Monday, April 15, 2019

"Cats: Companions in Life" from the legacy publisher of the same name

Life Magazine offers a new coffee table book about one of our favorite companions, edited by J. I. Baker, “Cats: Companions in Life”, 96 pages, glossy, paper, heavily illustrated.

The main sections are “Feline Behavior”, “Rulers of the House”, “The Truth about Kittens”, and “Cats v. Dogs”.

The second chapter covers ancient history 8000 years ago when man started inventing agriculture and then having housing. Cans moved in and helped eliminate the mice, and stayed around and domesticated themselves, and got smaller.

The book has a comparison of the intelligence of dogs and cats.  Dogs may have more brain neurons, but the cat cerebral cortex may have more folds and actual surface, like humans.  When cats “downsized” they kept their intelligence.

Dogs are born tribal, and cats are born as individualists – except for lions, which are genetically similar to tigers (can cross mate) but look different because of their social groupings (a good example or race in wild animals). Foxes, while biologically closer to dogs, behave more like cats.

Dogs may know more words and commands, but cats may be better at solving problems on their own, because they have to do so to hunt alone.  That’s why among mammals, carnivores and omnivores (primates) have to be smart.

When I was in a second floor apartment in Dallas with outdoor balcony access, a cat adopted me. He would recognize the sound of my car as I drove up.  He could disappear for a few days, and return to the right apartment to check up on me. He would offer me mice he had caught. He definitely knew who he was as an individual, and he knew who I was.  Sometimes he slept at the foot of the bed.  If he wanted to go outside, he would claw the pillow and mew.  I had the feeling that Timmy knew a lot about a wild world I had no  concept of, and he thought that I was supposed to go out and learn to hunt.
In the IQ test in the video, Cosmos (the Cat) beats Milo (the dog) 5-3, but the test seemed skewed to wild solitary hunting skills that Milo didn’t need.

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