Cute Amimals Doing Cute Things
How can we teach them to get along? Cesar decides to investigate, and brings in an expert to help us understand…
Are dogs and cats born to fight with each other—or can they get along peacefully? They are the two animals who have shared our homes for the longest time—but as I thought about this I realized they have very different histories, and they see the world in very different ways. Dogs, it’s been said, see themselves as one of us, but cats see us as one of them. I decided to do some research to try to understand better.
Man started domesticating the dog’s wolf ancestors at least 15,000 years ago, and, as pack animals, they responded to training from their new human pack leaders. Cats, according to recent studies, chose to live with humans and in effect domesticated themselves. When humans began growing grain in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago, their stores of wheat attracted rats and mice. Wild cats found a ready food source and moved in. Since there was food, it was comfortable, and they were protected from other predators, they stuck around. And because it suited the humans to have the rodent problem solved, they let the cats stay. The earliest known domestic cat is a kitten discovered in Cyprus that was buried with its owner 9,500 years ago.
Cats have done well. They spread across Europe, Asia, and Africa and came with Europeans to the Americas. In the USA today, almost half of domestic cats live in a household where there is also a dog. So it’s pretty important that they’re able to get along.
Dogs and cats have become so much a part of our domestic scene that we sometimes forget how much of their DNA they share with their wild ancestors. Cats—like their big relatives, lions and tigers—are among the most effective hunters on the planet. One reason is that for cats, hunting was always a matter of life and death because they need meat to survive. Dogs, on the other hand, evolved to be able to supplement meat with plant matter when they couldn’t find prey.