Many experts believe that cats and dogs ae very similar in native intelligence, so why is it that dogs do so many more "smart" things. The same experts might answer "Because we bred them to."
Canine genes seem to lend themselves to relatively rapid changes in terms of breeding for all the major traits, which is why we have tiny dogs like Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers and huge dogs like Irish Wolfhounds and English Mastiffs.
In terms of intelligence, dogs range from hounds like Beagles and Greyhounds at one end and working/herding dogs like German Shepherds and Border Collies at the other end.
Some breeds have particular skill sets or instincts bred into them. Retrievers, pointers, and Newfoundlands are good examples of this.
As for cats, almost no attempt has been made to breed them for anything other than their appearance, which is why, with just a few exceptions, cats only differ in terns of coat, ears, and tail. One of the rare exceptions is the Ragdoll breed, which has been bred to be particularly docile and congenial.
SO HERE IS THE QUESTION: Assuming it to be possible, would we want cats to develope the variety of size, appearance, and skills we see in dogs, or do we want them just the way they are?
Suppose we could have huge domestic cats the size of cougars who could be trained as herding animals or to perform as guard cats. Suppose we could enhance their sense of smell or train them to simply catch prey and not kill it?
Would we really want to do that or, are we satisfied that dogs do that sort of thing for us quite well, so why would we even want to bother duplicating what dogs already do so well in cats.
Personally, I like cats just the way they are. Independent, goofy, and not giving a shit.
Cats do many smart things. They potty train themselves, they are much more effective at controlling vermin and pests, And they give, at least in my opinion, much more rewarding companionship than dogs do. Most breeds of dogs will love anyone who scratches their head or has food of some kind. Only a few breeds of cat behave like this. Most of the time you have to earn a cat's respect. Unless you raised the cat from a kitten, it will likely only tolerate being in the same room with you until you give it a reason to acknowledge you. They can be goofy while playing, but so can any other species. Look at humans while they play.
I do believe the Police would be more effective if they had a feline force comparable to their canine force. Not many people would run if a cat the size of a german shepherd and wearing a police vest was chasing them down, not that they would get very far. Cats are much more agile and mobile than dogs. They're better armed too. If a cat had the sense of smell that a bloodhound had, it would be able to cover much more ground than the bloodhound.
The reason there aren't such felines around is because cats aren't generally pack animals. They don't generally have an alpha. Domestic Dogs were bred from wolves. Wolves have an ingrained hierarchy that is easy to exploit. While cats are trainable, they don't play well with others.
"They don't generally have an alpha. Domestic Dogs were bred from wolves. Wolves have an ingrained hierarchy that is easy to exploit."
Alpha and ingrained hierarchy does not really apply to wolves let alone dogs. This idea that wolves form a strict hierarchy from alpha to omega was based upon research in the 70's upon unrelated wolf packs thrown into an enclosed and far to small environment for them.Which would be like studying human social behavior in a refugee camp then trying to equate that to the rest of society. More recent research has shown that naturally wolves form nuclear families consisting of an often monogamous mating pair and 2-3 litters of their offspring. Once the juvenile wolves reach sexual maturity they will disperse to form a family of their own.
But then dogs in human families are more like those penned-in wolves than wolves in the wild, aren't they?
If dogs were wolves then maybe, but they are significantly different in behavior. Dogs do not need to form large territories to ensure a food supply ,nor do they need to form a stable pack to successfully raise their young. On top of that dogs are far more social to strangers. Even when feral dogs form packs they are only loosely connected with dogs coming and going from the pack all the time. Funnily enough but in feral dogs packs hyper dominant dogs are often avoided /ostracized.
Hope you are enjoying Portland. Some Cats are thinking about changing according to some TV adverts over here....
That was funny.
Here in the US, there is a lot of pressure to keep cats indoors. Now, those who keep their cats indoors do it for the cat's safety and to lessen their impact on native bird and small animal species. I saw a British cat documentary where it was mentioned, almost derisively, that many Americans don't let their cats outside. Is the idea of keeping cats away from native wildlife a no-go in your neck of the woods?
As it is there are dogs that I personally consider "unsafe" especially around my son. But I do judge that on an individual basis because it largely depends on the owner.
I'm glad you clarified that, because this so called "Bully Breed" nonsense is pure BS. Pitbulls are big lovable teddy bears, unless they're abused. I don't really know of any big breeds that are aggressive to humans without being in an environment that encourages it. Even Shar Peis can be extremely friendly if given a positive environment. And they were bred specifically to be cold weather guard dogs.
Dogs bred for fighting or guarding so not need abuse to trigger bad behavior. Their big lovable teddybear reputation is more in regard to their master's family (their "pack") than toward outsiders.
There are many instances of pitbulls and other breeds bred for aggression to turn on small children, and to assume it's abuse without knowing the individual case goes beyond the facts and smacks a bit of an unconscious bias.
My aunt had cocker spaniels who had a tendency to nip at kids just trying to be friendly (luckily these dogs had nothing like the grip or tendency to hang on that pitbulls have). I seriously doubt she abused them. Cocker spaniels then, like pitbulls now, were often the result of puppy mills.
Also, the tendency to blame owners overlooks the fact that there will always be bad owners but there don't always have to be pitbulls. We got along quite well without them before they came along.There are plenty of other loyal and lovable breeds with far less disaster potential. A lot of experts think that the ideal companion/guard dog that is almost absolutely safe around children (barring a bad owner, of course) is the Newfoundland.
If your common house cat was the size of a large dog would you feel particular safe around one? Probably the only reason we were even able to domesticate the house cat was because it was too small to eat us.
A house-cat the size of a Tibetan mastiff, wonderful!
Actually, there are cats far bigger than a Tibetan Mastiff. Lions and Tigers are already bigger, but when you cross a male lion with a female tiger, you get a liger, which can be the size of a small cow (800-900 lb or more):