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?

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.

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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