The battle for superiority between cats and dogs has been an ongoing discussion. Sometimes heated and sometimes just for a laugh as cat lovers jest with dog lovers over who is more intelligent and a better listener. "Cats rule and dogs drool," they say. Our canine friends are always eager to please and want to be man’s best friend. Cats, however, have their own agenda! Perhaps this is where the real reason for their different attitude lies. Although cats have become domesticated over the years, their association with humans is more recent than dogs who have been hanging out with mankind for centuries. Humans have successfully trained dogs to hunt, herd, help with security, and lead the blind. These are just a few of the areas that dogs have performed well in. All these key areas require obedience and good listening skills. If you have ever tried to call a cat and guarantee that the cat will obey and come running, you will be disappointed. Cats come running if it fits into their way of thinking at that moment in time!
The Root of the Behavior
Many of the dog people will be sure dogs are better listeners. After all, they can understand words. Dogs can learn about one hundred words in the language of their trainer. Dogs like to learn the things we want to teach them because pleasing their owners is important to them. Cats can learn between twenty-five and thirty-five words. This leads people to believe dogs are more intelligent and better listeners. Scientifically speaking, when it comes to measuring intelligence dogs are more well-endowed with cortical neurons than cats. Dogs can process more complex thought patterns. This makes them more trainable and gives them better communication skills. In the dog world, there are dogs that fit into the above average bracket and are easier to train than others. The Golden Retriever is one of the smartest dogs and this breed loves to serve its master and learn to do new things all the time. Obedience depends a great deal on the ability to listen. Who is better equipped to listen? In the dog versus cat debate, the cat is very well equipped to be a great listener. Cats can hear a tiny mouse pattering on the other side of the room! Cats have little hairs in their ears that help like antennae to gather sound. Their ears are always pricked and alert. Cats ears can swivel as they tune into sound. Dogs with pricked ears are also capable of swiveling their ears. Dogs do hear well but cats have better hearing and can hear up to 100,000 hertz on a high frequency. Dogs hear up to 45,000 hertz at a lower frequency. Although cats have a sophisticated hearing system. if they don’t choose to respond then the real communication part of listening is lost. Cats mainly use their hearing to detect and stalk prey. Dogs use their hearing to be good listeners and tune into their human family. They want to listen and be ready for the next social interaction. It is this desire to be part of the pack as a social creature, living with people, that sets dogs apart from cats as good listeners. Dogs have evolved from their wolf pack as social animals hunting and living together. Cats are more independent, solitary creatures and although they have become domesticated, their social needs are different.
Encouraging the Behavior
The ability to listen plays a large part in obedience training. Listening adds to the compliance of the animal being trained. Dogs have been carefully bred and integrated into society and are generally happy to listen. A dog can turn his attention to the trainer and focus on commands as well as carry them out. Dogs form a strong bond with their human family. There is almost a parent /child association built up through bonding as a puppy and going forward into adulthood. Dogs are better listeners because they are more dependent on their trainers and they love to be part of the family. Dogs are trained to be better listeners as they fulfill a very important function as working and guide dogs. Your dog is motivated by food and will happily learn tricks to receive a reward. Cats seem rather disdainful of the offer of a treat and certainly don’t appear motivated to perform a trick for their food. Your dog will also be able to read your body language and understand the tone of your voice. Although cats are domesticated and have joined our families they are often aloof and seem to arrive at times that suit them. Dogs are always meeting and greeting and communicating their delight to see you at any time of day. You can soon tune into 'dog speak' as your dog’s body language tells you he is ready to listen to whatever you have to say. Tell your dog to sit, come, or stay, and with proper training, your dog will show his obedient nature via tail wags, smiling lips, and lots of licks. Obviously, this is a generalization, but dogs who have been trained will certainly want to please and be obedient listeners.
Other Solutions and Considerations
When it comes to listening, cats are not quite on the same page. Cats will follow you down the driveway or out into the garden. Cats will climb in your laps and are delighted to see you but somehow do not seem to do what you tell them to do. Having a cat and a dog in your home is a lovely combination of pets. It would be the exception to the rule to say that the cat is a better listener than the dog, although it hears very well. Cats are agile, and cats are clever, but not the best listeners. Dogs have intelligence and dogs like to please people, so they perform better as obedient listeners. Cats have an independent air about them and they like to come and go as they please. Dogs, on the other hand, are loyal and generally eager to serve.
A well trained and obedient dog that listens is a pleasure to have in your home. Dogs like to go out and will listen very carefully for the sounds of a family outing. Cats generally like their space and their creature comforts. They seldom volunteer to leave home and go along with your idea of fun. It has been said that "Dogs come when they are called but cats take a message and get back to you later!" That sums up the debate about cats and dogs and their idea of listening!
Written by a Rhodesian Ridgeback lover Christina Wither
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/28/2018, edited: 01/30/2020