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The Domestication Of Cats And Dogs

(credit:  Joe Eid/GettyImages)

(credit: Joe Eid/GettyImages)

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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Dogs and cats have long since shared our homes with us, often alongside each other and, in most cases, in peace and harmony. Actually, almost half of all our domesticated cats in the US share a home with a canine – living side by side, despite their ancestral differences. That’s quite a feat, actually, considering their distinctly different ancestries and social order that uniquely defines them.

Regardless of the breed, our domesticated dog (canis familiaris) is essentially a descendent of the wolf, the grey wolf in particular. Being purely pack animals, they are social animals, adhering to a social hierarchy and structural order to survive. The leader and members of their pack are critical to them and to their survival.

Cats, alternately, need not adhere to a particular social order but there is type of hierarchy among descendants of larger cats. The domesticated cat is a keen and effective hunter, a skill that was always crucial for survival. Although more independent by nature, cats are certainly not solitary animals, as may have been perceived. Their interaction is more dependent upon behavior, territory and treatment, whereas the dog is dependent upon life in the pack.

Although there may be differences, what both species have in common is that both are warm-blooded mammals capable of devotion, affection and forming close bonds with people and other animals.