Wagging tails – cats versus dogs. An infographic with a mini-video

Wagging tails – cats versus dogs. An infographic with a mini-video.
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The infographic and mini-video is deliberately kept succinct and to the point despite which the information is accurate and covers the essentials. Dogs are tail waggers while cats are not really. Dogs indicate happiness with tail wagging while cats indicate the same emotion with the vertical tail up position. There is an overlap and I mention it in the last point in the cat section in the infographic.

It is fair to say that dogs wag their tails more than cats. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Communication: Dogs rely more on body language to communicate than cats. Their tails are much more mobile and expressive, and wagging is a key way for them to signal emotions like happiness, excitement, or even submission. Cats, on the other hand, communicate more subtly through facial expressions, posture, and vocalizations. Tail movement in cats can also be communicative, but it tends to be less frequent and nuanced than in dogs.
  • Domestication: Dogs have been domesticated for much longer than cats. During this domestication process, they may have been selectively bred to be more communicative and expressive with humans. This could have led to an increased emphasis on tail wagging as a way to bond and interact with people.

So, while both cats and dogs can move their tails, the reasons and frequency behind the wagging differ significantly. For dogs, it’s a core part of their communication toolbox, whereas for cats, it’s a more subtle form of expression.

Essentially it all comes down to the length of time that the dog has been domesticated compared to the cat and there is almost no comparison. For the former it is believed to be around 20,000 years perhaps longer while for the latter it is around half that at 10,000 years. We don’t know for sure.

Some experts say that the domestic cat is barely domesticated and we can see this when the cat reverts to their wild ancestral nature when allowed out at night to hunt. In the natural world they behave as nature made them. It is like flicking a switch. Dogs can’t do this although they can and do become feral through human carelessness.

Dogs are connected at the hip to humans. They look up to people for leadership and normally get it. The dogs’ longer association with humans is rooted in the simple fact that they were and still are to a large extent utilitarian companion animals. They exist in the human world to carry out various functions.

The function of dogs nowadays is normally very similar to that of cats: companionship and a little entertainment. Although in developing countries the utilitarian role is often very present.

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