Why cats are second class citizens in a cat and dog home

There is a general agreement amongst us that in a home where there are cat and dog companions, cats can sometimes be treated as second class citizens to the dog who is first class and on a par with the humans. Why is this?

This is my instant answer which is open for criticism and discussion.

The root cause of this difference in attitude towards dogs and cats is the difference in character of these two most popular companions.

People are tribal. People warm to other people who think as they think (conformist) and who actually like them. People like to be part of a group. If a person is an individual and a free thinker he or she will have difficulty in getting on within a corporate environment or any group environment. Such a person is an outsider.

You have to be part of the pack, part of the family and you have to bond closely with people to be treated with respect by the members of the group. This is because people are essentially tribal. We are tribal because we seek comfort and we receive comfort in numbers. A group is more secure than an individual. People in a group, gang or community feel safer.

So, a cat is independent. She does not need to be part of a group. She has the personality of an outsider (if she were a person).

Whereas, the dog is needy. The dog needs to be accepted and be part of a group (a pack). The dog goes to the human and wants to please. This pleases the person. The person feels his dog is part of the family, the group, the tribe. The dog is one of them. By contrast the cat is considered (relatively) as an outsider.

People are frightened of people who are outsiders and free-thinkers because they pose a threat to the group. Therefore the outsider tends to be treated poorly or at least less well than if part of the group.

It is irrational for a person to colour his/her attitude towards the cat because of his underlying insecurities but that is the way it is.

The root cause of this possible discrepancy in people’s attitudes towards dogs and cats is due to the fundamental difference in their character when they were wild animals: the solitary African wildcat also called the Near Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) and the pack animal: the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus).

Facebook Discussion

Comments

Why cats are second class citizens in a cat and dog home — 13 Comments

  1. Oh, I don’t know Michael. You are right about dogs being pack animals, and tend to need more attention than a cat requires. But that is just it. The cat doesn’t require constant interaction. Some cats do, more than others. A good human companion understands the differences. I do feel that when my dog was alive, I was more protective of the cats, just because of Daisy’s size. She wouldn’t hurt a cat purposely, but I was always cautious. When Marvin came along, he taught me that it wasn’t necessary to protect him from Daisy. He was always in charge. And he loved her.

    I don’t find it much different than the various kinds of human friends we have. Some are more social. Others are quiet and prefer one on one attention. And others prefer only electronic intersection! Lol. There is room for all, to those of us with an opened mind. I rather enjoy the differences. I can hang with most, as long as they are kind spirited people. Animals are good spirited by nature.

    In many homes there is room and enough love for both cats and dogs.

    True confession, I am enjoying being a four cat only home. I don’t feel in a hurry to get a dog. I’m leaving that up to the other human living here. I’m not in the mood for introducing new dog energy to my world. But like everything else, it will work itself out.

    cat and dog together

    • DW, you are not typical of the human species. You think about things and make sure that what you do is fair. But the average person acts on instinct and when that happens, what I describe happens. This is my argument.

      There is room for all, to those of us with an opened mind.

      This is the point I am making. You are open minded but a lot of people, and the people who do treat cats as second class citizens are less open-minded.

      I am pleased you are settled in your four cat home. Probably simplifies life a bit.

  2. There are not enough people fighting for the right of cats to be treated equally to dogs. We only have to think of declawing, imagine the outcry if dogs were being declawed as puppies!
    I think it’s true that most dog people are pack animal types and cat people more solitary and independent and I love it that when we get together we all feel the same about cats. Just like cats we interact when we choose to, not for show or to please others.

    • Yes, this is close to all of our hearts. It is reassuring to know in our hearts that we here are on the same page, and that’s camaraderie at its best.

  3. Before reading, I want to answer fluidly. Because they are quiet, relatively nondemanding. Only true catlovers (and even all-specieslovers) understand, and don’t allow this. Short answer. <3

  4. “It is irrational for a person to colour his/her attitude towards the cat because of his underlying insecurities but that is the way it is.”

    Some of us color our attitude towards a dog in the household due to underlying insecurities. I am one of those. Hmmm, will this pack animal be healthy if I ignore him/her at times? Will the guilt get to me? Most likely, and I will come to resent the poor thing. My cats and I are as much of a pack as I like. But I do try to attentively keep an open mind.

    I’ve seen cats in households with dogs where all were nurtured and stable. I’ve seen cats in households where they actually do play second fiddle, and it bothers me. Diplomatically raising questions that need to be raised usually gets me nowhere, and I end up avoiding those households, even though the cat(s) could certainly use more attention and love. I tell myself, well, these humans haven’t evolved much, have they. Ha!That’s not being so openminded of me, is it. 😉

  5. Dogs and cats are just different. I think dogs are favored because they are more demonstrative than cats. They are more eager to please. Cats are more mysterious and, again, live life on their terms. If they please you, fine; if not, oh well…That’s part of their charm.
    I’ve had both species my entire life but mostly cats.
    My last 2 dogs lived long lives and grew up with and loved cats. I doubt that I will ever have another dog for reasons that sound like our “old man Michael” such as… I don’t have the stamina anymore to walk a dog 3 times a day for the nexr 15-20 years.
    PSSS… Don’t tell Michael I said that!

    • Exactly Dee. Those walks…the whole day is scheduled around them. And you don’t dare try and change the schedule. I’m fairly active and chipper for an old broad, but I’m not sure I have what it takes anymore. It is just a different relationship with cats. I have friends who may disown me if they knew my feelings about this. So be it!

  6. I think it’s true that dogs are more needy. For the kind dog owner who loves and respects his/her pet it’s lovely to be so adored back by the dog that you adore, and it is nice to have a happy, healthy and well trained dog in the home but they need almost constant attention, walks, grooming, play, feeding a dog is happy with any sort of attention and just wants more, more, more of the same, if the owner goes out a dog is miserable, when the owner returns all is right with the dog’s world. Even dogs who have been ill treated will still wag their tails and greet the neglectful, or even cruel owner, they are pack animals and accept the pecking order. Cats on the other hand…nobody’s fools, they live and interact with us on their own terms, if they need us they certainly don’t let us know that they do, if they want attention they make it obvious, if they want peace and quiet they don’t hesitate to let us know that either. I do like dogs, we used to have dogs years ago, but these days I couldn’t be doing with the constant attention seeking of a dog, I so much prefer the quiet companionship of cats who like time to themselves as much as I do, but who also show their love when they feel like doing so. Cats are cats, we have to accept them as they are, dogs are as we make them.

    • Well said Barbara. The amount of physical energy it takes to raise a dog properly is for the young and/or extremely active person. It breaks my heart to see dogs who never get out for a walk.

      The independent spirit of the cat makes for a different relationship with each cat in a multi cat family. I keeps life so interesting.

  7. I wish we had a LIKE button on here, I keep on looking for it like I do on Facebook, it would be great to give a thumbs up to comments we agree with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.