Before attempting to answer whether cats are sassier than dogs, it’s important to ensure we’re all on the same page, as the term sassy is a bit imprecise. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sassy has three meanings—impudent, lively, and stylish—none of which describes cats accurately.1 Also, the word even has a slightly negative connotation.
Since we’re talking about one of the most mysterious creatures on earth, we’re going to go out on a limb and create a new definition: able and more than willing to use precisely calibrated conduct to elicit desired responses in humans. In short, cats seem sassier than dogs because they use different tactics to get what they want.
Wait, Are You Saying Cats Aren’t Impudent?
Impudent technically means not just rude but somehow showing a lack of respect involving some sort of moral failure.2 But that assumes that cats are somehow required to live by human rules and standards of conduct.
They’re actually not. It’s not a violation of etiquette when cats act like cats, even when they flatulate under dinner tables, jump on grandma’s lap, or urinate on the floor when the litter box is filthy. None of these behaviors are examples of feline moral failures, as all are perfectly acceptable in the cat world.
Now You’re Going to Say Cats Aren’t Lively!
Cats are cats; some are young and lively, and others have more modest activity needs. While kittens are usually quite active, not all adult cats have the same desire to run about and wreak havoc. Bengal and Savannah cats, for instance, typically require far more physical activity than couch potatoes like Ragdoll cats.
Senior cats and those with joint conditions spend more time napping in the sun than running around chasing imaginary mice. The canine kingdom is just as diverse and includes lapdogs like Russian Toys that don’t require much activity and serious athletes like Greyhounds and Border Collies.
Cats and dogs require physical activity and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy, and we will call this one even.
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Cats Are Different From Dogs!
Cats have a different relationship with humans than dogs do. Humans and dogs have lived and worked together cooperatively for thousands of years. Cats, on the other hand, haven’t been domesticated for as long as dogs. Domesticated cats can successfully live independently without human assistance or happily indoors with their favorite people for companionship.
A Unique Relationship
Cats have primarily maintained the same cooperative but not entirely dependent relationship with humans since the beginning of domestication. Feral cats often stay close to human settlements, where they can scavenge from trash and get hold of rodents attracted to an easy dinner. Others move indoors and become companion animals, but there’s no genetic difference between pet and feral cats.
Because dogs evolved mainly to work and live with humans, the two species have a symbiotic relationship. Cats are more opportunistic and happy to do their own thing if human contact offers little interest. Cats are good at communicating their needs and are not terribly inclined to care about human rules and limits without motivation, such as kisses, cuddles, or treats.
Independence and Reliance on Humans
Cats behave in ways that make sense and feel good to them. Remember that affection is the only thing people can give these incredible animals that cats can’t arrange for themselves. Indoor cats rely on their human companions for food, fun, and to create a feline-friendly environment. Pet cats turn to their favorite people for love and affection, even mourning the loss of those with whom they’ve formed deep bonds.
Cats take measures to ensure their needs are met, like sitting on laptop keyboards for warmth or sleeping on your head when they want a bit of cozy companionship and comfort. Dogs appear more cooperative because they’ve evolved to enjoy working with humans to pursue mutual goals, and it goes without saying that dogs love their human companions deeply.
Cats aren’t necessarily sassy; they just have different ways of going through life than dogs. Dogs have evolved over millennia to work and live with people, while cats have primarily adapted to live with people or independently, depending on the circumstances and what works best for them.
Many dogs are happy to do what their human wants as long as they understand the behavior that’s expected of them. Cats, on the other hand, choose whether or not to interact based on their needs. Of course, cats and dogs have individual personalities, and some dogs may seem sassier than some cats. Does your cat seem sassy?
Featured Image Credit: Yan Laurichesse, Unsplash