Thursday, April 5, 2007
Why are Cats Aloof?
Cats, unlike lesser animals such as dogs, often seem to be independent and act as though they don’t need humans. This is due to the fact that they are independent and don’t need humans. This is not to say, however, that they do not choose to interact with us or even, in extreme cases, decide they like us. Many people expect cats to respond to them the same ways dogs respond to them. This is a mistake. The way in which cats interact with humans should in no way be compared to the way dogs interact with humans. They are two distinct species each with their own “hard wiring” that causes them to respond to us in very different ways.
Take dogs for example. Dogs are inferior to cats. Not only do they have nasty drooling problems but also they are incapable of cleaning themselves, climbing trees or acquiring food without the assistance of several other drooling dogs. It is this latter example that points to a dog’s willingness to live alongside humans.
Dogs are pack animals. To eat, they need the help of the other members of their pack. Working in tandem they hunt and take down prey much larger than any one dog. Their numbers mean they can kill something big like a moose and feeding so many mouths means they need to kill large prey. Thus, dogs understand what it is to need other animals and to work together in a pack.
Cats, on the other paw, are typically solitary hunters. (Lions hunt more like dogs so are excluded here and the status of their “supposed cat-hood” should be called sharply into question. I suspect they drool. But I digress.) Cats generally hunt alone and as dogs hunt large prey, they tend to hunt small prey. Mice, the McDonald’s #1 combo in the world of the cat, are quick, small and great at hiding. This means cats must be quick and stealthy if they want to eat. Two cats make twice the noise which could alert a mouse about to peep out of his hole so one cat is better by himself. Besides, if he invites another cat they can never agree on the same restaurant and then feelings get hurt and the night ends much too soon…
Because cats hunt alone, they are masters of self-reliance. Sure it’s nice that we fill their bowls but the little predators don’t need the assistance of anyone else, feline, canine or otherwise in order to grab a quick meal. This means that as humans we have to earn the friendship of cats in different ways than the ways in which we earn the friendship of dogs. Give a dog food, and he’s yours. Give a cat food and he’s listening but he’s not signing anything. A cat chooses his friends based on personal tastes.
To be a good cat friend do offer food (tuna is a favorite) but be someone who’s easy to get along with too. Do not force yourself on a cat. If you wish to pet him, hold your hand out near him but let him come up to you. Never pet until he has finished sniffing and if he moves away from you stop and move back from him. Once he knows you’re “cool” he’ll be a snuggly companion who’ll sit in your lap and never leave drool on your pants.
No dogs were harmed in the writing of this entry.
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