Why is there a double standard for dogs and cats?

In 10,000 years time the double standard between cats and dogs will have disappeared because by then cats will have been domesticated as long as dogs have been domesticated now. Do you see a double standard regarding cats and dogs as reported in the online press?

Cat and dog together

Cat and dog together

What I mean is that dogs seem to get a better deal than cats in the human world in terms of write ups on the internet and in general discussions. You see it in many ways. For example, I was looking at motorhomes the other day. You can hire a motorhome and take your dog in it but the same does not apply to cats. A small point but an indication nonetheless.

In America you can declaw cats to your heart’s content. Millions of cats have been declawed for the convenience of their owner but do we ever hear about dogs being declawed? It may happen, rarely, but insignificantly. Or why not de-teething dogs! A dog’s teeth do more harm than a cat’s claws.

We read – it seems endlessly – about domestic cats preying on birds. There is a campaign to keep cats indoors so that they will not prey on birds or other wildlife. We never read about dogs preying on other animals and we don’t have a campaign against dogs to stop them killing animals. Neither for that matter do we have a campaign against dogs biting and hurting and even killing people. Dogs are far more dangerous to people than cats. Do we ever hear from groups of people campaigning against this? I don’t.

A well-known visitor to this website says that her cousin’s dog is a much more prolific hunter than her cat. The dog gets mice daily, also sometimes rabbits, squirrels and even the occasional bird in their fenced backyard. And one time the dog jumped the fence and was found my a mailman to be roaming around on the sidewalk in front of the house – she wanted to get back in. The dog’s owner had no guilt about her dog killing animals. There was no thought or consideration that she must be kept in and that she must more carefully control her to protect other species from her predation.

Meanwhile my friend who looks after a cat, says that she is frequently told by her local Humane Society and the folks at the Audubon Center that cats should never be allowed outside. She’s made to feel guilty, she says because her cat sometimes attacks and captures prey. She is made to feel as if she is irresponsible and even cruel to ever let her cat outside even into an enclosure and occasionally kill prey.

Often we hear about cats wandering into someone else’s backyard whereupon, not infrequently, the cat is attacked by the owner of the yard but sometimes dogs get into someone else’s yard and we don’t hear a lot about that.

Why is there such a discrepancy? My theory is that the dog is 10,000 years ahead of the cat in respect of domestication which leaves the cat more independent and nearer the wild than the dog. People don’t like that independence. They perhaps resented it, almost. They want cats to be pliable, utterly domesticated animals at the beck and call of their owner. They are not.

If I’m correct in that assessment then, as mentioned, only in 10,000 years time will people treat cats and dogs equally in respect of criticisms of their behaviour as dogs have been domesticated for 10,000 years longer than cats.

My friend and colleague says that her theory is that the cat’s superb skills as a predator is a reminder to people that nature is indeed “red in tooth and claw”. Nature is brutal but people don’t want to see the reality of nature. I agree and, personally, I believe that humankind wants to tame nature. Humankind wants to be superior to nature but it is not. Perhaps humans are fearful of nature knowing that nature is bigger than the human. The cat represents nature. Do people tend to be more fearful of cats than dogs?

People want cute animals and pretty scenery. They don’t like that nature is all about survival of the fittest. They want “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”. This is the show where every predator misses his prey every time because…we can’t have the kids seeing that sort of carnage.

My friend says that too many people can’t handle what nature really is. She believes that the heart that beats in the canine companion is really almost as wild as that of the feline. It is, I agree, but I believe that the small difference in the wildness of cats and dogs is critical to our relationship with them and explains the differences and the double standard between them. Also the dog is a pack animal led by his human caretaker. The inherently solitary nature of the cat stands him apart from the human despite developing social skills of the years of domestication. I guess people the cat to be more obedient. It suits our arrogance.

People think that dogs are human and that leads to all kinds of problems including people getting bitten by dogs. Cats retain more of their wild nature, perhaps more so than dogs or they appear to which is why people don’t like cats so much leading to a different standard; these are the thoughts of my friend and I agree with her.

What do you think is the reason why there is a double standard for cats and dogs, if you believe it exists?

Note: many of the ideas here are from my friend who gave me the idea for the article. I have added my views. What are yours, please?

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!


Why is there a double standard for dogs and cats? — 4 Comments

  1. Dogs are work, work, work for humans.
    Cats are content to take the back seat and will have their day in the sun someday.

  2. Many years ago, I adopted a stray from a no-kill shelter. The dog and I had out difficulties, as she was an alpha and untrained. In other words, she was as she would have been in the wild. We had several skirmishes and I was bitten rather badly more than once. The last time she bit, I went alpha bitch-threw her over on her back, grabbed her neck in my teeth and shook her. I didn’t hut her, didn’t break the skin, just behaved as if we were two wild creatures fighting for position. From that day until the day she went over the bridge, there was love and understanding between us. She has been gone several years, and she is missed every day.
    I also have had (as still have) a few feral cats, as well as domestics. The ferals can’t be allowed out, as tthee are totally deaf and one has come to me by a friend from another city. She can’t roam either, as this area is still wild and predators are always around. She has her own room where she can climb, hide and gets fed and allowed to be alone if she wants. I don’t force any to be pets, but if they come up and want to be petted or have their ears rubbed, They get as much or as little as they wish. The oldest of the deaf cats has decided its time to train Mom to pet him whenever he wants-he’s doing a great job, too. My home is NOT people friendly-it’s animal friendly.

  3. I like my cats as they are.
    Your article is timely. Today while returning one of those assemble yourself cat trees that once put together had a sign that said death trap I re-boxed and returned it.
    The clerk asked why and I explained it was very unstable. The clerk quipped that it might be funny to see the cats jump on the tree and have it tip over or come apart. I’ll leave out the reply so you don’t have to edit.
    As to dogs. When confronted about dogs killing cats not only will negligent dog owners quip it’s just what dogs do it comes from higher sources. Somehow it’s almost acceptable for a loose dog to murder a cat. As I told the dog owning brain challenged rancher behind me. If my chickens marched over to your house at 2 AM and shredded your dog you’d have a fit. You’d have a second fit when I told you to just go tot he pound and get another for 40 bucks.
    May cats never become the watered down mutants that dogs are.

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