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Why Dogs Chase Cats

Why do most dogs chase, but rarely injure or kill, cats? Because dogs have become evolved creatures, and we have come to consider chasing to be merely a 'sport.'

For centuries, 'cat chasing' has stood as the leading international canine sport; and, for most dogs, killing cats, is gauche and definitely 'not cool.' This timeless ritual is practiced in the same way in virtually every country and continent throughout the world. Many older and experienced cats secretly enjoy this game and, indeed, play it well.

For centuries we have watched the human species compete in races, play football, hoard and collect all kinds of material possessions, and happily indulge in the ultimately deadly sports of hunting and fishing.

Speaking from my own experience, many males of the human species proudly play the role of "hunter-gatherers! They hunt because it gets them out of the house, into their favorite pickup trucks and out into the woods. Do you see a plan forming here? For them, it is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. They hunt deer, bear, raccoon, game birds, possum, squirrel, rabbit; and, between hunting seasons, they just 'plink.' Not just animals are driven by the hunting instinct.

Let's face it; the human race is largely made up of carnivores, and unlike lions and tigers, the human species has earned the reputation for being the most dangerous animal on our planet. You folks didn't earn that notoriety by picking blueberries

There is, however, a double standard at work here. In the animal world, for instance, if a fox gets 'lucky' and nabs a chicken, the event will be reported in the local newspapers tomorrow, and the fox's days will be numbered. In the human world, however, if Tyson Farms or Perdue Poultry slaughters 10,000 chickens on a given day, it is not newsworthy because chickens are merely considered a vital link in the human food chain.

Last month, when a small pack of gray wolves in west Texas chased down a steer and partially consumed it, thousands of dollars were spent tracking the wolves down and disposing of them. Indian trackers were brought all the way from North Dakota, police and news helicopters took to the sky, and it was truly front page news until those wolves were killed. I will never figure out how they knew they got the right wolves, but, of course, I wasn't there for the confession. What would I know anyway? When Swift & Company slaughters and processes a thousand head of cattle, Kroger and A&P send their ads to the local newpapers and get ready to receive the new shipment; just another day in 'bovine paradise.'

Let's get back to the subject of cats. We canines have managed to rise above all this carnage, and we have refined the art of 'cat chasing' to a more civilized sport with far more humane consequences (pardon the pun). We dogs don't wish our furry feline friends any permanent harm.

Just look at the sport from a dog's viewpoint. Just imagine the excitement that comes with the initial eye contact, the escalating tension, the frantic chase, the look of abject fear in kitty's eyes followed by the surprised expression on kitty's face when we suddenly abort the chase and lope away saying "gotcha! Just kidding!" This is like a good boxing or wrestling match in the human venue. The crowd doesn't want to see the competitors kill each other; they want to see who is the best and most skillful of the two opponents.

Kick it up a notch, take it another step further, and imagine the consequences of this game as would relate to the sport of 'bull fighting.' Does it get to bask at a private table in the cantina and reminisce over the day's excitement? I don't think so! "El Toro" is probably just being dragged into a dog food plant as the Toreador lifts his mug of Dos Equis and drinks to the day's contest.

And so, over the years, the traditional cat chase has evolved into a level of refinement not unlike the 'catch and release' fishing ritual practiced by more experienced and enlightened anglers.

We see no 'payoff' in killing the object of our 'sport.'as you do in bull fighting. I don't think cats would taste very good anyway. Did you ever notice that we rarely, if ever, totally chew up and destroy our "doggy chew toys?' For many of us, this is a conscious decision just like that of humans who never swallow their gum; we never want the fun to end.

If we truly wanted to harm our little feline friends, it would certainly be an easy chore. These pearly whites of ours weren't just made for rendering soup bones out on the front lawn. Except for the unfortunate incidents that occur when dogs accidentally kill or injure their prey in the course of the sport, most of us have no intention of harming the object of the game. Most of us are bright enough to exercise some degree of restraint. It's just a game, for heavens sake!

Kitty, on the other hand, plays for keeps. Can you imagine your tabby catching a little mouse or mole, batting it around for awhile, and then letting it scramble away to safety? Not at all likely; kitty is a hunter, thus, a heartless adversary.

So now you know why we dogs chase cats. As a result of all of this evolved behaviou, things really get boring around Faded Glory Farm with no cats around to chase. Guess it's time to go inside and terrorize Spook, Isabel's pet crow. Gotta dance!

© 2010-2011 David Johnson, All Rights Reserved