As dog owners we need to remember that just because a cat is a companion, comparing them to dogs is like comparing apples to oranges. There are marked differences between the two, and cat experts advise caution when it comes to treating these two very different species in a similar way. No matter what we see on TV or YouTube, cats are not small dogs in disguise! Each species has their own unique qualities that really do lead people to state that they may be a ‘cat person’ or a ‘dog person’.
Dog owners feel they can choose and train their puppy for a particular purpose and lifestyle. Cats are very unlikely to change to fit into a human’s social setting and change from a timid cat to a sociable ‘lap cat’. Even getting a kitten and hoping it will adjust has limited effect. Individual cats vary enormously depending on previous experience and genetics, as well as the experience of the cat’s mother whilst pregnant.
Walking cats on a lead is something that crops up from time to time, but cats are generally allowed out by themselves. Dogs in this country aren’t meant to be allowed out without an owner, and it is the norm for people to see a dog roaming freely and assume it is lost. Imagine if this were so with a cat? In contrast, the idea of an ‘indoor cat’ is on the increase but many behavioural experts believe this to be contrary to a cat’s instinctive needs. Cats need to roam, but what if they are near a busy road?
Dogs seem to really put up with a lot more than a cat might. When we ask ourselves why a dog that has been mistreated still returns to the same place, or takes a lot of harsh training without vanishing, this could be credited to dogs’ incredible tolerance levels. Cats tend to vote with their feet and are not adaptable to changes. They can rehome themselves surprisingly easily if there is too much disruption in their home and they will look for somewhere more to their taste. This no doubt leads to the common problem of a cat being fed by a neighbour who thinks the cat calling at their door is a stray. It might just be they are fed up where they live.
Most dogs give off clear body signals, and of course tend to make a lot more noise for a lot more reasons. Both dogs and cats really do want to avoid conflict wherever possible, but as silent hunters who don’t really have a need for social contact, cats give a lot less away than our dogs do. Learn the differences!
My books “The Pawfect Guide to thinking like a dog” & “The Purrfect Guide to thinking like a cat” should help you further understand the differences, so check them out!
– Karen Wild