How cats used humans to conquer the world


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Link here. The bottom line is this:

Compared to many other animals, cats have also changed very little in the domestication process. Behaviorally, they’ve become more tolerant of humans. Physically, though, they’re still about the same size and shape. They still like to pounce on small prey. “Cats have done since before they were domesticated what we needed them to do,” says Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at the University of Missouri. In other words, unlike dogs that herd sheep or hunt badgers, cats didn’t need humans to breed them to become good mouse hunters.

In other words, cats did what they want (as they always do), and humans paid them with food and companionship, while providing them the transportation they needed to reach every continent.

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14 comments

  • ChrisL

    Yep, dogs have owners and cats have staff.

  • BSJ

    I found the article listed after the Cat one interesting too.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/power-causes-brain-damage/528711/

    I think an apt description of this “syndrome” is what I call the Disease of Celebrity. They all seem to get it, the younger it happens the worse it is. The more ‘famous’, the worse it gets. They all seem to loose their minds unless they, like the article says, are able to stay grounded.

    Our President is already deeply infected with the Disease of Celebrity, and now he feels he has unlimited political power on top of that. He is steadily loosing contact with, and his grasp of, the real world with every passing day!

    I can’t see him lasting two years before he has a complete mental breakdown. Spending all your time surrounded by sycophants; Spending day and night yelling at the TV or following every silly thing on twitter surely will have a detrimental effect on his mental health.

  • Laurie

    BSJ:

    Did you run this past your cat before posting?

  • wayne

    Subaru: Dog Tested
    Valet Parking
    https://youtu.be/gMZM8MG6X1o
    (0:30)

  • wodun

    In other words, unlike dogs that herd sheep or hunt badgers, cats didn’t need humans to breed them to become good mouse hunters.

    Given the freedom to act, dogs are very good at hunting/working in a general sense. They don’t need to be bred to unlock this potential and mutts can be successful at many different tasks. When dogs are bred for something, it is for a highly specialized task. This doesn’t mean they suck at everything else though or were poor at a task until bred for it.

    That there are so many breeds doesn’t mean that dogs were unsuccessful in their original form but were so successful that they were used for more than one purpose. That cats had one purpose, largely irrelevant for many current owners, doesn’t really speak to evolutionary success.

    Larson has done similar work with ancient dog DNA. “It’s great that cats are the getting same long deserved treatment,” he says of the new paper. “It’s kind of strange it’s taken this long given the general interest in cats.”

    It is because cats, in general, are not that important. They had one job but now they are mostly companions that take very little effort to care for. But even as pets, people have paid little attention to breeding cats. Is this good or bad for cats? Tough to say but it shows a general lack of importance to humans even in their main role of companion.

    Conquer the world is a bit of an overstatement. Tolerated enough to tag along while humans and other more contributing animals conquered the world is more like it.

  • ken anthony

    Cats will never conquer the world until they can all open doors.

  • Michael

    And open those little cans

  • Michael

    Actually, come tho think on it — mine got pretty good at opening unlocked screen sliders.

  • wayne

    ken/Michael–
    Great stuff.
    Don’t forget the water faucet.

    I’m taking the “conquer the world,” thing’ to be more metaphorical & descriptive of their geographical reach across space and time. (No thumbs, they can’t operate our Control Panels.)

    Border Collie herding a Cat
    https://youtu.be/Juj9EE8wBhY
    (2:21)
    –maybe…I’m not entirely convinced myself.

  • wodun

    I’m taking the “conquer the world,” thing’ to be more metaphorical

    Yes, but it is a bad one.

  • wayne

    Victoria Vetri in Star Trek
    (“Catspaw”)
    https://youtu.be/Sg6Tn54R2Fc
    (1:31)

  • wayne

    Excuse my error,
    that should be– “Star Trek: Assignment Earth.”

  • Cap'n Jan

    As far as ‘catching mice’ goes, a cat will catch a mouse or two a day. But a Jack Russell Terrier will clear a barn of rats in a couple of hours and still be ready to do more.

    Cats can do things when they feel like it, but dogs do it better, with enthusiasm and charm. Over and Over.

    (A bit dog centric, here, but we have cats around the place too and they are fun. Cats will take out snakes, which helps protect the dogs, as I ALWAYS have my dogs desnaked.)

    Fair Winds

    Cap’n Jan

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