correction, cats do those behaviours plenty... well not the panting part!
I love those pics James!
People, cats aren't freethinkers; they're not thinkers. They're generally more independent than dogs purely through an accident of evolution.
Some here have been describing dogs as "codependent" (hey, the '80s called and they want their pop psychology back) but what you might want to think about is the likelihood that humans and dogs have co-evolved. We have quite clearly affected their evolution and they've been with us long enough that it seems somewhat reasonable to think that they've also affected our evolution.
I've had cats and I've loved them dearly. I've had fewer dogs but I've found them to be better companions. If you prefer to take it easy and to not be required to do much about the relationship between you and your animal companion, then a cat is probably better for you. Or maybe a goldfish.
My dog needs to be taken for regular walks and runs; a cat has no such requirement. Consequently, I'm in much better physical condition with a dog than without one. My dog loves to run beside me as I peddle my mountain bike through trails in the forest and it's a great feeling for me when she's running beside me on a straight stretch -- not behind, not in front, but by my side.
In contradiction of the caricatures presented by some cat advocates, most dogs are not selfless, slobbering slaves (they're not all Golden Retrievers -- some are Pugs, German Shepherds, and so on). They have their independent needs and desires. However, they also have loyalty and social instincts and they balance those two aspects of themselves, largely in accordance with the knowledge and wisdom of their humans.
Cats have dignity? Can you say "anthropomorphism"? I knew you could!
Just to be clear... none of our dogs are the result of "evolution"! They are the result of intense intentional genetic manipulation by its masters, 2-3000 y/a for utility, for the past 200 for pure esthetics.
It's an interesting conclusion that humans have put less effort into manipulating cat nature vs dog nature. Humans who've manipulated dogs have been more manipulative, humans who've bred cats have been more respectful of cat nature.
Re: need for affection... I recently housesat an elderly cat for 2 weeks. Upon the owners' return they felt he was years younger... why do you think? Because they were no longer giving him AFFECTION... since they'd bred a newborn human baby, and dropped off on their kitty affection. Our cats need our love just as much as our dogs, they simply express their discontent in a different way, through depression, reduced grooming, gifts... The need for affection can be discreet, or demanding and slobbery... and barkey... guess I needed to include those idiot mini dog breeds who require very talented humans to have any decency of a life at all!
Genetically speaking, what humans have done to dogs is pretty sad.
Oh, it's definitely evolution. It's not by means of natural selection but it is "change across successive generations in the inherited characteristics of biological populations". By definition, it's evolution.
That breeders have developed far greater variety in dogs than in cats is simply because it's much easier to do this with dogs than with cats because of the way their genes are expressed and regulated. I doubt that it's got anything to do with respect.
You entirely forgot to read the rest of the Wikipedia page! Evolution is not defined by a single sentence! sigh.
Now scroll down a little on that page and read the mechanisms... You will find that humans messing with life is not one of evolution's mechanisms. Evolution is a long term natural process. Now take Homo sapiens sapiens for example, we have not really evolved in the past 60,000 years. About 5000 y/a a few northern Europeans developed the ability to digest milk past infancy. But other than that we aren't evolving, since we no longer have any selective pressures affecting our survival since some people's sense of morality says H.sapiens life is so precious, and more precious than all else, that every single individual, no matter how unfit, MUST live.
Maybe if climate change causes a catastrophic germ upsurge, maybe then H.sapiens will evolve under a changed environment.
Just keeping the science of biology real...
You will find that humans messing with life is not one of evolution's mechanisms.
The article doesn't mention human intervention in breeding as a mechanism of evolution, neither including it nor excluding it.
We are part of the enviroment. We are natural beings. I don't see that human-directed change across generations can reasonably be excluded from evolution.
Additionally, it seems likely that must of what originally turned wolves into dogs was not the result of intentional breeding but a consequence of interactions between the humans and wolves/dogs in which the animals which were most suited to life with humans stayed with humans and had offspring which were also more suited to life with humans, and so on.
I recall reading about an experiment which points to what I think is probably one of the important differences between wolves and dogs. It involved two groups of animals, one made up of dogs and the other of wolves that had been raised as dogs. Each group was presented with a puzzle that needed to be solved in order to get a food reward. Both groups were pretty good at solving the puzzle. Next, the puzzle was made unsolvable and the two groups were tested again. Individuals in each group eventually stopped trying and looked to the humans for help but the dogs did this significantly sooner than the wolves and did it for a longer duration.
If you're interested, you can read more about that here.
My guess is that this difference is a consequence of selection processes early in the domestication of dogs which were probably not a result of intentional selection. If so, then I'd say it's evolution even by your more narrow interpretation of the meaning of that word.
Ah hah! Vindication! ;-)
There is no real difference in the genetic processes underlying artificial and natural selection, and the concept of artificial selection was used by Charles Darwin as an illustration of the wider process of natural selection. The selection process is termed "artificial" when human preferences or influences have a significant effect on the evolution of a particular population or species. Indeed, many evolutionary biologists view domestication as a type of natural selection and adaptive change that occurs as organisms are brought under the control of human beings.
(Bold emphasis mine)
A number of famous dictators are/were cat-haters. Not hard to see why. As an atheist, I admire above all the cat's independence. I don't respect the dog's slobbering affection. I hate when a dog jumps on me (lost some friends that way). Our cat is extremely affectionate. She can hang around with us, but she often keeps her distance, preferring to watch everything from a high shelf perch, and has places where she can hide from us in our own house.
It does seem to be a trend, in society, and here on this discussion. Most people who state they prefer dogs over cats, for whatever reasons... usually they are stating falseties about cats, such as "uncaring", too "independent", too "food driven only", bla bla bla. People who have cats who display such characteristics, I'd say it says more about the owners treatment of the cat, rather than the cat itself. Such cats as cat "dissers" describe... I find to be extremely rare. :)
I've had a number of cats and dogs and like them both. Animals bring a great deal to life. I regret the periods when I couldn't keep a cat or a dog.
For the last fifteen years I've had dogs, first a Great Dane/Shepherd mix who was very intelligent and now what the vet says is a Portuguese Mountain Dog, Baxter, whom I got from the animal shelter. He had been wounded in the side with a pellet gun and abused, so he was very shy. One family had returned him because he wouldn't come into the house. Baxter was near the end of his allowed time at the shelter and I could not refuse to take him. We've had him nearly four years and he is a perfect gentleman, quiet, very affectionate, and obedient—and a definite leaner.