Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cats And Dogs

What enables a cat and dog, two completely different species, to engage in such complex interaction as pretend slaughter -- dogs like chewing on cat necks and cats enjoy being chewed -- and why do they enjoy it? To answer the second question first: Cats never play this game with one another, nor do dogs play it with other dogs. It is precisely that they are different species, a fact of which they are somehow aware, that allows them to engage in this play. The reason they enjoy it is that they know it is fantasy; it is unreal. They are taking pleasure in their powers of imagination, in the ability to recognize how very odd it is for two separate species to play with one another.

As for what enables cats and dogs to engage in this kind of behavior, it must have something to do with early socialization. You do not hear of an older dog and an older cat, introduced into the same household, enacting this kind of intimate play. They must be raised together to develop the kind of mutual trust presupposed in the game. Many people report lasting and intense friendships between mature cats and dogs. However, these friendships seem to be very particular and individual. It does not seem, though, that dogs make the abstract connection between their household cat and other cats. They neither consider other cats the enemy, nor are they friendly merely because they belong to the same category of animal as their friend at home.

This trust that develops between cats and dogs when they live together is strangely satisfying to observe. The question to ask then, is whether dogs and cats love each other. Judging by the number of trustworthy stories of dogs and cats who not only form intimate relationships but who mourn one another’s deaths, this is probable. Can we not learn, as dogs evidently have, that it is possible to live with another species without destroying them, eating them, exploiting them or disdaining them?

Alice England


Shari Lynne said...

What a wonderful and powerful post! Even extend that to getting along with one another no matter our differences.

Shari Lynne said...

I just watched the video! How very precious!!!!

SassySashadoxie said...

I so agree. This post was very inspirational for all species. :)

HappyDapperDogs said...

Thank you for this wonderfully altrustic and thought provoking post.

Art and Sew Forth said...

That was really interesting! The more I learn about dogs/cats the more I wonder if humans are really the higher form!!

Giupetto and Gianna Tails said...

Loved the post Alice, and oh so true. If we could only learn from the animals. Loved the video.