposum might be good...

Anonymous said...

Yes, excellent. Simi says she quite agrees!

Anonymous said...

O, I really don't know which is the superior species now, but I still maintain hamsters are superior to them both!

That is a really good post by the way I will give it a shout on mine 2nite

Anonymous said...

Cats were attracted to early agricultural settlements like Egypt because of the rodents attracted to large amounts of grain. And they earned their worship as servants of benevolent gods though keeping the cycle of rat plagues to a minimal level.

Dogs are amazing. That first liter that humans raised on their own changed everything--along with the pigs that followed early humans to eat our refuse. Between them, we were inspired to dominate or destroy all other species.

Animal farm, indeed.

Anonymous said...

They have different ways of thinking and interacting with each other. They have different ways of processing information. They even absorb the info in completely different ways.

Thats like comparing a music prodigy with a maths prodigy. Who's smarter?

Anonymous said...

That's an excellent point, Phish. I suppose, Crushed that I could have said bear or cougar, but they are not as abundant as coyotes in these parts. Of course the ultimate predator is disease.

Anonymous said...

As they said on QI, cats are basically cats but there are umpteen different breeds of dogs. In fact it's only dogs that have so many different types.

I love both because I'm soft but dogs are me absolute favourites (no surprises there). WE're just starting looking for a new puppy.

Anonymous said...

It would be fun to stage a fight between a bear and a cougar wouldn't it?
or between say a polar bear and a lion ....