(NaturalNews) The age-old battle between cat lovers and dog lovers over which creature is preferable as a house pet just got a little more interesting. A new book by a prominent feline researcher who has been studying cats for over 30 years reveals what many of us have suspected about the true nature of cats: that they view us humans as oversized, lazy mama cats and, perhaps not surprisingly, generally view humans as something other than companions.
Dr. John Bradshaw delivers these and other potentially controversial nuggets of wisdom about feline behavior in his new book, Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. While not intended to bash the little fur balls, which the American Veterinary Medical Association says are owned by some 36 million American households, Cat Sense may be a reality check for understanding how cats operate.
According to research cited throughout the book, cats as we currently know them are not completely domesticated as is commonly believed. They live in a perpetual state of partial domestication, says Dr. Bradshaw, and are also partially feral to one degree or another. This helps explain why some cats suddenly lash out against guests or family friends, or sometimes even against their owners.
Cats also see humans much differently than dogs do, according to the science. While dogs have an innate sense of companionship that bonds them to their owners as protectors and loyal friends, cats view humans much more superfluously. Sure, cats are capable of bonding with their owners, at least on some level, but they typically do not make the best companions.
"[C]ats treat humans as though they were the mama cat," CBS reports. "[W]hen a cat rubs against you with its tail straight in the air, it is checking to make sure you are not hostile... and if a cat 'kneads' you, that's how it used to get milk from its mother."
Cats are natural predators that lack many canine traits associated with companionship, loyalty
In other words, cats are probably best described as relationally opportunistic, in that they view humans as either a source of food or as potential enemies, an innate hostility that can at least be tempered when a cat becomes used to or tolerant of its owner. Much of what is viewed as affection from cats is more "perfunctory," to borrow the words of CBS Philly writer Chelsea Karnash.
"Sure, cats are as cute as the next fuzzy mammal and kittens are all-out adorable, but felines enjoy hunting and killing things, and they don't seem to care much for humans," writes Karnash. "Unlike the 'I'll-love-you-and-be-your-best-friend-forever-no-matter-what!' enthusiasm you get from a dog, cats always seem to be giving me the side eye, and in turn, I usually feel the need to give it right back."
But it is not totally cats' fault, admits Dr. Bradshaw. Since cats are natural predators, efforts throughout the past several centuries to domesticate them are probably doing more harm than good, both for the cats themselves and their hopeful owners. Cats perceive domestication protocols as hostile to their own nature, which adds a little more to the conversation as to why they typically differ so much from dogs.
"[C]ats now face possibly more hostility than at any time during the last two centuries," writes Dr. Bradshaw.