Why Are Dogs Loyal But Cats Aren’t?

The question is unfair and you could argue it is erroneous. It implies that dogs are better companions simply because they are pack animals. Dogs belong to a pack which is similar to humans. For a human the family is their pack. It’s important that pack animals have a strong sense of allegiance, one with the other.

Loyal dog

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There is, however, a certain amount of human projection onto their dogs, which may convert/translate a dog’s needy behaviour to one of assumed loyalty.

Domestic cats can also be loyal to their human guardian. However, we all know by now that domestic cats are essentially solitary animals. They are independent animals based upon their wild cat ancestor which is a solitary small wild cat living in arid conditions. That’s the basic character. However it isn’t as straightforward as that because domestic cats have adapted to social living over about 10,000 years.

They are used to living with people in their homes, becoming attached to people. There’s been quite a lot of evolution over those 10,000 years which includes a certain amount of loyalty towards their human family members.

The short answer to the question in the title is that the dogs are pack animal and the cat is not. However you have to qualify that with thousands of years of domestication which has, in my view, substantially equalised this fundamental aspect of cat and dog behaviour.

The Siamese cat is said to be more loyal than earlier other domestic cat. That’s probably an exaggeration because cat breeders like to distinguish their creations from others but there may be some truth in it. The truth may lie in the fact that Siamese cats like to be close to their human companions, follow them around and are generally lap cats. Is that loyalty?

You’ll find, on the internet, quite a few videos of cats defending human family members and often they are children. In one video a family cat raced out of the house and charged into a dog who had viciously attacked a toddler. The cat regarded the toddler as his friend and was defending him. It is as clear as it could be that this cat was acting in an incredibly loyal and brave way towards a human.

Loyal cat

There are also numerous videos on the internet of cats sitting on the graves of their recently deceased human companion. This, I would argue, is an act of loyalty.

The word “loyalty” means a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Hundreds of millions of cat companions provide support to their human owner/Guardian by providing pleasant company. Domestic cats are a lifeline to millions of people who are lonely and who lack human companionship. Surely this is loyalty and support?

We must also take into consideration the individual character of both cats and dogs. This has an impact of the animal’s loyalty credentials.

You don’t have to be a pack animal to be loyal, not in the world of cat and dog domestication. I conclude that the title is misconceived.

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4 thoughts on “Why Are Dogs Loyal But Cats Aren’t?”

  1. I wish people would stop reciting this old cliche. Cats are every bit as loyal as dogs, and sometimes more so. Each situation depends on the variables. I tend to agree with Albert Schepis quote: “Cats have the capacity to be loyal (be excited when we come home, follow us around and generally like our company) but it has to be earned, which many people aren’t willing to work at. Also cats are more subtle than dogs, we don’t work at noticing. So if we don’t put it the work and cats honestly don’t reward it, we erroneously conclude it’s their fault. ” In my opinion, these traits identify felines as highly intelligent. They choose when and how to exhibit their loyalty. This is definitely a sign of rational thinking! 😻💜💜🐾🗝️

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  2. Yeah, the question belays the difference between nature and nurture. It assumes the dog is loyal by choice, but if that were more closely examined, the cat still has two feet in the wild, which Michael correctly points out is not pack oriented and is solitary. Both species have been coaxed into being more social with us, but not so much the cat by comparison. So, I would argue that by choice, the cat wins the initial conclusion (who’s more loyal) because she can still choose to live without the companionship of humans and does as shown by their feral population. It’s a confusing situation because they both depend upon humans to survive, but the question is whether they like us or not. I think cats generally are more honest about that, which is what the initial question should be, but we want to hear what we want to hear, so it’s more a sad example of our neediness than anything. Dogs are compelled to adore us by nature, so that’s confused us to think they do it by choice, which cats are more honest about so we incorrectly conclude the opposite because the opposite. It’s kind of the end justifies the means, or something like that. It’s a false argument.

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    • Also, as it’s a mistake to compare cats to dogs, as if what dogs do is the ideal and only measure of loyalty, the fact that humans give up on cats from the start gives them no chance to compete anyway. We don’t encourage cats to be loyal, much as we don’t need to encourage dogs to be so we don’t even try with them either. In fact many dog owners punish their dogs routinely just for the fun of it, and because the dogs put up with it. Cats have the capacity to be loyal (be excited when we come home, follow us around and generally like our company) but it has to be earned, which many people aren’t willing to work at. Also cats are more subtle than dogs, we don’t work at noticing. So if we don’t put it the work and cats honestly don’t reward it, we erroneously conclude it’s their fault.

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