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Science Shows that Dogs Are Sycophants and Cats Are Con Artists

Illustration for article titled Science Shows that Dogs Are Sycophants and Cats Are Con Artists

Today in science comes some news you probably intuited unless you're allergic to animals and live a life bereft of fur and cuddles or with an unreasonably expensive Goldendoodle — dogs are manipulable while cats, dastardly creatures, are manipulative. Sounds about right, doesn't it?

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According to Discover Magazine, dogs and cats have gotten really good at reading people, albeit in their own peculiar ways. Dogs are easily influenced human actions or what a new study calls "ostensive cues." These are the same cues — body language, gazes — an inarticulate infant picks up on when it's trying to figure out what the world's all about. Researchers working on this new study figured out that dogs, true sycophants that they are, make their decisions based on ostensive cues from people, preferring, in one instance, a plate of food preferred by a person even in that plate has less food than another.

Cats, however, run a different game on their doting human companions. In a paper titled, "The cry embedded in the purr," researchers explain different purrs cats employ to get people to do things for them. Certain purrs, they found, sound so urgent, grating, and generally pitiful that people will do anything — including pouring out dish after dish of Fancy Feast — to make it stop. The "solicitation purr" is inharmonic to boot, meaning that even veteran cat owners who think they know all of their cat's wiles are susceptible to the distressing sound.

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Moral of the story: if you aren't down for all the espionage-style mind games super domesticated animals will play with you, get a sloth or one of those sort-of-domesticated foxes they're having so much trouble with in Russia.

Dogs Are Manipulable, Cats Are Manipulative [Discover]

Image via Eric Isselée/Shutterstock

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DISCUSSION

My cat injured his leg and as dutiful human slaves we took him back and forth to the vet to get a couple different casts put on to make sure he healed properly.

The vet said his leg was fine but he was still limping. Then one day when he didn't know I was watching him he was walking around completely limp-free. When I made my presence known he immediately started fake limping his little heart out. This went on for a couple weeks after he was completely healed.

I'm not sure if it was attention he was going for, but you could see the wheels in his little con artist mind going. :)