By now we've all seen a video that's gone viral about the mysterious hold cats have over dogs.
One blogger thinks this is due to a decline of intelligence in the modern dog.
And while it’s true that there has been a decline in the physical and emotional constitution of dogs (see the chapter: “The Late, Great Doberman Pinscher” in “Your Dog Is Your Mirror”); when a dog is stymied by a cat this has nothing to do with dog smarts----as if the modern dog is being bred with a duller intellect than dogs of yesteryear.
What we see in these vignettes is the prey-predator dynamic---the energetic logic of all emotional interactions--and this has been going on between dogs and cats for as long as there have been cats and dogs, in fact it has going on between animals for as long as there have been animals. The hold that cats have over dogs reveals a universal code in animal consciousness, an emotional module which organizes all emotional interactions and relationships. The Prey (in this case the cat) Controls the Predator (in this case the dog). This is a systems’ logic based on universal emotional values and the principle of emotional conductivity. It’s simply the way the animal mind is put together to implement a network consciousness. Interactions are not the reconciliation of individuated and rational points of view.
The animal mind constructs a view of reality so that the Negative-(predatory aspect)-Grants-Access-to-the-Positive (preyful aspect). Interactions and learning transpire within and upon this template. Thus, if a cat is in control of its body (preyful aspect), its attention (predatory aspect) which is the focal beam from which it will direct its force, will exert emotional leverage over the dog. In this way the cat’s negative (attention directing force) is denying access to the cat’s positive. Eventually the cat will grant the dog access to its body in order to increase its own sensual enjoyment of its body, not to mention the sensual feedback it gets from pawing and maw-ing the dog’s body. And if the cat adds in a dose of prey-like spice during the course of their interaction, i.e. writhing upside down, strategically retreating to a safe place from where it will launch a new advance, then this is its predatory aspect “tuning” the dog’s attraction to the cat until the cat is getting the sensual kind of feedback it craves.
The predatory aspect is physically manifested as the eyes whereas the preyful aspect is physically manifested by anything to do with the body. Even plant eating animals have a predatory aspect since they must focus their attention and direct their force in order to live, and even meat eating animals have a preyful aspect since they do indeed have a body. Cats have more prey energy than dogs as it takes less pressure to put them to flight, they are smaller and they act more prey-like. Yet they have a pronounced predatory aspect because they are of course prolific hunters. Therefore if they can remain grounded in their body (via subliminal beam of attention on their gut, i.e. remain “collected”) when in the presence of a dog, they can perform emotional jujitsu and toss them like an Akido master.
Interactions elaborate beyond the simple prey/predator duality to become almost infinitely complex because these two basic polarities can evolve into their more complex derivatives: the traits of Direct--Indirect---Active---Reactive in order to implement more complex manners of absorbing, combining and directing force. Within a given frame of reference, if one individual is Direct and Active, the other MUST complement it by being Indirect and Reactive. These traits are how animals are able to align and synchronize emotionally so that they can become entrained around common objects of attraction. In the videos the cats are basically just looking intently at the dog. The cats are in load/overload emotional mode, not doing anything active about the dog, only reacting to the dog. The cat enjoys emotional leverage because it has a highly arousing prey-like form which makes the dog feel OPEN (this is why I say the cat is occupying the prey polarity) but then when this is held in the dog’s mind in juxtaposition to the cat’s predatory aspect, this makes the dog feel vulnerable and hence its sheepish attitude. The dog needs to complement the cat. Because the dog is going by feel whereas the cat by instinct, the dog MUST fit the cat and itself into the group dynamic, a systems logic as opposed to an individuated rational logic.
From the dog’s point of view, the cat’s predatory aspect is reflecting the emotion/stress it is projecting onto the cat, right back at it. The cat isn’t giving off any prey vibration. It's motionless, directing its attention at the dog. So the dog projects a “ping” and gets back a ping, and this is experienced as a mounting state of pressure. In terms of the systems’ logic, the cat is being Reactive and the dog Active as it is the dog who is active about moving through the hall or down the stairs to get to the owner. But the cat is also being Direct and this is the rub in the system’s logic. The dog is attracted to the owner through Active/Direct as it tries to go from point A to point B in a straight line. The dog would like to shift to Indirect as indicated by its averted gaze, soft body and facial expressions and rounded eyes (in equal/opposite response to cats keenly focused gaze), but the space is too narrow and this prevents it from giving the cat a wider berth and satisfy the system logic that includes it and the cat. Therefore the dog feels blocked. The resistance the dog experiences from being compressed with the cat in the same frame of reference, brings deeper and deeper physical memories to the surface and we see the dog acting out these early litter experiences via barking, pawing, play bows. The dog is stuck until in a few cases, its owner gets it excited enough to abandon the frame of reference that includes the cat and induces the dog to become wholly fixated on the owner. In that case there is a different group dynamic and the dog is free to act directly and pass the cat.
While the language of a system logic may be clunky, I trust one can see that it is a far more parsimonious interpretation of complex interactions such as this, and is the only manner of analysis that does not insert a human chronological rational interpretation.
<<< BTW: The exact same dynamic is going on when a dog is given a biscuit but rather than eating it, takes up station in a strategic position with the treat positioned between his paws and thus blocks another dog's access to a room or passage through a hall. >>>