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Razib in NYT on Evolution of Cats
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Here’s Razib Khan of the Unz Review writing on recent evolution in the New York Times:

Our Cats, Ourselves
By RAZIB KHAN NOV. 24, 2014

DAVIS, Calif. — IT’S commonplace to call our cats “pets.” But anyone sharing a cat’s household can tell you that, much as we might like to choose when they eat in the morning, or when they come inside for the night, cats are only partly domesticated.

The likely ancestors of the domestic dog date from more than 30,000 years ago. But domestic cats’ forebears join us in the skeletal record only about 9,500 years ago. This difference fits our intuition about their comparative degrees of domestication: Dogs want to be “man’s best friend”; cats, not so much.

Fossils are handy snapshots of the past, but a genomic sequence is a time machine, enabling scientists to run evolutionary history backward. The initial sequence of the domestic cat was completed in 2007, but a recent study to which I contributed compared the genomes of the domestic cat and the wildcat (Felis silvestris) and sheds new light on the last 10,000 years of feline adaptations.

Domestic cats are not just wildcats that tolerate humans in exchange for regular meals. They have smaller skulls in relation to their bodies compared with wildcats, and are known to congregate in colonies. But in comparison with dogs, cats have a narrower range of variation in size and form.

Wesley C. Warren, an author of the study, notes that domestic cats have excellent hunting skills, like their wild ancestors. This, too, supports the notion that cats are only semi-domesticated.

Comparing the genomes of the wildcat and the domestic cat added much to what we had known. Michael J. Montague, the lead author, told me he’d anticipated that the two genomes would be very similar, but our study found a specific set of differences in genes involved in neuron development. This brain adaptation may explain why domestic cats are docile.

Scientists have long observed that domesticated species exhibit a suite of strikingly similar traits, from floppy ears to smaller brains, than those of their wild ancestors. Domestication may select for a few similar traits encoded by genetic changes (like smaller brains), but these may produce what we assume are secondary effects (like floppy ears).

Once they were living among us, cats didn’t need to think so much to stay alive; nor did they need such large jaws after we started feeding them our processed scraps. Hence smaller skulls. The same dynamic holds for dogs: Wolves beat dogs in general intelligence tests.

By examining patterns in our animals’ genomes, we’ve confirmed that the same sets of genes seem to be targeted again and again in evolution. As far back as Charles Darwin, domestic animals in particular have yielded insights about evolution because we know what sorts of selection pressures they were subject to. After all, it was us they were primarily adapting to.

Which brings us to the genome of one critical tame animal: ourselves, humans. The Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Konrad Z. Lorenz once suggested that humans were subject to the same dynamics of domestication. Our brain and body sizes peaked during the end of the last ice age, and declined with the spread of agriculture. …

Razib Khan, a doctoral candidate in genomics at the University of California, Davis, writes about genetics, evolution, history, politics and philosophy.

Read the whole thing there.

A couple of general questions I’ve always had about cats and dogs are:

– Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

– Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room? In contrast, nobody ever senses that dogs have the equivalent aesthetic eye for where they’re going to flop out and take a nap.

Then the next question would be: are these just random connections to masculinity for dogs and femininity for cats or were sex hormones and receptors selected in particular?

 
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  1. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I’m glad for the HBD coverage, but Razib is by far the most unpleasant person in this part of the Internet. I understand if he only wants to debate people with an understanding of genetics. But he’s so needlessly mean-spirited that he comes across as an unhappy person that gets his jollies from the dictatorial power he gets to exert over comments sections.

    Read More
    • Replies: @nooffensebut
    "I’m glad for the HBD coverage, but Razib is by far the most unpleasant person in this part of the Internet. I understand if he only wants to debate people with an understanding of genetics. But he’s so needlessly mean-spirited that he comes across as an unhappy person that gets his jollies from the dictatorial power he gets to exert over comments sections."

    I second that.

    I have my doubts about certain aspects of "HBD" and dislike the term, but I don't think that is the root of the issue. Razib has attacked me for being too interested in the subject of the "warrior gene," even though he briefly wrote about it long before I ever did. He can endorse eugenics and still interview famous scientists because he is not white. Now, Razib disdains behavioral genetics and has essentially joined a cult called population genetics. Famous population geneticists have said that there are "no strong candidates" for behavioral genes, and they have no idea about what they are saying because they do not study behavioral genetics. The word "genetics," itself, is a problem because people (including NYT writers) automatically assume that geneticists are the experts on behavioral genetics. I calculated the percentages of various professions contributing to the study of the gene, MAOA. By far the largest contribution came from psychiatrists. To the extent that geneticists did contribute to the research, they were a usually a token co-author, neither the lead author nor the team authority. Basically, geneticists are anthropologists with test tubes, which explains their Scientology-like beliefs. On Twitter, one can see that Razib literally asks Kevin Mitchell for permission to believe behavioral genetics studies in the news. Mitchell has designated himself the lead troll of any behavioral genetics news story. His complaint is always the same: the sample size was too small. Behaviors like "extreme" violence will always be too rare to satisfy this complaint, as demonstrated by the latest study, which looked at every prison in the entire country of Finland. So "science" is breaking up into territories, and the population geneticists planted their flag in the media. Psychiatrists just ignore them.
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  2. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Dogs, domesticated over 30,000 years… cats, 9,000. But it’s absolutely MANDATORY to believe that the human brain has not differentiated itself at all over thousands of years of genetic racial isolation?

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  3. Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

    Maybe it’s because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @peterike
    Maybe it’s because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    If you change "pragmatic" to "self-serving" then I think you've got something.
    , @advancedatheist
    We value cats' affection, when they volunteer it, because cats don't have to like us.
  4. How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can’t?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Follow the genes. It isn't considered racist to keep Steve out; since Nicholas Wade retired from their science section, they do need some new writers. Also, perfect demographics (e.g. younger) as well as having contributed to a "cool" study about cats.

    In the near future, wonder if NYT would consent to allow John Derbyshire to write a column for their pages again?

    , @Twinkie

    How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can’t?
     
    Tyler Cowen is in the NYT all the time. Not all that impressive. I know a thing or two about the newspaper business (have a former senior VP of a major newspaper in the family) and you'd be surprised by 1) how small newspapers are as businesses and 2) how petty and cliquish the editorial staff is. If you can ingratiate yourself with the latter crowd, it's not all that hard to get your op-ed published... repeatedly.
    , @seth
    I suspect having a Muslim name is a big assist.
  5. “Dogs want to be “man’s best friend”; cats, not so much.”

    Maybe, but we’ve had a few over the years. Every single one of them (male and female) behaved like they were the lowest member of a lion (or wolf) pride.

    Read More
  6. @Reg Cæsar
    How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can't?

    Follow the genes. It isn’t considered racist to keep Steve out; since Nicholas Wade retired from their science section, they do need some new writers. Also, perfect demographics (e.g. younger) as well as having contributed to a “cool” study about cats.

    In the near future, wonder if NYT would consent to allow John Derbyshire to write a column for their pages again?

    Read More
  7. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Pumas, panthers, etc. seem more graceful to us than wolves, hyenas or jakals. This implies that the cat/dog aesthetics gap has nothing to do with the length of domestication.

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  8. I think there’s a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren’t.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It’s only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they’re the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I’ve owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, “pussy” probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren’t as easy (for men) to herd.

    What’s funny to me is the level of denial among “cat people.” You can say something simple and obvious like “dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they’ll die for you,” and cat people will take issue. I’ve owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven’t.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    From what I've read "pussy" replaced "coney" (i.e rabbit) as a slang name for places that Whiskey will never get to see only a few centuries ago. And come to think of it, rabbits also deal with danger by running away from it.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    Cats aren't all pussies. We've got one, who happens to be blind, and once ambushed a 100lb Labrador. He hid behind a door way, listened for the dog's foot steps, then leapt out in front and swatted at him with his right paw. The swat landed on the dog's shoulder and he walked past the cat.
    , @Anonymous

    One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies
     
    For me it was Christmas dinner in Switzerland. Tasted just like it.

    "Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/30205410

    Hundreds of thousands of Swiss people eat cat and dog meat say activists, who want the practice to be made illegal.

    A petition with 16,000 signatures has been handed to the Swiss parliament, calling for the government to stop people eating "domestic animals".

    "Around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog," said Tomi Tomek, founder and president of animal protection group SOS Chats Noiraigue.

    Cat appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland.

    It is often cooked for the festive season in a similar way to rabbit - with white wine and garlic.

    "We especially see it in the regions of Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern," said Tomek.

    Dog meat goes mostly into making sausages and a fatty remedy for rheumatism.
     
    , @Perplexed
    "One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies. . . . They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too."

    Not neurotic, but prudent. Cats are prey as well as predator.
    , @Otto the P
    I've owned both too and completely disagree with you on the "pussy" meme. I was worried once because a fox was reported in the neighborhood and got home one night to catch in my headlight beams my American tabby coil then launch hard, fangs and claws drawn for blood, at the fox. Fox took off like bat from hell. No more fox troubles.

    They're natural killers. They're also natural torturers. They like to play with the furry things they eventually eat. They will, after the kill, carefully sculpt a lung or a heart from the carcass and deliver it to you as a tribute. It horrified my then wife, one reason she's now a "then." I thought it was cool The warrior celebrating the kill. Like we used to do here, a long time ago.
  9. I’ve read a lot on the concept of becoming “civilized” is a form of human domestication, but I think domestication involves more than just becoming adapted to humans. Rats, mice, raccoons, skunks, opossums, etc. all seem to have adapted to human society pretty well, but no one would ever claim they are “domesticated.” Domestication I think also includes “becoming tame.”

    – Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

    – Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room? In contrast, nobody ever senses that dogs have the equivalent aesthetic eye for where they’re going to flop out and take a nap.

    I’ve noticed that cats appear to have a lot more “class” than dogs. I’ve never needed to house train a cat. Any cat more than a couple months old naturally knows not to s**t on the carpet. And even outside they do it discretely.

    Read More
  10. Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    I could, of course, talk about the domestication, bonding, pack-orientation, hierarchy and all that scientific stuff, but I already covered the important things above.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

     

    Thus spake "Twinkie".
    , @IBC

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.
     
    Cats are also for people who don't like mice destroying their property. Of course cats can do some damage too, but not as much and historically most people didn't have upholstered furniture and curtains. The best animals for cuddling are probably some of the toy dog breeds. I see that you're partly joking though.
    , @BurplesonAFB
    To paraphrase Deng, who cares how cuddly the cat is so long as it catches mice?
    , @Well
    "Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle."

    Cats kill rats.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_%28cat%29

  11. @Reg Cæsar
    How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can't?

    How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can’t?

    Tyler Cowen is in the NYT all the time. Not all that impressive. I know a thing or two about the newspaper business (have a former senior VP of a major newspaper in the family) and you’d be surprised by 1) how small newspapers are as businesses and 2) how petty and cliquish the editorial staff is. If you can ingratiate yourself with the latter crowd, it’s not all that hard to get your op-ed published… repeatedly.

    Read More
  12. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Cats these days seem more bratty and dependent than I remember growing up. And more housebound and supervised by their caretakers — perhaps the cause of the greater brattiness and dependency, a la the children of helicopter parents? Just as there has been a huge change in parenting styles over the past 25 years, so has there been with pet-caring styles, and in the same direction.

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  13. Well, I’m not so sure about the positioning themselves in a room bit…my cat just spent a half hour facing a wall staring up into the ceiling — no doubt in violation of fang shui principles. She looked very regal doing it, though.

    I think they’re considered feminine because they tend to be graceful, elegant and flexible. They are the ballerina of animals. Dogs…not so much.

    Read More
  14. Cats frequently hunt by locating a scent trail and waiting by it to ambush their prey. Humans do the same thing, if more likely to use eyes than noses to find the trail. Maybe what Steve sees as aesthetically pleasing position and poise on the part of cats is just a common instinctual judgement as to what constitutes a good vantage point or ambush.

    Read More
  15. @sabril

    Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?
     
    Maybe it's because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    Maybe it’s because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    If you change “pragmatic” to “self-serving” then I think you’ve got something.

    Read More
  16. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Svigor
    I think there's a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren't.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It's only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they're the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I've owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation "pussy" is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, "pussy" probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren't as easy (for men) to herd.

    What's funny to me is the level of denial among "cat people." You can say something simple and obvious like "dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they'll die for you," and cat people will take issue. I've owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven't.

    From what I’ve read “pussy” replaced “coney” (i.e rabbit) as a slang name for places that Whiskey will never get to see only a few centuries ago. And come to think of it, rabbits also deal with danger by running away from it.

    Read More
  17. @Twinkie
    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    I could, of course, talk about the domestication, bonding, pack-orientation, hierarchy and all that scientific stuff, but I already covered the important things above.

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dr. Stephen J. Krune III

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.
     
    Homophobe much, Jerk?
    , @Twinkie

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.
     
    As my eldest son said to an anti-gun protester recently (somewhat uncharacteristically as he's been taught to be a gentleman), "Molon Labe, bitch!"
  18. Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and “make up” things to do.

    Same thing with horses. Intelligence in horses is not really a feature. Best to leave the big decisions to the human.

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    • Replies: @Hard Line Realist

    Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and “make up” things to do.
     
    Ahhh, that explains a lot about Liberals and Journalists.
    , @Kevin O'Keeffe
    "Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and “make up” things to do."

    Yes, this is why monkeys, for example, make terrible pets. They have the brains to get into everything, and those same brains are what makes them bored enough to actually do so.

  19. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    A couple of general questions I’ve always had about cats and dogs are:

    – Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

    Right. We use “pussy” for example to refer to cats and feminine parts. And we say hot “dog” for phallus shaped food.

    Read More
  20. @Jon
    Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they're a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and "make up" things to do.

    Same thing with horses. Intelligence in horses is not really a feature. Best to leave the big decisions to the human.

    Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and “make up” things to do.

    Ahhh, that explains a lot about Liberals and Journalists.

    Read More
  21. @Reg Cæsar

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

     

    Thus spake "Twinkie".

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.

    Homophobe much, Jerk?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    You like hot dogs, pussy?
    , @Twinkie

    Homophobe much, Jerk?
     
    Is that a thing?

    I use the handle Twinkie, because I am ethnically Asian but my family and friends tell me that I have the soul of an Appalachian hillbilly. You know "yellow on the outside, white on the inside"?

    I didn't realize Twinkies had some sort of a homosexual connotation. They are just delicious, deep-fried.

    But then again, as a God-fearing, gun-toting, truck-driving, dog-keeping, and steak-eating red-blooded man with a large brood of children, I've never been too up to date with homosexual lingo.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Homophobe much, Jerk?

     

    If you don't want to spell out the N-word, use asterisks. Fake Greek is so pretentious.
  22. Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Then give them a job.

    Dogs ARE working animals and should be.

    For that matter, cats should work too. I don’t keep cats now, but in the past when I did, they hunted mice and kept away snakes for my family. Still, my cats and I had a mutually beneficial co-existence and there wasn’t much bonding.

    There is no freeriding in the Twinkie household.

    Read More
  23. Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room?

    Breeders chose the best-looking cats to mate. I tend to doubt it was a conscious choice, but the ones with the best posture, poise and positioning would have had an edge over the more slovenly ones.

    Lions, like many big dogs, have a naturally noble look, so we don’t notice that they also just “flop out and take a nap.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I'd guess a much, much smaller % of pet cats were bred than dogs. Cats are cheap and plentiful, and there is much less variation in terms of size and temperament among domestic cats than there is among dogs. My girlfriend got two cats for $0. The woman selling them advertised a $5 price for them, she said, just to deter research labs.

    In contrast, the dog my mother got from the Labrador rescue service cost about $80 in fees, and he's not even all Lab (my mother's guess is he's 1/4 pit bull).
  24. @Dr. Stephen J. Krune III

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.
     
    Homophobe much, Jerk?

    Homophobe much, Jerk?

    Is that a thing?

    I use the handle Twinkie, because I am ethnically Asian but my family and friends tell me that I have the soul of an Appalachian hillbilly. You know “yellow on the outside, white on the inside”?

    I didn’t realize Twinkies had some sort of a homosexual connotation. They are just delicious, deep-fried.

    But then again, as a God-fearing, gun-toting, truck-driving, dog-keeping, and steak-eating red-blooded man with a large brood of children, I’ve never been too up to date with homosexual lingo.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    I was just having fun with the contrast between your screen name and your "hillbilly" tough talk. (Sure you don't mean "redneck"? The distinction is critical in some states.)

    "Twink", gay slang for a wispy, effeminate type, comes from "twinkle-toes", and has no connection to the Hostess product, which, still, is pretty soft and squishy. Banana Moon Pies have the same color scheme, and are tougher. Lemonheads, even more so.

    Dr Kruse "III" has the gay issues, not me. Maybe it's his frustration with not having a "IV".
  25. @Reg Cæsar

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

     

    Thus spake "Twinkie".

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.

    As my eldest son said to an anti-gun protester recently (somewhat uncharacteristically as he’s been taught to be a gentleman), “Molon Labe, bitch!”

    Read More
  26. – Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room?

    Because they do.

    Read More
  27. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Cats, in my extensive experience, are intensely aware of the moods of their owners.

    They are also supremely manipulative, jealous & vindictive.

    Dogs, on the other hand, in my (much more limited) experience, seem, on the whole, to be clueless, good-natured doofuses.

    Read More
    • Replies: @duderino
    My guess is that its related to sexual strategy differences. Women are the choosers, men are the less selective, sexual opportunists. If you try to try rub an unfamiliar cat, bad things will happen. If the cat approaches you, it'll purr with pleasure from your attention. Obvious parallel to women. They don't call it pussy for nothing. Dogs, on the other hand, will take all the petting they can get.
  28. @Dr. Stephen J. Krune III

    Thus spake “Twinkie”.
     
    Homophobe much, Jerk?

    Homophobe much, Jerk?

    If you don’t want to spell out the N-word, use asterisks. Fake Greek is so pretentious.

    Read More
  29. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    1. Cats’ hind legs are longer than their forelegs, so they look a little swishy walking at a low speed, with the pelvis moving side to side.

    2. Cats are fastidious (there used to be an Internet commenter named catsrclean). Dogs, while noble, drool and smell (“doggy odor”).

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  30. @Svigor
    I think there's a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren't.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It's only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they're the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I've owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation "pussy" is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, "pussy" probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren't as easy (for men) to herd.

    What's funny to me is the level of denial among "cat people." You can say something simple and obvious like "dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they'll die for you," and cat people will take issue. I've owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven't.

    Cats aren’t all pussies. We’ve got one, who happens to be blind, and once ambushed a 100lb Labrador. He hid behind a door way, listened for the dog’s foot steps, then leapt out in front and swatted at him with his right paw. The swat landed on the dog’s shoulder and he walked past the cat.

    Read More
  31. Re feline & feminine versus canine and masculine:

    1) Cats are smaller than dogs, just like women are smaller than men.

    2) Cats are more graceful/agile.

    3) Cats generally have higher pitched voices.

    4) It’s much more noticeable when dogs fart.

    Read More
    • Replies: @candid_observer
    Cats' faces are also much more like women's faces, which are broader and have more delicate features (a big snout doesn't look terribly feminine).
  32. I have a direct line of communication between me and greyish-brown tabbies. It’s actually a little weird. It’s the closest thing to Telepathy I’ve experienced.

    I just understand greyish-brown tabbies. Other cats…love them…but the telepathy is not there.

    Also I like Masculine cats…not these Asian flat faced Gremlin Fuzzball Startrek Empty Headed things.

    United States dogs and I don’t have any line of communication…there’s just no there there behind their eyes. And I have two dogs. I have some amount of communication between me and my large dog, but there is very little mutual understanding between me and the small dog.

    Compare that to Europe where the dogs are bred really well…no puppy mill dogs….Then there are two types of dogs…Dogs that are so friendly that respond to a friendly smile. This is very confusing as just the other day I almost stole someone’s dog thinking he was lost. He was so friendly and out in the cold…just standing in front of a building. I stopped myself and said “This isn’t an American dog…this dog has been Bred to be Super Friendly and thus is not approaching me for ‘help…I’m lost and hungry’ he’s just super friendly. I went so far as taking my belt and putting it into his collar to walk him to a nearby door but he didn’t budge…so then I realized ‘Aha! He’s waiting for someone in this vicinity’ and then I just petted him and sure enough his owner came. So strange…I felt like a douchebag…but in the United States dogs dont’ act like that!

    Then in Europe there’s the super friendly dog with the High IQ. That’s some crazy shit right there. I will never forget walking to the grocery store, and this little white dog stopped and this was the conversation….

    “Hi, you’re not EUropean are you?”
    “No little dog I’m not. I’m on vacation”
    “Oh where from?”
    “The U.S.”
    “Well I hope you enjoy my country. I have to go…my owners and I are going to the grocery store”

    And yes the dog proceeded to walk into the grocery store off leash.

    Like seriously. Crazy smart dog with direct lines of communication to a human.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I thought I was the only stoner that read Steve.
  33. @Reg Cæsar

    Why do we feel house cats have some kind of aesthetic sense, for example, in terms of how they position themselves in a room?
     
    Breeders chose the best-looking cats to mate. I tend to doubt it was a conscious choice, but the ones with the best posture, poise and positioning would have had an edge over the more slovenly ones.

    Lions, like many big dogs, have a naturally noble look, so we don't notice that they also just "flop out and take a nap."

    I’d guess a much, much smaller % of pet cats were bred than dogs. Cats are cheap and plentiful, and there is much less variation in terms of size and temperament among domestic cats than there is among dogs. My girlfriend got two cats for $0. The woman selling them advertised a $5 price for them, she said, just to deter research labs.

    In contrast, the dog my mother got from the Labrador rescue service cost about $80 in fees, and he’s not even all Lab (my mother’s guess is he’s 1/4 pit bull).

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  34. @Dave Pinsen
    Re feline & feminine versus canine and masculine:

    1) Cats are smaller than dogs, just like women are smaller than men.

    2) Cats are more graceful/agile.

    3) Cats generally have higher pitched voices.

    4) It's much more noticeable when dogs fart.

    Cats’ faces are also much more like women’s faces, which are broader and have more delicate features (a big snout doesn’t look terribly feminine).

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  35. @Reg Cæsar
    How come Razib can get into the Grey Lady, and you can't?

    I suspect having a Muslim name is a big assist.

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  36. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    – Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

    What about beaver?

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  37. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Svigor
    I think there's a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren't.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It's only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they're the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I've owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation "pussy" is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, "pussy" probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren't as easy (for men) to herd.

    What's funny to me is the level of denial among "cat people." You can say something simple and obvious like "dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they'll die for you," and cat people will take issue. I've owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven't.

    One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies

    For me it was Christmas dinner in Switzerland. Tasted just like it.

    “Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/30205410

    Hundreds of thousands of Swiss people eat cat and dog meat say activists, who want the practice to be made illegal.

    A petition with 16,000 signatures has been handed to the Swiss parliament, calling for the government to stop people eating “domestic animals”.

    “Around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog,” said Tomi Tomek, founder and president of animal protection group SOS Chats Noiraigue.

    Cat appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland.

    It is often cooked for the festive season in a similar way to rabbit – with white wine and garlic.

    “We especially see it in the regions of Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern,” said Tomek.

    Dog meat goes mostly into making sausages and a fatty remedy for rheumatism.

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  38. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Different eye to face surface area ratio? In any case, altering those ratios is a common trick employed in the movies. Cameron used it to great success in Avatar to make the Na’vi look more sympathetic.

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  39. WhatEvvs [AKA "Bemused"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I’ve owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, “pussy” probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too

    Obviously, this screaming idiot never saw a barn cat in action. I have. The cat terrorized the working dogs on the farm, and kept the place clean of vermin without having to leave poisons around. Seeing what she left on the barn floor the morning after a kill was disgusting.

    As to why cats strike you as more feminine, you might change your mind if you saw a wild tom cat. There’s nothing feminine about those critturs.

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    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    There's a barn cat at my mother's farm. She's friendly to me and I'll scratch her back with a stick or a boot brush. My girlfriend tried to pick her up once. Big mistake. Got the crap scratched out of her. Not a pet.

    The barn cat is also not afraid of the dog. And because she doesn't act afraid of him, he doesn't chase her.
    , @Brutusale
    I saw a friend's cat attack a German Shepherd she thought was too close to her kittens. My mom's Maine Coon cat, the most evil looking animal I've ever seen and who I call Satan's Housecat, leaves the head of his latest kill on the patio every morning. Pussy does not apply to him; I saw him go toe-to-toe with two racoons one morning.

    I grew up in the sticks, and we had the full menagerie, as my dad was a farm boy. I appreciate cats and dogs for what they are; dogs for unconditional love and companionship, cats for that weird combination of aloofness and playfulness (when they're in the mood). Cats are also the perfect pets for busy people; you can take a 4-day vacation if you leave out enough food and water. They won't miss you, though they may leave a hairball on your pillow.

    Dogs now, though, have been bred to the ragged edge. My brother's Golden is a beautiful dog, but they had to install an electronic fence to keep him in the yard, as he would get lost 3 doors from home. HBO's Real Sports did a report on how breeding practices are destroying dogs.

    Douglas Coupland once wrote that dogs could be three times the size they are and they'd still make great pets. Cats, on the other hand, would be outlawed. They still have a bit of the veldt in them.
  40. advancedatheist [AKA "RedneckCryonicist"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @sabril

    Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?
     
    Maybe it's because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    We value cats’ affection, when they volunteer it, because cats don’t have to like us.

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  41. @Anonymous
    I'm glad for the HBD coverage, but Razib is by far the most unpleasant person in this part of the Internet. I understand if he only wants to debate people with an understanding of genetics. But he's so needlessly mean-spirited that he comes across as an unhappy person that gets his jollies from the dictatorial power he gets to exert over comments sections.

    “I’m glad for the HBD coverage, but Razib is by far the most unpleasant person in this part of the Internet. I understand if he only wants to debate people with an understanding of genetics. But he’s so needlessly mean-spirited that he comes across as an unhappy person that gets his jollies from the dictatorial power he gets to exert over comments sections.”

    I second that.

    I have my doubts about certain aspects of “HBD” and dislike the term, but I don’t think that is the root of the issue. Razib has attacked me for being too interested in the subject of the “warrior gene,” even though he briefly wrote about it long before I ever did. He can endorse eugenics and still interview famous scientists because he is not white. Now, Razib disdains behavioral genetics and has essentially joined a cult called population genetics. Famous population geneticists have said that there are “no strong candidates” for behavioral genes, and they have no idea about what they are saying because they do not study behavioral genetics. The word “genetics,” itself, is a problem because people (including NYT writers) automatically assume that geneticists are the experts on behavioral genetics. I calculated the percentages of various professions contributing to the study of the gene, MAOA. By far the largest contribution came from psychiatrists. To the extent that geneticists did contribute to the research, they were a usually a token co-author, neither the lead author nor the team authority. Basically, geneticists are anthropologists with test tubes, which explains their Scientology-like beliefs. On Twitter, one can see that Razib literally asks Kevin Mitchell for permission to believe behavioral genetics studies in the news. Mitchell has designated himself the lead troll of any behavioral genetics news story. His complaint is always the same: the sample size was too small. Behaviors like “extreme” violence will always be too rare to satisfy this complaint, as demonstrated by the latest study, which looked at every prison in the entire country of Finland. So “science” is breaking up into territories, and the population geneticists planted their flag in the media. Psychiatrists just ignore them.

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  42. @Svigor
    I think there's a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren't.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It's only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they're the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I've owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation "pussy" is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, "pussy" probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren't as easy (for men) to herd.

    What's funny to me is the level of denial among "cat people." You can say something simple and obvious like "dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they'll die for you," and cat people will take issue. I've owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven't.

    “One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies. . . . They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.”

    Not neurotic, but prudent. Cats are prey as well as predator.

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  43. Like people, dogs vary a lot by race…uh…breed. Cats less. I grew up with fine examples of both.

    I raised a German Shepherd from the time he was a pup. He was my loyal friend for fifteen years. Smart and protective, he didn’t have much in common with suburban Golden Retrievers or ghetto Pitbulls, not to mention those awful little rats carried around by “housewives” in Beverly Hills.

    Cats I know don’t decide where to sit based on aesthetics. They like warm, high places. They are hunters, and they want to survey territory. The hood of a recently driven car is favored, as is a newspaper lying on an otherwise cold kitchen countertop. Maybe it all seems pleasing to our eye because of their vantage point.

    There’s a mouser living nearby who often sits patiently on a hill on our property. We’ve seen her run suddenly from that spot and kill a mouse more than once.

    Dogs are no slobs either. Mine would carefully choose a spot that was comfortable and close to me. When camping, that meant next to a nearby tree. He would examine the place, turn around once or twice and then lie down. Indoors or out, if he ever saw me suddenly sit or lie down someplace on the ground or floor, his shepherd instinct would make him stand guard right above me.

    Biased toward dogs, I find them to be more complex than cats but highly diverse by breed and varying a lot in intelligence…just like humans.

    Maybe we equate cats with women because of the way they look and move. They are curvy in shape and graceful in motion.

    Dogs have an almost military affinity for discipline and working in groups. They are definitely more like men.

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  44. I’ve all sorts of animals over the years. Cats are by far the most interesting. There’s a broader range of personalities in cats. Dogs are pretty much what their breed says they are, but cats are more random. Watching them solve a problem is also more fun. Dogs will give up and look to the master for help. Cats will keep at it until they drop over.

    My sense with the cat aesthetic is it stems from the fact cats are not as good at reading humans as dogs. They can learn commands, but not as many as dogs. They don’t seem to have the ability to understand non-verbal signals like dogs and they lack the ability communicate with humans like dogs.

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  45. @WhatEvvs

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I’ve owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, “pussy” probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too
     
    Obviously, this screaming idiot never saw a barn cat in action. I have. The cat terrorized the working dogs on the farm, and kept the place clean of vermin without having to leave poisons around. Seeing what she left on the barn floor the morning after a kill was disgusting.

    As to why cats strike you as more feminine, you might change your mind if you saw a wild tom cat. There's nothing feminine about those critturs.

    There’s a barn cat at my mother’s farm. She’s friendly to me and I’ll scratch her back with a stick or a boot brush. My girlfriend tried to pick her up once. Big mistake. Got the crap scratched out of her. Not a pet.

    The barn cat is also not afraid of the dog. And because she doesn’t act afraid of him, he doesn’t chase her.

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  46. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Whenever the subject of the dispositions of dogs and cats comes up on Heartiste, people point out some traits of each species that run contrary to this notion. For example, cats have the following Alpha traits: aloofness, promiscuous but intermittent displays of affection, amused mastery. Dogs though are classic betas: shamelessly loyal, incurable One-itis, slavish obedience, pedestaling of the master, and obsequious concern for the master’s every whim.

    The Alphatude of cats may explain why they are the preferred mate proxy for spinsters.

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  47. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Maybe it’s because dogs are more characterized by honor and loyalty; cats are seen as more pragmatic.

    Or evil. As the Irish say before entering a house, “God save all here, except the cat.”

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  48. @Svigor
    I think there's a lot more to it than the level of domestication. Aside from lions, cats are solitary animals in the wild, while pretty much anything dog-like is a pack animal. Canines are social to begin with, and cats largely aren't.

    As for feminine, well, there are two big pet species, dogs and cats. It's only natural to decide one species is more masculine than the other, and vice-versa. Dogs are bigger, stronger, and far better work animals than cats, so they're the natural choice for the masculine role. Cats are much more fastidious about grooming than dogs are, so that reinforces the sex roles, too.

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I've owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation "pussy" is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, "pussy" probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too.

    And obviously, western civilization is patriarchal, and men find dogs straightforward to deal with, like men, while cats, like women, aren't as easy (for men) to herd.

    What's funny to me is the level of denial among "cat people." You can say something simple and obvious like "dogs are more social than cats, more loyal, they'll die for you," and cat people will take issue. I've owned both, while I suspect the cat people haven't.

    I’ve owned both too and completely disagree with you on the “pussy” meme. I was worried once because a fox was reported in the neighborhood and got home one night to catch in my headlight beams my American tabby coil then launch hard, fangs and claws drawn for blood, at the fox. Fox took off like bat from hell. No more fox troubles.

    They’re natural killers. They’re also natural torturers. They like to play with the furry things they eventually eat. They will, after the kill, carefully sculpt a lung or a heart from the carcass and deliver it to you as a tribute. It horrified my then wife, one reason she’s now a “then.” I thought it was cool The warrior celebrating the kill. Like we used to do here, a long time ago.

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    • Replies: @Brutusale
    That brings me back. When I was a kid, my brother and I watched out cat bring a mouse back to the yard to train her kittens with. The kittens would clumsily chase the mouse, and when he tried to run to daylight, momma would pounce and bring him back for more torture. We almost felt bad for the poor mouse.

    When it was finally dead, the kittens fought over who was going to take possession of the carcass, the largest one won and paraded around with it. Very cool to two young boys, a lesson that isn't taught to kids anymore.
  49. I’ve owned both cats and dogs, and love them both, but man, are they ever different.

    I have a theory about their differing appeal: We like dogs because dogs seem to reflect what is best and noblest about us. But we like cats because cats reflect our worst vices — they just do it in a way that is so cute that it allows us to laugh at ourselves.

    Watching my cats, I am endlessly fascinated by how devious and transparently selfish the little knuckleheads are. But I always find myself laughing at them, because it’s like watching a dead-serious Scorsese film acted out by adorable Muppets.

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  50. @vinteuil
    "Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?"

    Cats, in my extensive experience, are intensely aware of the moods of their owners.

    They are also supremely manipulative, jealous & vindictive.

    Dogs, on the other hand, in my (much more limited) experience, seem, on the whole, to be clueless, good-natured doofuses.

    My guess is that its related to sexual strategy differences. Women are the choosers, men are the less selective, sexual opportunists. If you try to try rub an unfamiliar cat, bad things will happen. If the cat approaches you, it’ll purr with pleasure from your attention. Obvious parallel to women. They don’t call it pussy for nothing. Dogs, on the other hand, will take all the petting they can get.

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  51. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine?”

    They tell you no, but they really mean yes

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  52. “Razib is by far the most unpleasant person in this part of the Internet.”

    Well, he certainly doesn’t suffer fools gladly. But, in that respect, I think he runs a distant second to Gregory Cochran.

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  53. Yeah, I forgot the choice of positions thing. As far as I can tell, they seek out high ground, typical predator behavior. Or at least, that’s how solitary predators who climb, like cats, do it. They ambush their prey.

    They are also supremely manipulative, jealous & vindictive.

    They’re classic sociopaths, AFAICT.

    The one positive personality trait that I’ve noticed cats have in excess of dogs is curiosity. They really do want to know about their environment. Change a room around, and a cat will come in and explore the changes. Maybe they’re just more territorial than dogs.

    Dogs’ curiosity seems to revolve around food. As soon as they establish that something isn’t food or a toy, they lose interest.

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  54. We value cats’ affection, when they volunteer it, because cats don’t have to like us.

    I’ve never seen a cat express what I’d call real affection. “Stroke me, I like it” doesn’t really qualify, IMO.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    My kitty is always ecstatically happy when I wake up or come home -- nuzzles and snuggles and purrs and purrs and purrs. Maybe she never thinks about how I feel (or even could), but she's a sweet little fluff-bucket who is always happy to have me around, and that's more than enough for me.
    , @dcite
    In a more insightful vein, you can't draw conclusions from one or two animals. Many cats express affection by rubbing their faces, especially their foreheads all over you. They bump against you with their heads, to pet a human they like. They also seem to know the future. I had a cat who came into the room the day I was going in for minor surgery, meowing and looking at me in alarm. Balthazar. I've also been told another cat, well fed, went repeatedly to the door and pulled back the curtain with his paw, while I was on the road in treacherous weather. A friend had one, again well fed so food was not the issue, just stared up at her with a loving look. A psychic--she really was. She gave me chills. I asked her--what's with the cat? Why's he just sit look up at her? The psychic said, he's just telling her he's grateful & loves her. The psychic gets messages like that from all kinds of animals, and she seems to be real. Certain info she's picked up turned out to be true after verification. One horse communicated to her where a another horse had died, and they found the horse. That sort of thing. Animals do feel, but you need to be receptive to their feelings. "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy."

    Cats are not for everybody. Dogs are not for everybody. People project on to them--cats are not "evil" Only humans are deliberately evil, and I do believe humans have perfected ways to torture. In fact, highly technological ways have been devised. In any case, most cats pounce and go for the jugular. It's over fast. Playing with prey is fairly rare. Some cats don't hunt at all if they don't need to. A friend had one who co-existed with a crippled pigeon he rescued. And no, never made a meal of it--neither the man nor the cat.


    But it's always amusing to see to see how the cat/dog discussion brings out the mirrors (men characterized as loyal and true and women not?) Huh? Cats are like females, self-serving and men not? Amazing. Thanks for the news flash. I'll file it away for later reference.

    I never owned a dog but have been around a lot of them. I like them, but am afraid of big dogs to whom I have not been properly introduced. Dogs have been known to tear cats apart. A neighbor's cat was killed in the alley by another neighbor's pet dog. Happens all the time in rural areas. Cats have good reason for their good running and climbing skills.
    Btw, the list of great men who loved cats is long and impressive, including Leonardo daVinci. I'd go on but when you're talking about cats it's hard to stop. They are a source of endless fascination.

  55. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Svigor

    We value cats’ affection, when they volunteer it, because cats don’t have to like us.
     
    I've never seen a cat express what I'd call real affection. "Stroke me, I like it" doesn't really qualify, IMO.

    My kitty is always ecstatically happy when I wake up or come home — nuzzles and snuggles and purrs and purrs and purrs. Maybe she never thinks about how I feel (or even could), but she’s a sweet little fluff-bucket who is always happy to have me around, and that’s more than enough for me.

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  56. I like to think Steve was just testing you spergs and that the only correct answer to cats vs. dogs he wanted was Who really gives a fuck

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  57. @Mr. Blank
    I've owned both cats and dogs, and love them both, but man, are they ever different.

    I have a theory about their differing appeal: We like dogs because dogs seem to reflect what is best and noblest about us. But we like cats because cats reflect our worst vices — they just do it in a way that is so cute that it allows us to laugh at ourselves.

    Watching my cats, I am endlessly fascinated by how devious and transparently selfish the little knuckleheads are. But I always find myself laughing at them, because it's like watching a dead-serious Scorsese film acted out by adorable Muppets.

    Threadwinner.

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  58. I didn’t know the Swiss ate cats, but if I ever wanted to be an obnoxious foreign NGO worker stirring up trouble in other peoples’ countries, that’s the cause I’d pick. Fight for the right of the Swiss to eat cats! I don’t particularly care for the Swiss, but I really, really don’t like cats.

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  59. Razib: Greg Cochran :: Bangladesh : white America ?

    Cats: dogs :: effeminate : man’s man ?

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  60. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    The dogs have a grudge against cats because the latter joined man after the agricultural revolution – especially after Joseph as a Freud and an economic advisor convinced the Pharaoh about the importance of grain storage.

    The dogs would have liked the hunting-gathering and pastoral life style more than sedentary agriculture.

    Talmud asks. why does the dog recognize his name but the cat does not? What makes cat stupid? the theory suggested is that it is because the cats eat mice. The mice are irrational animals because they don’t just steal food but they also do damage without gaining any benefit – like tearing textiles. The cats become stupid by eating mice and therefore a scholar studying scriptures should avoid food stuff contaminated by mice.

    I also seem to remember that Talmud explained that in the Ark sex was banned but the dog and Haam were too horny to obey …

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  61. “Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.”

    What do you think of single Heterosexual men who own a cat ?

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    What do you think of single Heterosexual men who own a cat ?
     
    Get a dog, man!

    What are you going to do, take the cat out for a good run? Go bird hunting with a cat?
  62. Lovely piece – I’d love both cats and dogs but we have an aquarium as far as lets go. Though with the next generation of children in the house (4 & counting) it may be time to get cats & dogs (I think they’d be good for immunity and I love the idea of rescuing strays from the pound).

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  63. Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?

    Because, in general and inter alia, felines are more attractive, lightly built and introverted. Cats are also like the Chinese, whereas dogs are like members of the vibrant Sub-Saharan diaspora. If they were human and tyrannous, cats would oversee the Cultural Revolution, whereas dogs would create Zimbabwe or Haiti. Or Ferguson. Me gustan los gatos. No me gustan los perros. Crimentalista que soy.

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  64. If we are allowed to ask crazy free association questions, then I will ask, why is it that cats are more like Asian people, and dogs more like European people?

    A cat reminds me of a kung fu fighter, graceful, always practicing his (lethal) moves, favoring skill over strength, often holding back, very concerned with face. Europeans and dogs… Not so much :-D

    Update: I see @MagistraMundi made a similar comparison. But I’m a dog person myself :-)

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  65. “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Because they have been bred to be ‘catty’ which is what humans who keep and breed cats like in cats; Burmese and Siamese cats are quite dog like.

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  66. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Robbie
    I have a direct line of communication between me and greyish-brown tabbies. It's actually a little weird. It's the closest thing to Telepathy I've experienced.

    I just understand greyish-brown tabbies. Other cats...love them...but the telepathy is not there.

    Also I like Masculine cats...not these Asian flat faced Gremlin Fuzzball Startrek Empty Headed things.

    United States dogs and I don't have any line of communication...there's just no there there behind their eyes. And I have two dogs. I have some amount of communication between me and my large dog, but there is very little mutual understanding between me and the small dog.

    Compare that to Europe where the dogs are bred really well...no puppy mill dogs....Then there are two types of dogs...Dogs that are so friendly that respond to a friendly smile. This is very confusing as just the other day I almost stole someone's dog thinking he was lost. He was so friendly and out in the cold...just standing in front of a building. I stopped myself and said "This isn't an American dog...this dog has been Bred to be Super Friendly and thus is not approaching me for 'help...I'm lost and hungry' he's just super friendly. I went so far as taking my belt and putting it into his collar to walk him to a nearby door but he didn't budge...so then I realized 'Aha! He's waiting for someone in this vicinity' and then I just petted him and sure enough his owner came. So strange...I felt like a douchebag...but in the United States dogs dont' act like that!

    Then in Europe there's the super friendly dog with the High IQ. That's some crazy shit right there. I will never forget walking to the grocery store, and this little white dog stopped and this was the conversation....

    "Hi, you're not EUropean are you?"
    "No little dog I'm not. I'm on vacation"
    "Oh where from?"
    "The U.S."
    "Well I hope you enjoy my country. I have to go...my owners and I are going to the grocery store"

    And yes the dog proceeded to walk into the grocery store off leash.

    Like seriously. Crazy smart dog with direct lines of communication to a human.

    I thought I was the only stoner that read Steve.

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  67. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Dogs are basically loyal unto death, friendly, straightforward, dependable, obedient and honest . all the characteristics of what the English or the Aussies would call a ‘damn good bloke’.

    Cats on the other hand are capricious and liable to turn on you in an instant and only really caring about dinner time and a warm place in which to sleep. It’s no accident that yet another oppribious animal name for a spiteful woman is a ‘cat’.

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  68. @Twinkie
    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    I could, of course, talk about the domestication, bonding, pack-orientation, hierarchy and all that scientific stuff, but I already covered the important things above.

    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    Cats are also for people who don’t like mice destroying their property. Of course cats can do some damage too, but not as much and historically most people didn’t have upholstered furniture and curtains. The best animals for cuddling are probably some of the toy dog breeds. I see that you’re partly joking though.

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  69. @WhatEvvs

    I grew up with dogs, but in recent years I’ve owned a cat, and no dogs. One thing that my cat has really driven home for me is how apt the appellation “pussy” is. Cats really are total pussies (obviously, “pussy” probably came from comparing people to cats, and not the other way around). They cower and run at the slightest provocation. I suppose this neuroticism fits with their perceived sex role, too
     
    Obviously, this screaming idiot never saw a barn cat in action. I have. The cat terrorized the working dogs on the farm, and kept the place clean of vermin without having to leave poisons around. Seeing what she left on the barn floor the morning after a kill was disgusting.

    As to why cats strike you as more feminine, you might change your mind if you saw a wild tom cat. There's nothing feminine about those critturs.

    I saw a friend’s cat attack a German Shepherd she thought was too close to her kittens. My mom’s Maine Coon cat, the most evil looking animal I’ve ever seen and who I call Satan’s Housecat, leaves the head of his latest kill on the patio every morning. Pussy does not apply to him; I saw him go toe-to-toe with two racoons one morning.

    I grew up in the sticks, and we had the full menagerie, as my dad was a farm boy. I appreciate cats and dogs for what they are; dogs for unconditional love and companionship, cats for that weird combination of aloofness and playfulness (when they’re in the mood). Cats are also the perfect pets for busy people; you can take a 4-day vacation if you leave out enough food and water. They won’t miss you, though they may leave a hairball on your pillow.

    Dogs now, though, have been bred to the ragged edge. My brother’s Golden is a beautiful dog, but they had to install an electronic fence to keep him in the yard, as he would get lost 3 doors from home. HBO’s Real Sports did a report on how breeding practices are destroying dogs.

    Douglas Coupland once wrote that dogs could be three times the size they are and they’d still make great pets. Cats, on the other hand, would be outlawed. They still have a bit of the veldt in them.

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  70. @Otto the P
    I've owned both too and completely disagree with you on the "pussy" meme. I was worried once because a fox was reported in the neighborhood and got home one night to catch in my headlight beams my American tabby coil then launch hard, fangs and claws drawn for blood, at the fox. Fox took off like bat from hell. No more fox troubles.

    They're natural killers. They're also natural torturers. They like to play with the furry things they eventually eat. They will, after the kill, carefully sculpt a lung or a heart from the carcass and deliver it to you as a tribute. It horrified my then wife, one reason she's now a "then." I thought it was cool The warrior celebrating the kill. Like we used to do here, a long time ago.

    That brings me back. When I was a kid, my brother and I watched out cat bring a mouse back to the yard to train her kittens with. The kittens would clumsily chase the mouse, and when he tried to run to daylight, momma would pounce and bring him back for more torture. We almost felt bad for the poor mouse.

    When it was finally dead, the kittens fought over who was going to take possession of the carcass, the largest one won and paraded around with it. Very cool to two young boys, a lesson that isn’t taught to kids anymore.

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  71. Like people, dogs vary a lot by race…uh…breed. Cats less.

    Yes, from what I’ve read most cats in the US are descended from Western European landraces rather than specific breeds.

    @#42 “Divine Right”

    “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Different eye to face surface area ratio?

    Yes and I also think it has a lot to do with the proportions of the nose in relation to the rest of the face. In combination with shorter limbs and a smaller body, a smaller nose looks cuter and more baby-like. With longer limbs and body, it looks more feminine. Is there any culture where having a longer nose is a feminine beauty ideal? Lions are probably the least “feline” appearing of all cats, in part because they have a relatively long face. It’s not dog-like but it’s certainly less cat-like than other species such as leopards and pumas. Of course they also have some atypical feline behavioral characteristics such as living in groups and collaborating for food and defense.
    Their chins also have a more prominent beard effect due to the greater length of the face.

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    • Replies: @J1234
    "....it has a lot to do with the proportions of the nose in relation to the rest of the face. In combination with shorter limbs and a smaller body, a smaller nose looks cuter and more baby-like. With longer limbs and body, it looks more feminine."

    ----

    It's their greater flexibility and more delicate bone structure, too. Mostly, it's their character and presence, though. Subdued, alert and graceful - cats and (idealized) women have these qualities in common. You're right, lions and tigers less so than smaller cats.

    Great article by Mr. Khan. I've always thought that the origins of the left (and other flavors of totalaritarianism) go back farther than Marx or his antecedents. Animal husbandry is more likely where the impulse to exert complete control over others began. At some point, humanity discovered that the most efficient way to control large (and potentially dangerous) mammals was to turn them into livestock. Why wouldn't we turn that very successful strategy on ourselves?

  72. @Svigor

    We value cats’ affection, when they volunteer it, because cats don’t have to like us.
     
    I've never seen a cat express what I'd call real affection. "Stroke me, I like it" doesn't really qualify, IMO.

    In a more insightful vein, you can’t draw conclusions from one or two animals. Many cats express affection by rubbing their faces, especially their foreheads all over you. They bump against you with their heads, to pet a human they like. They also seem to know the future. I had a cat who came into the room the day I was going in for minor surgery, meowing and looking at me in alarm. Balthazar. I’ve also been told another cat, well fed, went repeatedly to the door and pulled back the curtain with his paw, while I was on the road in treacherous weather. A friend had one, again well fed so food was not the issue, just stared up at her with a loving look. A psychic–she really was. She gave me chills. I asked her–what’s with the cat? Why’s he just sit look up at her? The psychic said, he’s just telling her he’s grateful & loves her. The psychic gets messages like that from all kinds of animals, and she seems to be real. Certain info she’s picked up turned out to be true after verification. One horse communicated to her where a another horse had died, and they found the horse. That sort of thing. Animals do feel, but you need to be receptive to their feelings. “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”

    Cats are not for everybody. Dogs are not for everybody. People project on to them–cats are not “evil” Only humans are deliberately evil, and I do believe humans have perfected ways to torture. In fact, highly technological ways have been devised. In any case, most cats pounce and go for the jugular. It’s over fast. Playing with prey is fairly rare. Some cats don’t hunt at all if they don’t need to. A friend had one who co-existed with a crippled pigeon he rescued. And no, never made a meal of it–neither the man nor the cat.

    But it’s always amusing to see to see how the cat/dog discussion brings out the mirrors (men characterized as loyal and true and women not?) Huh? Cats are like females, self-serving and men not? Amazing. Thanks for the news flash. I’ll file it away for later reference.

    I never owned a dog but have been around a lot of them. I like them, but am afraid of big dogs to whom I have not been properly introduced. Dogs have been known to tear cats apart. A neighbor’s cat was killed in the alley by another neighbor’s pet dog. Happens all the time in rural areas. Cats have good reason for their good running and climbing skills.
    Btw, the list of great men who loved cats is long and impressive, including Leonardo daVinci. I’d go on but when you’re talking about cats it’s hard to stop. They are a source of endless fascination.

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  73. @Twinkie
    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    I could, of course, talk about the domestication, bonding, pack-orientation, hierarchy and all that scientific stuff, but I already covered the important things above.

    To paraphrase Deng, who cares how cuddly the cat is so long as it catches mice?

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  74. @IBC

    Like people, dogs vary a lot by race…uh…breed. Cats less.
     
    Yes, from what I've read most cats in the US are descended from Western European landraces rather than specific breeds.

    @#42 "Divine Right"

    “Why do felines strike us as more feminine than canines?”

    Different eye to face surface area ratio?
     
    Yes and I also think it has a lot to do with the proportions of the nose in relation to the rest of the face. In combination with shorter limbs and a smaller body, a smaller nose looks cuter and more baby-like. With longer limbs and body, it looks more feminine. Is there any culture where having a longer nose is a feminine beauty ideal? Lions are probably the least "feline" appearing of all cats, in part because they have a relatively long face. It's not dog-like but it's certainly less cat-like than other species such as leopards and pumas. Of course they also have some atypical feline behavioral characteristics such as living in groups and collaborating for food and defense.
    Their chins also have a more prominent beard effect due to the greater length of the face.

    “….it has a lot to do with the proportions of the nose in relation to the rest of the face. In combination with shorter limbs and a smaller body, a smaller nose looks cuter and more baby-like. With longer limbs and body, it looks more feminine.”

    —-

    It’s their greater flexibility and more delicate bone structure, too. Mostly, it’s their character and presence, though. Subdued, alert and graceful – cats and (idealized) women have these qualities in common. You’re right, lions and tigers less so than smaller cats.

    Great article by Mr. Khan. I’ve always thought that the origins of the left (and other flavors of totalaritarianism) go back farther than Marx or his antecedents. Animal husbandry is more likely where the impulse to exert complete control over others began. At some point, humanity discovered that the most efficient way to control large (and potentially dangerous) mammals was to turn them into livestock. Why wouldn’t we turn that very successful strategy on ourselves?

    Read More
  75. An interesting tidbit I once read is that on the evolutionary tree, Mountain Lions are more closely related to domestic cats that they are to the other “big cats” (Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Jaguars).

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  76. Domestication at this level is not ”evolution”, is a regression. Dogs are completely dependents on their human masters. Real evolution, as the word want show us, is based on ”own merit”.

    I don’t understand this part Razib say ”little brains is related to domestication”, ”Wolves have bigger brains than dogs”. But, neoteny would not increase of encephalization??

    Neoteny = bigger brains??

    Humans evolved to cooperate, pets was selected ”to serve”, specially dogs, but, the greater difference among these species can cause this pseudo-sensation of pet subservience. Think about if aliens come to Earth and interact with humans. How they see and treat us.

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  77. In the book “Cat Sense,” John Bradshaw speculates that where and when cats have been domesticated it is likely that selection was mediated by women and children. That’s probably true, but I don’t know that it has anything to do with the social “gendering” of cats versus dogs.

    What I wonder about is whether human affection for cats is an adaptation stemming from their utility in controlling pestilence. Razib Khan may know the answer, and I look forward to reading more of his work on this topic.

    I love cats, by the way. And dogs.

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  78. Early on in “Sexual Personae,” Camille Paglia talks about cats as the Egyptian model of a “synthesis of principles,” about how the cat is “an adept of chthonian mysteries” — a feminine aspect — while also being “eye-intense,” an Apollonian, masculine characteristic. She says that “[t]he cat is telepathic — or at least thinks that it is. Many people are unnerved by its cool stare. Compared to dogs, slavishly eager to please, cats are autocrats of naked self-interest. They are both amoral and immoral, consciously breaking rules. Their ‘evil’ look at such times is no human projection: the cat may be the only animal who savors the perverse or reflects upon it.”

    She writes that the “cat fuses the Gorgon eye of appetite to the detached Apollonian eye of contemplation. The cat values invisibility, comically imagining itself undetectable as it slouches across a lawn. But it also fashionably loves to see and be seen; it is a spectator of life’s drama, amused, condescending. It is a narcissist, always adjusting its appearance. When it is disheveled, its spirits fall. Cats have a sense of pictorial composition: they station themselves symmetrically on chairs, rugs, even a sheet of paper on the floor. Cats adhere to an Apollonian metric of mathematical space. Haughty, solitary, precise, they are arbiters of elegance…”

    She calls them “poseurs” who have a taste for “ritual and bloody spectacle, conspiracy and exhibitionism.” All of that made me think of femme fatales rather than of “females” per se. But much later in her book, Paglia lays it out by writing, in the context of talking about the aesthetes and Decadents and how they are the “Androgynes of History,” that “[t]he cat too is a dandy, cold, elegant, and narcissistic…” IOW, cats are neither fully “feminine” nor “masculine”; they’re queer. They’re little gay guys done up in triangles and fur. I think she has a point (kitty-pusses even get “AIDS”!).

    Me, I adore cats. And dogs. I can’t put one above the other…

    As an aside: when I think of dandies, I think of Oscar Wilde. Have y’all heard the only existing recording of his voice? It’s a freak-out — very unexpected (at least to me). Check it out with this video, starting at the 6:28 mark: The Very Best Historic Voices

    Before shutting up, I have to say to Mr. Sailer: you are an awesome force for good in this world. Your work is very important (and very readable!). FWIW to you, know that there’s an old gammer in Hoosier-land who thinks you’re brilliant and wonderful. Thank you for what you do.

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  79. Mike Zwick [AKA "Dahinda"] says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Even though you hear about packs of wild dogs in various places, cats can revert to the wild much more easily than dogs. Feral cat populations are much higher than dogs and it reflects how cats are not as far along in domestication than dogs.

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  80. Cats’ that had poor hunting ability would not be much us for keeping vermin from scoffing all the stored grain. I don’t think cats are al thet less domesticated. Dogs are cleverer than wolves, the test that found otherwise was opening a gate after seeing a human do it, but dogs won’t do things in violation of the its master’s rules. I would note that the lions share of the reduction in the body and brain size of humans came while humans were hunter gatherers.

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  81. @Twinkie

    Homophobe much, Jerk?
     
    Is that a thing?

    I use the handle Twinkie, because I am ethnically Asian but my family and friends tell me that I have the soul of an Appalachian hillbilly. You know "yellow on the outside, white on the inside"?

    I didn't realize Twinkies had some sort of a homosexual connotation. They are just delicious, deep-fried.

    But then again, as a God-fearing, gun-toting, truck-driving, dog-keeping, and steak-eating red-blooded man with a large brood of children, I've never been too up to date with homosexual lingo.

    I was just having fun with the contrast between your screen name and your “hillbilly” tough talk. (Sure you don’t mean “redneck”? The distinction is critical in some states.)

    “Twink”, gay slang for a wispy, effeminate type, comes from “twinkle-toes”, and has no connection to the Hostess product, which, still, is pretty soft and squishy. Banana Moon Pies have the same color scheme, and are tougher. Lemonheads, even more so.

    Dr Kruse “III” has the gay issues, not me. Maybe it’s his frustration with not having a “IV”.

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    • Replies: @Twinkie

    I was just having fun with the contrast between your screen name and your “hillbilly” tough talk. (Sure you don’t mean “redneck”? The distinction is critical in some states.)
     
    If you have the misfortune to meet me and call me insulting names in person, you are going to find out it's more than talk. Even in my old age, I have no trouble putting down 99% of guys in short order. I train with professional fighters and they are the only ones who get the best of me in sparring. And even with them, if they snooze with me for a second, I catch them every so often. I trained with Olympic-level combat athletes since I was a child and what I have lost in muscle, stamina, and reaction time, I've gained in intangibles of fighting like distance-management and timing. And a big bag of tricks.

    I'm a hillbilly at heart, not a redneck. I love mountains. Of all earthly things, I love my family and friends most, but the thing I love the most after that is sitting on a mountain-top with a good rifle and a good dog, looking for animals to kill.


    “Twink”, gay slang for a wispy, effeminate type, comes from “twinkle-toes”, and has no connection to the Hostess product, which, still, is pretty soft and squishy.
     
    I know nothing about gay slangs nor do I have a reason to do so. You seem well-acquainted with it.
  82. “They are both amoral and immoral, consciously breaking rules. Their ‘evil’ look at such times is no human projection: the cat may be the only animal who savors the perverse or reflects upon it.” ”

    They may not be thinking any such thing. But even if they are — and cats differ in personality, some much more this way than others — they cannot choose. They can’t join a religion or a self-help group to help them with their moral development. Or develop more group solidarity. A stint in the marines would do them no good at all. So in that sense, they are innocent.
    I don’t know why people think cats don’t earn their keep. The food supply of all Egypt was said to depend on the prowess of cats in keeping the rats out of the silos storing grain. That is why they were worshipped, and why men would shave their eyebrows when their cat died, in mourning.
    Never did the cat species fall so low in human esteem as during the 1500-1600s when they were burned as witch familiars. There used to be a festival in France where they gathered the cats in wicker baskets and set them alight. Cats were pets even then and I can imagine the anguish of some people finding their cat gone the next day. The Polish French Queen, wife of Louis XV, put a stop to that because she loved them. Then western countries developed humane societies during the 1800s to foster decent treatment towards animals whether you loved them or not. A sign of true civilization.

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  83. @Jon
    Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they're a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and "make up" things to do.

    Same thing with horses. Intelligence in horses is not really a feature. Best to leave the big decisions to the human.

    “Too much intelligence in a dog is a bad thing, unless they’re a working animal with a job to do every day.

    Otherwise they get bored and “make up” things to do.”

    Yes, this is why monkeys, for example, make terrible pets. They have the brains to get into everything, and those same brains are what makes them bored enough to actually do so.

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  84. “Anon says:
    November 26, 2014 at 10:15 pm GMT

    From what I’ve read “pussy” replaced “coney” (i.e rabbit) as a slang name for places that Whiskey will never get to see only a few centuries ago. And come to think of it, rabbits also deal with danger by running away from it.”

    Thread winner. BTW, we still use “coney” it’s morphed into “cunny” and “cunt” see: *Oryctolagus cuniculus* . It’s also an old term for Hyraxes, which aren’t lagomorph Glires, but Paeungulate Afrotheres.

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  85. @Jefferson
    "Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies."

    What do you think of single Heterosexual men who own a cat ?

    What do you think of single Heterosexual men who own a cat ?

    Get a dog, man!

    What are you going to do, take the cat out for a good run? Go bird hunting with a cat?

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  86. @Reg Cæsar
    I was just having fun with the contrast between your screen name and your "hillbilly" tough talk. (Sure you don't mean "redneck"? The distinction is critical in some states.)

    "Twink", gay slang for a wispy, effeminate type, comes from "twinkle-toes", and has no connection to the Hostess product, which, still, is pretty soft and squishy. Banana Moon Pies have the same color scheme, and are tougher. Lemonheads, even more so.

    Dr Kruse "III" has the gay issues, not me. Maybe it's his frustration with not having a "IV".

    I was just having fun with the contrast between your screen name and your “hillbilly” tough talk. (Sure you don’t mean “redneck”? The distinction is critical in some states.)

    If you have the misfortune to meet me and call me insulting names in person, you are going to find out it’s more than talk. Even in my old age, I have no trouble putting down 99% of guys in short order. I train with professional fighters and they are the only ones who get the best of me in sparring. And even with them, if they snooze with me for a second, I catch them every so often. I trained with Olympic-level combat athletes since I was a child and what I have lost in muscle, stamina, and reaction time, I’ve gained in intangibles of fighting like distance-management and timing. And a big bag of tricks.

    I’m a hillbilly at heart, not a redneck. I love mountains. Of all earthly things, I love my family and friends most, but the thing I love the most after that is sitting on a mountain-top with a good rifle and a good dog, looking for animals to kill.

    “Twink”, gay slang for a wispy, effeminate type, comes from “twinkle-toes”, and has no connection to the Hostess product, which, still, is pretty soft and squishy.

    I know nothing about gay slangs nor do I have a reason to do so. You seem well-acquainted with it.

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  87. @Twinkie
    Real men keep dogs. Cats are for old ladies.

    Why, you ask? Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.

    I could, of course, talk about the domestication, bonding, pack-orientation, hierarchy and all that scientific stuff, but I already covered the important things above.

    “Because dogs hunt with you and help defend the homestead. Cats are just live teddy bears for women who want something to pet and cuddle.”

    Cats kill rats.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_%28cat%29

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