My colleague, Elisa, asked why dogs are more valuable than cats in a recent article so I’ll try and provide an answer. It’s worth discussing because it’s true and we are referring to financial value because at the end of the day, for humans, it all comes down to financial value when you’re discussing possessions.
And, I’m afraid, companion animals are ultimately human possessions. I know that millions of cat and dog owners treat their companion animals as family members. I also realise that there are many wonderful relationships between humans and their companion animals. But at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, you will find that dearly beloved cats and dogs are possessions with value.
There many measures of cat and dog value, three are mentioned below.
Elisa, measured the value of cats and dogs by the value of the bond decided by a criminal court for a perpetrator of animal abuse. For dogs it’s around $50,000 and four cats it’s up to $2500.
You can also value cats and dogs as to how people relate to them under emergency situations and disasters. No one has done this but I reckon that if you counted the number of cats and dogs left behind after natural disasters in one area, you will find that more cats are left behind than dogs. This is partly because cats are more independent and therefore might not be in the home at the time of the disaster. However, I would suggest that the same differential in value exists. The lives of dogs are more likely to be saved under disaster situations than those of cats.
There is a third method: the amount of money spent on dog and cats at veterinary clinics in America. It is a well-known fact that Americans (and it is probably the same anywhere else) spend considerably more on dogs than cats. One reason is to do with the perceived value of the companion animal. So why is this?
My theory is that you have to go back to fundamental feline and canine behaviour. Dogs are pack animals and their human masters are the alpha leader. Dogs want to please their human alpha leader. They look to their human for leadership and to treat them as rightful members in the pack. I see dogs as needing to please and serve their human master.
This pleases the human. It pleases the arrogant human and massages his or her ego (usually his ego). It gives the human a servant, a loyal servant who would do as the human asks. The dog is giving to the human of himself and his activities. The human reciprocates (rewards) by giving a dollar value to dogs which is higher than that given to domestic cats.
Domestic cats are more independent. We all know that. In general they see us as equals. They are not looking up to us trying to please. Domestic cats are on the same plane in the hierarchy as us. This might not be always the case and domestic cats can form hierarchies as seen sometimes in multi-cat households. But I see the general relationship between humans and cats as one of equality. Domestic cats therefore are less needy and do not see their role as one of serving their masters but of living with humans, one providing companionship for the other.
This indirectly lowers the value of the domestic cat because the human likes to be needed and looked up to. Humans are vulnerable and fearful with fragile egos, men particularly. As mentioned they need their ego massaging by adoring servants.
There is another factor which impacts the bond value of animal abusers referred to by Elisa. The judicial system has been created by men in a man’s world. Over centuries they have created the attitude and mood of the judicial system in the context of companion animals. Men in general prefer dogs and are more inclined to value dogs more highly than cats because of the reasons mentioned above. The percentage of active U.S. district court judges as of August 2017 is divided as to 66% men and 34% women. In the past it would have been far higher for men.
These are my thoughts. They are not verified or cast in concrete and I expect people to disagree with me. This is more a discussion point than anything else.
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