Why can’t you use canine psychology on cats?

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The primary difference pet owners must understand is that dogs are pack animals and cats are solitary predators. A dog wants to please his alpha or pack leader. That’s you. A cat, while perfectly capable of being loyal, affectionate, and companionable, is his own boss.

These complex, interesting little creatures literally have no genetic imperative to please. They do not do tricks, because they will not waste their time on anything that does not, in terms of feline logic, translate as a clear benefit to them.

They’re quite happy to watch you throw a ball or a wadded up piece of paper, but they’re not going to go racing after it unless they see merit in doing so. The real reason cats agree to play with the toys we devise? It’s combat training. A catnip mouse today, the real thing tomorrow.

Additionally, cats do not experience shame. A dog will literally come and apologize and try to get back in your good graces. If the cat wakes you up at 3 a.m. wanting food and you curse and throw things but feed him? He doesn’t care what you call him. He got what he wanted. The food.

“Disciplining” cats doesn’t work because they are so literal, you usually wind up reinforcing a behavior you don’t want. The best way to interact with these independent little souls is to adopt a spirit of compromise and learn all you can about them and how they think. A cat may not be obedient, but he’ll never be boring.

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