This one has raged for years. Are cats better than dogs? It appears this little spat has now been settled, and it’s bad news for all you caninophiles. Felix domesticus knocks Canis lupus familiaris into the proverbial cocked hat.

The research was carried out by a very respectable institution, the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Say what you like about the Swiss but their precision is the stuff of legend, so I tend to believe Dr Daniele Silvestro’s findings. He’s pretty high up in the university’s Department of Ecology and Evolution, so knows what he’s talking about, and if you find online pictures of him he’s pleasingly boffinlike in appearance.

Dogs evolved from wolves in North America about 40 million years ago, and within a mere 20M years (a blink of an eye in geological terms) there were more than 30 species. Unfortunately for the poor pooches, this was about the time of the advent of The Killing Felids (sorry but the pun was irresistible) and it all went badly wrong.

The pesky varmints competed for food, and happened to be better hunters than some of the dog species, so the boffinhead reckons. Many dog species hunted like wolves, running fast and hunting prey that way. However, some species were slackers, and preferred the less energetic stalking route. Pretty much like cats do, they’d sneak up on their prey.

It’s just too bad that the cats were better at this than were the dogs. Why? Good question. Now we get into real pointyhead territory. The good doctor attributes this to cats having retractable claws, and dogs lacking them. Apparently this means that ittybitty kitty claws don’t wear down, so are better suited for the stalk’n’pounce approach, while big rufftuff dogs wear their claws down to the point where they’re not quite up to the job.

This didn’t matter before the arrival of the dreaded moggies, but they swanned over the landbridge from Asia and set about doing what cats do best and began annoying the rest of the world. In this case they set about the job by competing for food with the dogs, and outgunning the ones that were stalkers. Cats are devious little buggers at the best of times, and a hungry cat is not an animal you want to mess with, as you will know if your domestic barbarian has ever snatched something off your red-hot barbecue. The poor doggies wouldn’t have stood an earthly.

There you have it. Argument settled. Job done. Stand easy.

Advertisements