One of the reasons people prefer dogs to cats is that felines are not known for being as expressive with their love. Indeed, some people propose that cats do not love their humans at all. Others believe that cats do love their humans but merely lack the dependence dogs have. Living with cats is almost like living with tweens or teens; living with a dog is a lot more like living with a small child.
Even so, have you ever wondered how much your dog really loves you? If an intruder came into the home, would Fido put his life on the line to defend your family or hide under the couch? Is he just hanging around for the tummy rubs and the meals? Is that what he really misses when you work that extra shift — or is it you?
The Role of Dependence
A canine’s love is strongly affected by their dependence. For instance, unless you have a doggie door, dogs cannot relieve themselves. Even when free to roam in the wild, cats have a much higher survival rate than dogs. This is one of the reasons that even people who love both animals feel more alarm and concern at seeing a stray dog than a stray cat.
In fact, one NewScientist article proposed that domestication has increased canine dependence by reducing their will and ability to think for themselves. The article references a study conducted by Oregon State University involving 30 canines given a puzzle to solve. Of the 30 animals, 10 were wolves, 10 were at-home pets and 10 were shelter dogs. Of the 10 wolves, eight were able to solve the puzzle. Of the 20 dogs, only one solved the puzzle.
In fact, most of the dogs did not even try. Instead, they looked to humans for assistance. Even when humans were removed from the area, the dogs waited patiently for them to return and resolve the issue. This implies that one of the main reasons Fido is so excited when you walk through the door is because you bring relief, solutions and higher intelligence home with you.
Cats, on the other hand, retain their independence. If your cat greets you when you come home every day — yes, believe it or not, many do! — then some might argue that type of affection comes from a more genuine place.
The Domestication Process
Humans have spent tens of thousands of years domesticating everything from wolves to snakes. How humans have survived as a species after taking on these experiments, especially in early civilization, is any scientist’s guess. What is certain is that dogs are further along the domestication process than cats.
According to Psychology Today, there is evidence to suggest that dogs began to separate genetically from their wolf cousins about 100,000 years ago, if not sooner. One New York Times article adds that the deliberate domestication of dogs began roughly 30,000 years ago. In comparison, how long have humans been domesticating cats?
This is already the wrong question because it implies that humans can domesticate cats. This notion is false. National Geographic confirms that 10,000 years ago when feline domestication first began to take place, it was because cats chose to join human households. This is still true of taming ferals and semi-ferals today.
Simply put, your feline friend is three to 10 times closer to his wild roots than your average canine companion. Because of this, you could say dogs are better socialized to love their humans. On the other hand, it’s worth pointing out that unlike dogs, cats volunteered to develop their relationship with humans.
The Protective Instinct
While there are stories of heroic cats who come to their human’s rescue in the knick of time, you find this more commonly in dogs. There are two main reasons for this: domestication and the pack mentality.
For the most part, dogs see themselves as part of the family. The pack mentality also fuels the need to protect the family. In spite of this, many people have pampered dogs to the point that the protective instinct often fails to kick in even when necessary. Several experiments and studies have corroborated this. Here are three very short ones worth seeing on YouTube:
- Inside Edition: Will Your Dog Protect You on a Walk?
- Inside Edition: Dogs Tested to See Whether They’d Defend Owner During Home Invasion
- KOIN 6 News: Would Your Dog Protect You During a Break-in?
In these and several other experiments, dog dads and moms were surprised to see that their dogs either wanted to make friends with home intruders or bailed on their owners altogether. Surprisingly, smaller breeds often showed more willingness to defend their owners than even the Pitbulls and other standard guard dog breeds.
Even with dismal results like these, there’s no doubt that many dogs still have that protective instinct intact. And, no matter how domestication gradually wears away at this, they are still a long way ahead when it comes to defending the family versus the average family cat.
The Final Verdict
So, who loves you more? Is it your feisty feline or your adorable doggo? It depends on how you define love. Does your love language include obedience and a stronger willingness to protect? Then, that would likely be your doggo. If you find independence to be an endearing trait and prefer to know your furry friend is with you 100% by choice, then that would be your feline.
What’s most important, however, is that you love your pet. They rely on you — yes, even the cats. That’s why you do everything you can to ensure they get the exercise and companionship they need.
Looking for some help in this department during vacation or while working long hours? Contact Dog Gon’ Good Time for information about Saugus pet sitting and dog walking services.