Difference between dogs and cats: origin and behavior

There is a lot of information and speculation about the difference between dogs and cats. Read here how the pet species can be distinguished from each other in terms of origin and behavior.

Dog and cat, a difference like day and night?  – shutterstock / Chendongshan

Dog and cat, a difference like day and night? – shutterstock / Chendongshan

Just between us: There aren’t as many differences between dogs and cats as it might seem at first glance. Dogs and cats are companions and members of the family in many ways, both bringing equal joy to their owners’ lives. However, the two animal species have different origins, which is partly reflected in different instinctive behavior.

Difference in origin of dog and cat

The dog is descended from the wolf and was domesticated around 80,000 years ago. Its relatives include the wolf, the African wild dog, the fox, the dingo, the jackal and the coyote. The superfamily is called canids, which is divided into: dogs, bears, walruses, eared seals, dog seals, red pandas, skunks (skunks), small bears and martens. Canines are distinguished from felines by their longer but weaker skulls, less developed canines, and increased number of rear molars.

The cat is descended from the African wildcat and domestication only began around 4,000 years ago. The related animal species include the cheetah, the lynx, the ocelot, the puma or the European forest cat. The superfamily of cat-like can be found in the further systematics. These include the surviving families of cats, civets, linsangs, hyenas, mongooses, Madagascan predators, and leopard scooters.

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Biology and general: difference between dog and cat

While dogs are omnivores, cats are scientifically carnivores. The dog is a pack animal and hunts during the day, while cats are solitary hunters and catch prey at dusk and at night. The hierarchy in cat groups is more complex than in dog packs, but cats are not loners, as is often wrongly assumed. Even when it comes to the most powerful sense, there is a crucial difference between the animal species: the sense of smell in the dog is to be mentioned, the sense of hearing and sight in the cat.

The number of chromosomes is also different: the dog has 78, the house tiger has 38. The situation is similar with the teeth: while the four-legged friend has 42 teeth, the cat’s mouth only accommodates 30. When it comes to life expectancy, there is at least one Small dog breeds and cats have one thing in common: both pets live an average of 15 to 18 years. Unfortunately, medium-sized and large dog breeds don’t live that long on average. Other differences: There are around 400 dog breeds, but only around 100 cat breeds. Nevertheless, the cats in this country are clearly in the majority: In Germany, around twelve million cats delight the owner’s heart, while around seven million dogs sweeten everyday life.

Difference between dog and cat in behavior

Various scientific works and empirical experiments have dealt with the difference in the behavior of Germans’ favorite pets. Some findings are particularly interesting. In unsettling, new situations – for example in unfamiliar rooms – dogs tend to orientate themselves in the direction of their human, who offers them security.

Cats, on the other hand, look for a retreat in space that gives them a safe place. They prefer elevated, cave-like places – whether a human is nearby or not. A behavior that explains why cats often have a problem with cat flaps: behind them is a space that the animal often finds uncontrollable and dangerous.

There is also a big difference between dogs and cats when it comes to the way their tails are held. While a raised tail in a four-legged friend signals a high state of excitement, which tends to alarm fellow cats, this pose of the tail in kittens is more of an invitation to approach. However, beware of a cat whose tail is wagging – it may be alert or ready to attack. A tail-wagging dog isn’t always friendly, but most of the time.

Difference dog and cat: Is a cat less time-consuming?

Finally, let’s get rid of a prejudice that has become a kind of firm belief. So it is said again and again that cats as pets require far less time than dogs. This calculation may work out if you only have the necessary walks with the dog on the list. But cats also need affection, care, training and activity. In particular, cats that are not outdoors and stay within their own four walls need people who deal creatively and actively with their needs. These certainly include a high level of activity for the house cat. Because boredom means a high stress factor for such cats, which can lead to auto-aggression, other behavioral problems and depression.

You may also be interested in these topics about cats and dogs:

Why there is a dog tax but no cat tax

Are there cat breeds that dogs are particularly fond of?

Why cats groom themselves and dogs don’t

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