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Hey Matt:

Why is it that a dog stays firm and muscular when you pick him up while a cat goes all loose and floppy and sags to the bottom like the stuff in a lava lamp?

—Larry, Imperial Beach

Dog people will say it’s because dogs are proud, strong, noble creatures. That even the meekest chihuahua possesses an inner strength that no sneaking cat will ever match. Cat fanciers might offer that dogs are excitable buffoons and uncoordinated oafs, quivering and drooling at the slightest provocation. One thing is certain: compared to dogs, cats are lazy. They sleep about 16 hours per day (twice as much as humans) and, while they’re capable of astounding feats of athleticism, they seldom exert themselves. When you pick up a cat, he’s thinking, Do I need to move?

It’s not his fault. Wild cats are all ambush predators who capture prey with explosive speed and the element of surprise. They’re natural sprinters who can catch just about anything, provided the chase is over in a minute or less. Such dynamic power doesn’t come cheap, however, so cats spend much of their time resting and being lazy, lazy sprinters.

Contrast that to dogs. They’re descended from wolves, who hunt by exhaustion. Because of this, most dogs are endurance runners and have a lot more energy than cats; they just lack the top speed.

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