Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin battle it out to find out whether cats or dogs are the better animal. The final round looks at whether cats and dogs really love us.
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One question divides animal lovers like no other -
which is best, a cat or a dog?
Hmm. Most people tend to favour one or the other,
so it can lead to some pretty heated arguments.
So, we're going to pit our beloved pets against each other
to try and settle the debate once and for all.
Liz and I are going head-to-head too
and I'm firmly on the side of the dogs.
Which means I'm flying the flag for cats!
Last time, cats took the lead in the first round of our epic battle,
as we tested our pets' intelligence,
their senses and their physical prowess.
Tonight, though, we're once again drawing on ground-breaking research
from around the world to compare our favourite animals
for the very first time.
By the end of the show, we'll know who comes out on top, cats or dogs.
This time, we're looking at which animal is easier to train.
-How well do they understand us?
-And how well do we understand them?
Which one is best for our stress?
And who is more independent? Which animal is the "lone ranger"?
And finally, we use brand-new science to try and find out
the answer to the ultimate question.
Do our cats and dogs really love us?
And if so, which loves us the most?
Let the battle continue.
And may the best pet win.
-The best pet win?
-It's clearly going to be cats.
Here's the best pet. Look at this! Black poodle.
And to battle this out, we're basing ourselves here in Cambridgeshire,
at one of the country's leading veterinary referral centres
and it's one that specialises in cats and dogs.
The 200-strong staff here
look after thousands of cats and dogs every year.
They're experts in animal behaviour and physiology. They've seen it all.
'And we'll be consulting scientists from around the world,
'but rest assured, none of our tests will cause any harm to the animals.
'We'll also reveal more results from our unique survey of 1,000 people
'who own both a cat and a dog
'to find out which animal you thought was best.'
To start off with, I'm going to lay an ace.
I'm going to start strong.
You see, from my point of view,
one of the things that makes the dog the better pet is trainability.
'David Templar is one of the UK's top dog trainers.'
DOG WHISTLE BLOWS
'He's been training and breeding gun dogs for over 30 years
'and today, I'm going to put him and his dogs to the test.'
I say - a finely-dressed man with an equally fine pack of dogs.
-Thank you. Hi, Chris.
-How are you?
-Very well, very well.
-Who have we got here, then?
These are all award-winning dogs.
Joe is the Labrador, he's a winning Labrador of ours.
-Gwendolyn here is a field trials champion.
You've trained these dogs to an exceptional standard,
but surely not every dog is trainable?
Any dog you could ever have, it can be trained.
OK, so if I went and randomly selected one of your puppies...
If I gave you just half an hour,
what could you do with one of those animals?
No previous training?
Hopefully, it will walk to heel and it will sit.
Well, it's certainly a challenge, but I'm up for it.
'These are some of David's puppies
'and they've not yet had any training at all.'
So, my task is to pick just one of these.
OK, what about this one here? Come on.
-Come on, then.
-So, this is the one. Here we go.
-Thank you, Chris.
-Now, I'm absolutely ruthless.
So, half an hour and it's going to start the minute you leave the pen.
Well, let's see what we can do.
Oh, over we go. Hello, we'd better name you.
Right, Chris, would you like to name it?
-How about "Max"?
Max. OK, come on. Right, you're down to 29 minutes, mate.
29 minutes? Let's go. Thank you.
Let's go, little puppy-wuppy. Let's go and see what we can do.
Oh, come on then, come on then! Let's have a bit of fun.
You've got a new name, called Max.
'David needs to teach Max to walk to heel, to sit
'and to wear a lead for the first time in his life.
'After a few minutes of play, training begins.'
'Amazingly, David is training Max without using any treats -
'just some love and attention is enough.'
Good boy. Hey, hey, hey!
Max, Max? Sit. Sit... Good boy.
Yeah, you're nearly ready now.
Chris, it's done!
You haven't had your full half an hour.
-How long have we got?
-You've got another...seven minutes.
You clearly don't need it. You're brimming with confidence.
-Obviously, we're now a little bit tired,
-because we've had that 20 minutes, a bit of pressure...
-No, hold on.
I don't need excuses. I need a demonstration.
-Let's have a look.
-Let's see what we can do.
-Hello, Maxie. Heel, heel, heel.
Heel, good lad. Heel.
Good lad. A little puppy.
There you go, Chris.
I'm impressed. I'm impressed.
For a very small puppy, that's pretty good.
-He's on the way.
-He's on the way.
-A future champion.
-Could well be.
'Of course, this is just the beginning.
'It's going to take many months to fully train Max.
'And a dog's incredible trainability
'is key to their amazing relationship with us,
'which began some 35,000 years ago.
'And over the millennia,
'we've selectively bred the most trainable dogs,
'resulting in a remarkable partnership.
'The same traits that make them so good at working with us
'now make them wonderful pets.'
'Cats, on the other hand,
'only began their domestication 10,000 years ago
'and we haven't bred them for trainability.'
But we did ask owners if they thought you could train a cat.
37% said no.
58% thought it was possible.
Let's see if they're right.
'Cosmos lives in Wiltshire with his owner, Dr Sarah Ellis.
'After a hard day out on the prowl, dinner is served.
'After dinner, he likes nothing more than relaxing on the sofa
'with his favourite TV show.'
The way that they experience and understand their world
is far more sophisticated than I would have imagined.
'No, no, no. That won't do.
I've learned that it's the animal senses that shut...
Could find a way for cats... 'That's more like it.'
..to maintain their independent, wild side
and live happier lives alongside us.
'Clearly, Cosmos has been very well trained by Sarah,
'so I've come to find out how it's done.'
I have never seen a cat do that before. That's amazing!
So Sarah, how do you go about training a cat?
Much the same way you do as a dog.
Any behaviour that we want that's desirable, we reward.
It has a positive consequence
and that's going to make that behaviour
much more likely to happen again.
Any behaviour that we don't want to happen, we simply ignore.
And that's exactly how dogs learn too.
So, what kind of rewards work well for cats?
Is it only food?
I would say it's probably the most universal for cats.
But there are other things. One being toys.
If we play with toys in the right way so that it mimics hunting,
that can also be a really good motivating reward.
To what extent are you limited
by the animal's intrinsic natural behaviours,
when it comes to getting them to do things for you?
We can train them to do anything
that they are physically capable to do, by simply
rewarding small approximations of that final end goal behaviour.
OK, so then, how does it work in practice?
You taught Cosmos how to change the channels on the remote.
Can you show me how you teach him to do that?
Yeah, sure. So, I just basically present this to him
and initially if he just sniffed it, I would reward that.
And then I moved it slightly higher up and slightly out of his reach,
so that he was more inclined to reach it with his paw.
Good. There you go.
And then, when he did that, I only rewarded that behaviour.
I didn't reward the earlier behaviours
and then I brought it back down again, knowing now that he knew
only to paw it until I could place it on the sofa and he would paw it.
It's those successive approximations of your final desired behaviour.
You were great, Cosmos.
High five. Oh!
I've got to say, I'm very, very surprised
that cats can be trained in the same way as dogs,
but then to train a cat,
you're going to need an enormous amount of time,
a tremendous amount of patience and the right sort of cat.
And whatever the animal, to train it, you're going to need motivation.
Motivation is needed for all sorts of success in life.
Now, there's some brand-new science that's been done
which explains not only why dogs are easy to be trained,
but why they're keen to be trained.
'I went to Hungary to find out more.
'At the Family Dog lab in Budapest, Attila Andics and Marta Gacsi
'have trained dogs to take part in an extraordinary experiment.'
This is Apatch and aside from being an extraordinarily cute little dog,
he's also a remarkable dog,
because he's been taking part in some ground-breaking research
which has revealed just why dogs are so trainable.
But in order to do that, he's had to learn something quite extraordinary.
Now, he belongs to Marta, one of the scientists here and luckily,
she's come along today so that he can repeat some of this experiment.
Come on, then.
'Amazingly, Attila and Marta have trained dogs
'to voluntarily lie still in a brain scanner.'
Now, I've seen dogs trained to do some remarkable things before,
but nothing like this.
Look at that. He's jumped up on the bed of the scanner.
He's laying perfectly still...
and he's got headphones on.
'Marta stays in the scanner room with Apatch,
'whilst Attila and I watch from the control room.'
Now, we can start the scanning.
So, Attila, tell me what's going to be going on inside the scanner?
We are measuring the activity in the dog brain
to see how it reacts to praises.
Dogs hear voice recordings through headphones of people saying
"good boy" and other praise words.
'Apatch is listening to praise,
'while the brain scanner measures neural activity inside his brain.
'The experiment lasts eight minutes and Apatch lies perfectly still.
'Any more than 3mm of movement would ruin the data.'
Here's a question. If you say, "Good boy, good boy" to a dog,
they normally just start wagging their tail
-and that's going to spoil things as well.
-Oh, it's hard.
Yeah, it's hard for them. We train them not to wag their tail.
So, he's been trained NOT to wag his tail?
-Yeah, they're trained not...
-It's a hell of a dog you've got there.
'The results are still unpublished,
'but the scans show that when Apatch hears the praise words,
'the reward regions of his brain are activated.'
Whenever a dog is praised,
the dog will activate this so-called "reward centre".
These are very ancient brain regions of not only dogs,
but in many animals.
And they typically respond to food, drink, sex...
These are the regions which somehow signal to the individual that,
hey, something pleasurable just happened.
OK. So, is it fair to say then,
that when we praise our dogs, we are making them happy with that praise?
Yeah, I think this is actually a proof that these dogs
find verbal praise pleasurable,
just as they would enjoy a food treat.
These results are hugely significant,
because they reveal that dogs get pleasure from our praise.
So in turn, they are motivated to please us
and it's that which makes them so eminently trainable.
'In our survey, many of you were right
'when you said that cats could be trained,
'but the science shows that pooches win paws down on trainability.'
Dogs are understandably easier to train than cats,
but we all know what can happen
if you don't take the time to train your dog.
'Who could forget Britain's least obedient dog?'
When relationships go wrong between dogs and their owners,
one of the principal reasons is because at some stage,
communication has broken down.
Communication in all its forms can go a long way
towards building great relationships with your pets.
But how well do you think you can understand yours?
In our survey of joint cat and dog owners, we asked
which one they thought communicated with them the best -
the cat or the dog.
OK, and here are the results.
11% of you said cats. I am DEEPLY disappointed with that.
11%... 78% said it was their dogs
and I think that's quite telling.
'So, let's see what the science says about all of this.
'Our next battle cry is all about communication.'
This is one of four dog wards here in the clinic
and although many of these animals are on the road to recovery,
DOGS BARK as you can hear,
they're not having any trouble communicating whatsoever.
-And you listen to this all day?
-Yeah, we certainly do.
-Can you talk dog?
-We generally understand what they're trying to tell us.
They have a range of different barks.
I've got two dogs and I can identify which dog is which by their barks.
-And also, what they're trying to say.
What's interesting about the barking, though,
is that wolves only bark for about 3% of their vocalisations.
Dogs spend a lot more time barking because we understand that -
it's part of a process of what we call co-evolution.
We both evolve to understand one another,
so that we can properly communicate.
Yeah! What about that, Liz?
Can your cats properly communicate like that?
Can you talk cat, Liz?
Yes, all very impressive, but the thing is,
cats have also developed a way of communicating specifically with us.
Adult wild cats rarely meow, but domestic cats meow a lot
and this seems to be mainly for our benefit
and the acoustic properties of the meow have changed over time.
Domestic meows are shorter
and of higher frequency than the wild cat meow.
-Listen to this wild cat...
-HARSH WILD CAT MEOW
Our domestic cat meows sound a lot more pleasant to the human ear.
DOMESTIC CAT MEOWS
And recent research has revealed
that cat owners can understand their cats
much better than you might think.
'I've come to The Black Cat pub in Chesham
'to test out cat communication skills
'with the help of our top cat whisperer.'
I'm meeting Sarah Ellis and a group of cat owners here
to find out to what extent we might be able to understand cat meows -
and the pub's very own black cat is here as well,
so we're enlisting him to take part in our little experiment.
-I take it this is THE black cat?
-This is the cat. This is Rambo.
-How old is Rambo?
-And is he very vocal?
He knows what he wants and he gets what he wants when he wants it.
-..Without having to meow too much for it?
-Yeah... No, no.
'Our human volunteers have been recording their cats meowing
-'in a variety of situations.
-CAT MEOWS SOFTLY
'While they're watching their owner preparing food...
'when they're negotiating a barrier...
'when they want attention from their owner
'and when their owner is withholding food.'
OK, so the first thing we're going to do is try and figure out
whether YOU can recognise your own cat,
from a selection of cat meows.
So when you think you hear your cat, just shout out, "That's my cat".
Here we go.
-I'll go for Cookie.
-I think that's Dinah.
I'm pretty sure that's Rambo.
CAT MEOWS I think that's mine.
I think that's my cat.
Hand up immediately.
You guys are good. Well done.
Well done, everybody. That was really interesting.
You do know your cats. There's no question.
'Everyone was able to recognise their cat's meow,
'but now, we're going to see if they can recognise
'the context of the different meows.'
-That's hard. I'll go for food preparation.
Sounds like he wants to go out.
I would say that's him wanting food - food preparation.
-I would hazard a guess at attention.
Yeah, that's negotiating a barrier.
OK. Seem pretty sure of yourself there, Rhana.
I know my cat.
Right, so I think it's the moment we've all been waiting for.
-Please give them their results.
We have a group that did very, very well and that was you three here.
You were 100%. Well done, guys.
I'm afraid you guys didn't do as well as this group,
but I think you actually ended up
with a harder bunch of cats, by chance.
So Sarah, how does our little experiment
marry with the research that you've carried out?
When we look at cat meows, there isn't a universal language.
Each individual cat seems to have
its own set of distinct vocalisations.
By living with the cat, they're able to learn
each individual cat's own vocalisations
and also, the cat will be able to try out different meows
and find out which one works best for that owner.
OK, so the owner learns to become more familiar with the cat's meows
and the cat's meows are changing and becoming more and more specific
to that owner, because of the owner's behaviour.
Yeah. It's an incredibly clever species.
It's able to manipulate us and to live alongside us
to really get what it wants and have the best of life.
Communication of course is a two-way process,
so how well do THEY understand us?
I'm almost lost for words.
I mean, dogs have got this in the bag, you know, hands down.
Cats don't even know their own name.
Ah, not true, Chris. Take a look at this.
'Scientists in Japan carried out a simple experiment'
RESEARCHER SPEAKS JAPANESE
'to see if cats recognised their own name.'
'Cats do know their name, even if they don't come running every time.
'But you can train them to come, especially if food is involved.'
-That was a brilliant entrance.
-It's Super Cat! He's amazing.
I know! It was amazing. But getting back to the serious stuff.
In our last programme,
we proved that dogs are the more intelligent animal...
-We didn't, really...
they have a better understanding of their humans.
We've even come across a dog
that knows as many words as a two-year-old.
'Yeah, Gable the border collie is ten years old
'and lives in Loughborough with his owner, Sally.
'Dr Emile van der Zee from the University of Lincoln
'has been studying Gable's remarkable abilities.
'To test him, Sally and Emile are laying out
'a large selection of his toys.'
Gabe! Pig, get pig.
Good boy. Get spacehopper.
'Gable knows the name of about 150 toys.'
It started when he was a young puppy.
I just used to say, well, go and get your ball,
or go and get your toy and I suddenly began to realise,
he actually was going and getting what I was asking him to do.
So I thought, I'll try him on one that's hidden upstairs.
So I said to him, Gable, get Kong.
Before I knew it, he had appeared with this toy.
So then, I just thought, I'll see what happens if I teach him toys
and, you know, see how many he can remember.
So, the game really started from there.
Right, what shall we get this time? Get Henrietta.
I contacted Lincoln University,
seeing whether or not they might be interested in him.
It was very exciting for us,
because it's wonderful to see how dogs learn words and we discovered
that he knew about 45 different words and it's quite amazing to see
that he now knows about 150 words and that is very much comparable
to what a child knows when they are sort of two years old.
I think Gable is quite unique.
There are only four to five other dogs in the whole world
that we know that know so many words.
My guess would be that dogs in general
understand up to about ten words,
but I'm sure that if people try at home
that it is possible to train your dogs and to know more words.
'Remarkably, Emile discovered that Gable is also able to work out
'the names of new objects without being taught.'
So what we're going to do now... There are five objects over there
that Gable already knows the name for
and we're going to put a new object over there
and then Sally will sound out a new name and let's see what happens.
Will Gable be able to work out
that the new name refers to the new toy -
the one that he's never seen before?
Get Chris Packham.
-Yeah! Well done.
-Yeah, look at that.
Good lad, good lad!
Bobby, this is Chris. Chris!
Yeah. Perhaps we're some ways from teaching cats
as many words as Gable knows.
But you know what? It's not just about verbal communication.
'Visual communication also plays a huge part
'in how we relate to our cats.
'And these cats have even been taught to understand sign language.'
That is, I have to say, truly wonderful -
but I can't let Liz have it all her own way.
I'm here with Rosie and Horus.
And Rosie, Horus is completely deaf, isn't he?
Yep, he's completely deaf.
But you've trained him to respond to a large number of hand commands.
Yeah. The last time I counted,
-he knows about 60 different hand signals.
Can we have a look at some of the signals, then?
-Some of the things that you've taught him.
So, we have a "sit". Good boy. And then "stand up". Good boy.
Good boy, down.
-Yeah, good boy!
Well, he's a remarkable dog.
And I've got to say, you must be a remarkable trainer.
'So far in our communication round, it's very close.
'Dogs may be ahead by a whisker,
'but they've got an unfair advantage.'
Dogs are social animals and we've bred them to obey our every command.
Cats, on the other hand, are solitary animals
and we haven't domesticated them for anywhere near as long.
So, the fact that they can understand us at all
-is pretty remarkable.
-You're absolutely right,
but there is one other key relationship factor
that we have to think about when it comes to making the best pet -
and that is emotional understanding.
'I've come to the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna
'to meet Professor Ludwig Huber and a very clever dog called Mikhail.'
Ludwig, like many dog owners,
I think that my dogs can discriminate my facial expressions
and you've come up with quite a neat and sophisticated test
to see if this is the case. How does it work?
First of all, we showed him an angry face next to a happy face
and as you can see, only half of the face.
In this case, it's the lower part
and the dog is trained to touch with the nose one of those faces.
Either the happy or the angry.
'Mikhail has been trained to touch the smiling half face to get a treat.'
Most of the dogs, not all...
11 of 18, are able to make this discrimination.
'But Ludwig now ups the ante
'to test that the dogs are really recognising the emotion in the face
'and not just a simpler cue, like the smile.
'Can he correctly pick the happy eyes,
'even though he was only trained with the lower half of the face?
'Incredibly, Mikhail appears to be able
'to still pick the correct emotion from the eyes alone.'
The dogs that we tested...
all of them were significantly above chance
when they first saw the other half.
In the range of 70-80% correct.
70-80%? That's more than convincing.
You see, I feel vindicated as a dog owner.
I thought all along
that they would be able to distinguish my facial expressions -
to tell when I was happy and sad.
But the next big question is, of course,
do they actually understand what those emotions mean?
That's the tricky one.
'And to find out, I'm meeting Professor Adam Miklosi
'at the Family Dog lab in Budapest.'
Tell me about this experiment we're going to look at now, then.
Here we try to understand how
and whether dogs are understanding human emotions.
So, in order to do that, we put two bottles on the floor,
one at each side and ask the owner to display
either a happy emotion behind one of them
and a disgusting emotion behind the other one -
and ask the dog to retrieve one of them, whichever he likes.
And if dogs understand the human emotion,
they should retrieve the happy bottle.
-OK, let's see how he gets on.
Off he goes.
-Oh, it's going good.
This is the happy emotion. He likes it.
And that's the disgusting one. That's really disgusting.
-He's gone straight for the happy bottle.
What was the overall result that you found?
Out of testing more than 120 dogs in this experiment,
we found that dogs retrieved over 66% the happy object
that was really preferred by the owner.
This experiment seems to suggest
that dogs can certainly read our emotions -
maybe even understand them,
especially when we're being happy.
Now, your cats...
Your cats can't do that, can they?
No, no, no, no.
A cat can't do that, can it? They can't, no.
So, are dogs in a league of their own
when it comes to reading our faces?
Well, a new study published by Oakland University in Michigan
has shown that when cat owners smile,
their cats respond more positively and spend more time with them.
That's not bad for a solitary animal
that's been living alongside us for a relatively short time.
In our survey,
78% of you thought that dogs were the better communicators.
But the latest science shows that when it comes to communicating,
cats are catching up with canines.
So, we're calling it a draw.
This mutual understanding makes for a close relationship with our pets,
which can be a great source of stress relief.
So, that's what we're going to test next.
In our survey of those people that have both cats and dogs,
we asked them, which of the two gave them the greatest stress relief?
49% said it was the dogs
and 35% said it was the cats.
I'll say no more. I'll let the great British public
and the statistics do all the talking.
Yeah, but we wanted to take it a little bit further than that,
so we carried out a little competition to find out
which of the cat or dog are better at calming frayed nerves
and we called it, obviously, "Stress Factor". Sorry.
'Back at Lincoln University, a group of animal lovers have volunteered
'to take part in a scientific experiment with a terrifying twist.
'They know that cats and dogs are involved,
'but what they don't know
'is that we're going to put them in a very stressful situation.'
Our participants are going to come in here, the pet room,
and a third of them will be given a kitten.
A third of them will be given a puppy
and the last third, unfortunately, won't be given anything,
because we've got to have a control group.
They're then going to be asked to open the envelope over there,
which will reveal that they've got to sing in front of us -
and that should induce quite an amount of stress.
I'm going to leave Rio here with Emma
and I'm going to join the judging panel.
There you go, my lovely.
-Hi, Nigel. I'm Emma, this is George.
'The question is, will cats and dogs reduce our singers' stress response?
'And if so, which will reduce it more?
'First of all, we measure
'our volunteers' blood pressure and heart rate
'while they're in blissful ignorance of what is about to come.
'Then, they're left to play with their new friends.
'The cat lovers play with the kitten,
'while the dog lovers play with the puppy
'and our controls are left to chat with Emma.'
-I'm from Liverpool, originally.
-Yeah, you said.
-I probably said!
'It's then time to find out what they have to do next.'
"In 60 seconds, you have to sing a song...
"..In front of a panel of people.
-"Your performance will be filmed...
-"..For a TV documentary."
Are you kidding?
Oh, no, I can't...
Do I really have to sing?
'As the tension mounts,
'we take another blood pressure and heart rate reading.
'The discovery that they have to sing for us
'should make them both shoot up.
'But will having a kitten or a puppy reduce this stress response?'
Hi, there. Welcome to the Stress Factor.
'Finally, it's time to sing for our highly discerning panel.
'Dr Sophie Hall, Professor Daniel Mills and yours truly.'
OK, are you ready?
# You ain't nothing but a hound dog
# Crying all the time... #
'A third of our participants faced the music alone...'
# They said you was high class... #
'..while the others have a kitten or a puppy for moral support.
# Well, that was just a lie. #
# Pussy cat, pussy cat...
# I love you. Yes...
# Yes, I do... #
-# You ain't nothing but a hound dog... #
-Cat's running away.
# Crying all the time...
# You ain't never caught a rabbit
# You ain't no friend of mine. #
That looked really stressful, I've got to say - very, very stressful.
It was, but the most important thing now is to find out
how the cat or the dog affected those stress levels.
Let's talk about the control group first.
This is our control group, before they knew about the task.
-So then, this is what happened when they were told about the task.
So, you can see an increase of about 14% in heart rate
and an increase of about 9% in blood pressure.
I'm not surprised. That would have been my idea of hell.
I think my heart would have leapt out of my chest, not just gone up by 14%.
You should have gotten Chris to do it.
You really missed a trick there.
So then, let's take a look at when they were with a puppy.
So, at this point, they didn't know what the task was going to be
and then they find out about the task
and we have an increase of nearly 7% in heart rate -
half as much as what the control group is.
And then, a decrease in blood pressure by nearly 6%.
Don't look at me like that!
-6% decrease! What about that? In the presence of a puppy.
I'm not surprised, my money was on the puppy.
-But let's talk about the kitten now.
-So, again, this is before they knew about the task...
And then, they find out about the task
and about the same as the puppies.
-About the same, about the same?
-About the same, look.
No, 2.2 versus 5.7.
Yes, but is that statistically significant?
I'm afraid not, based on the sample size.
There you go. There you go!
So, our survey said that 49% of people thought
dogs would be better at reducing stress levels,
but this shows that cats and dogs
are pretty much the same at doing that.
Yes, doesn't seem to be much difference.
Both have a beneficial effect.
And it also ties in with other research that suggests that
people who have cats and dogs suffer less from cardiovascular disease.
So, in the long term, it's good for those pet owners
when it comes to reducing stress.
'So, cats and dogs are both fantastic stress busters.'
That's one more point each.
But are we always good for them?
Next, we're going to test just how independent our pets are.
'I want to know if a dog's eagerness to please us
'is always a good thing, so I went to Lincoln University to find out.'
Domestication seems to have shaped an already very strong tendency
in dogs to use social cues and it's made for amenable and devoted pets.
But it also means that, at times,
dogs can be a little bit too dependent on us,
even if the outcome isn't beneficial to them.
And that's what we're going to be testing out
with Professor Daniel Mills and his team today.
Are you ready, Maya? You ready? Come on.
Daniel, what's going on in this room today?
It's a very simple little set-up.
All we do is we have two plates and one of them's
got a handful of food and the other one's just got one piece of food.
But the person makes a real fuss over the one piece of food
and then we see whether or not the cat or the dog
prefers to go where the food is or whether they want to go
where the owner's making a fuss.
Well, I'd imagine, both animals, as they're food motivated,
would go for the plate with all the food.
You might imagine that, but let's wait and see.
'The dogs are up first.'
Here we go.
Next, who's ready to go?
'They go to the plate with less food just because their owner
'is paying attention to it.
'They're so influenced by us that it overrides their own self-interest.'
They just go for whatever the owner's interested in.
There we go, see?
Well, that was a clear case, wasn't it?
All the dogs went straight for the owner.
-And I am quite surprised at that
because dogs will eat constantly unless they're stopped.
Oh, yeah, a lot of the dogs are scavengers,
but from a dog's point of view, if you're interested in it,
I'm interested in it and that's a real feature of dogs.
If we're paying attention to something,
that becomes the most important thing in the world to them.
You know, the common mistake is somebody says to their dog,
"Leave that thing alone!" And, of course,
they're bringing attention to it.
So, the dog says, "Oh, I'd better go and investigate that."
So we've got to be very wary about what
we might inadvertently draw their attention to.
OK. I'm really curious to see what the cats do now.
Yeah, I am too cos we've done some sort of preliminary work,
but we've never done exactly this study.
-So, we don't know how it's going to go. So, let's see.
There we go. Ignores the owner, goes for the food.
'Despite their owner's efforts, the cats go for the plate
'with more food.'
That was utterly fascinating.
What an eye-opener.
Such different behaviour between these two species.
Yeah, yeah, really neat, you know.
The cat makes the decision and says,
"Actually, I'll look after myself first,
"I'll go for the food and yeah, I like my owner,
"but actually there's food there - that's my priority."
So, does that boil down to the fact that it's a solitary animal that was
pretty much left to its own devices during the domestication process?
Very different to how dogs are domesticated.
Yeah. So, we've bred dogs to really focus on us and that's what...
Because we've got to work with them in a lot of situations,
but the downside is that can lead them into trouble.
Whereas, in the cats, when we domesticated them,
they really came in from the cold to go and hunt for the rats and mice
and we don't tell them which rat or mouse we want killed.
We just want them out of the grain store.
And as a result, they think for themselves and that, for me,
makes for a really interesting pet.
So, a dog's ability to read and obey our signals
can be counterproductive at times.
I know, I know, but the thing is we're talking about petability here
and what this shows is that dogs have evolved to be closer to humans.
So, in my mind, that makes them the better pet.
Yes, but there is a potential downside.
'You see, dogs' closeness to us can make them prone
'to suffering separation anxiety.
'So, I decided to investigate this with my own dogs.'
Meet Itchy and Scratchy, my two black poodles.
They're 12 and a half years old now,
though I've had them since they were little six-week-old puppies
and you know, I'm not ashamed to say to you that
I love these dogs as much as I love my stepdaughter or my partner.
They're a MASSIVE part of my life.
I wouldn't normally leave them on their own, but today,
in the interest of science, that's exactly what I am going to do.
Cos I want to see if they miss me as much as I miss them.
Come on, boys. Come on.
While I've been out with the poods, Professor Daniel Mills
has been setting up cameras all around my house,
so we can find out if Itchy and Scratchy
suffer from separation anxiety.
-Hello, Dan. How are you?
-Good to see you.
'We're also going to take some physiological measures
'to quantify their stress levels.
'First, we collect some saliva,
'so we can measure the levels of the stress hormone - cortisol.
'Next, we measure their ear temperature,
'which Daniel's latest research shows is an indicator of stress.'
When they're happy, then often the left ear seems to be warmer
than the right ear, and you can see that the left ear's
actually about a degree higher than the right ear at the moment.
-Happy dogs at the moment.
'Lastly, we're putting on heart rate monitors
'to measure their pulse.
'We want to see if all of these measures of stress increase
'when I leave the house.
'So, now it's time for me to pretend to pack up and go.'
This is the bit they really don't like.
Chris Packham packing.
So, I'll just make sure that they see that I've got
all my normal things. There's my wash bag, look at that.
You know that when the binoculars go,
the man who looks at birds is going.
'The dogs might look calm here, but their hearts are racing
'at over 225 beats a minute -
'a sure sign that they're stressed by the impending separation.'
Sorry, boys. I know, I know.
This is where it really sinks in. See you later.
See you later and you. See you later, too.
Look at the looks on their faces.
All right, let's get this over quick.
OK, you guys better step out and I'll lock up.
Here we are.
Oh, boys. No, no, no, you can't come. You can't come.
You can't come, seriously.
I feel mean, I feel mean.
There's a good scientific reason for this, of course.
See you, boys, goodbye!
When I shut the door, their heart rate spikes again.
'I join Daniel to watch them on the monitor.
'I've never actually seen what happens after I've gone,
'so I am genuinely curious...
I feel really bad, honestly.
This seems terrible to me. Absolutely terrible.
Why is it, Dan, that they get so upset like this?
It can be that they're just frustrated
and they want to get out, but we're not seeing that here.
And the other option is that it's the relationship with you
and they're so dependent on you for their safety and security,
when you go it's really hard.
It's like a mother leaving her baby, to be honest, and
-from that baby's point of view, it's a life-and-death situation.
I mean, I don't leave them often.
I normally leave them with a lady that looks after then.
So, this situation is rare.
I knew it would be bad. I didn't think it would be quite this bad,
-to be quite honest with you.
I can assure you, I've seen a lot worse than this.
-So, now I should go back in.
-See you in a minute.
'It's now been half an hour.
'Time to get the rest of the data.'
THEY BARK Boys!
Hello, boys. Hello!
Oh, I'm a terrible person!
Come on in.
I know. Oh, I know, I know, I know.
'I quickly take another saliva sample to see
'if being left alone by me has made the cortisol go up...'
'and we measure their ear temperate again too.'
I know. What a rotten person I was. I was pretending.
I wasn't even gone. I was just outside!
Ha-ha! But we've collected loads of data, yes.
Back at the clinic, it's now been analysed.
I've got to say, I always knew that Itchy and Scratchy got stressed
when I left, but I didn't think it would be THAT bad.
It was terrible.
I felt terrible and, to that end, I have honestly only left them
on their own twice since that.
I'll do everything I can to minimise it.
But I've got to say, the scientist in me still wants to know
the results and Butty Villiers here,
head of the Path Lab, has got the cortisol results.
Yes, Chris. Well, I'm afraid for Itchy we didn't get enough saliva,
but for Scratchy we have got some results.
So this here is the level before the separation at 64
and then afterwards when you came back and got the second sample,
it went up to 166 and that is a significant increase.
There is a bit of variation in dogs throughout the day, but not
this much and so that really does correspond to a stress response.
-That's down to stress?
-Yes, exactly, yes.
-What about the ears? We were looking at those as well.
We found that after separation, the temperature in the right ear
was higher than the left ear and the right side of the brain
is where you have more activity in negative emotional states and,
according to Daniel's latest ongoing work, it's a sign of distress.
-So that hot ear...
-Was showing mental distress?
-Indeed it was.
So we've got metabolic and mental distress in my poodles
-when I've gone out the door.
Not at all happy about this, but then again,
I shouldn't be surprised really because studies have shown that
up to 70% of dogs at some point in their lives
show separation anxiety.
I have to say, although I'm batting for the dogs here,
this is a bit of a downside.
They're so dependent upon us that sometimes we upset them.
The vast majority of people want to give their pets
as much love and care as possible.
But most dogs demand almost the same amount of attention
as a small child does
and cats are just not as demanding
and that can make them much easier pets to keep.
But what do cats get up to when they're alone?
Bob lives in Bristol with his owner, Karen, who works full time.
But when Karen goes out, Bob isn't pining at home.
Like many cats, he has his own independent life.
So Karen, tell me when you first got Bob?
Bob moved in about four years ago.
I came home one day and he was standing in the kitchen
and he just never left. That was it.
So you didn't acquire Bob, Bob acquired you.
Bob acquired me. That's Bob's style.
Bob chooses who he wants to live with.
How much do you know about what Bob gets up to when you're at work?
I think he wanders a lot round Bristol.
But it's kind of OK because Bob's character suits my lifestyle.
So I'll go out during the day and Bob goes out during the day and I'll
come home at night and I know that he's been completely entertained,
that he'll have probably gone into half a dozen houses.
He pimps his way around Bristol.
I mean it's like... It is like having a philandering husband.
He... He's here most of the time, but I know I'm not exclusive.
And actually that ... I'm cool with that. That's fine.
I wouldn't be cool if it were the husband.
OK, Karen. What we're going to do is attach this little tracker
and cat camera to Bob
so we can see exactly where he wanders to today.
You're all set, Bob.
While Karen goes off to work, Bob heads out on his daily rounds.
Let's see what he gets up to.
Right then, our trusty tracker and cat cam should tell us
a lot more about Bob's social life.
But I've also heard of a couple of places nearby
that Bob does visit so I'm going to check them out now.
-Are you Kate?
-Nice to meet you. How are you?
-You know I'm here to ask you about Bob.
-Bob the cat.
I'm beginning to understand that he visits a lot of people around here.
Well, apparently but we didn't know that
when we thought we'd got a new cat.
So he visits you fairly regularly, then?
Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, he thinks he lives here.
-And I thought he did.
-Till I found out.
That he only lives with you for a short amount of time
and he lives in other places along the time too.
He's a tart.
I don't know how he fitted us all in now I know what he's been up to.
Like many cats, Bob seems to have
adopted more than one home
and he comes and goes between them as he pleases.
He's also been known to visit the local school, Clifton College,
which is over a mile away.
-So I believe you've had a feline visitor to the college.
A couple of years ago we had a cat.
In fact, he followed me down this corridor and he...
Just on the left here is a history classroom
and he went into a lesson there.
The teacher obviously said, you know, "Get out, we don't want cats in here."
So he followed me back and my office is just through that door,
-just to the right there and he came in. I bought a photo to show you.
He's obviously the most sociable cat in Clifton.
But today Bob is sticking closer to home.
So I'm dropping in on another neighbour he regularly visits.
-Are you Andrea?
-I'm Liz, nice to meet you.
-Oh, hello, Liz.
I hear that Bob sometimes comes to visit you.
-Can we have a chat about that for a quick second?
-He's actually here at the moment.
-Is he here?
-Amazing. Can I have a look?
-That's such good news.
All right, sweetheart.
Where did you first meet him?
Well, I was sitting here...
in the lounge with the back door open
and he suddenly jumped up on my knee out of nowhere...
..and made himself comfortable
and sat there as if he had been here forever.
He kept coming back
and made himself a part of my life, really,
which was very nice because it was lovely to have the cat
but not the responsibility.
So when it comes to independence, cats beat dogs by leaps and bounds.
It's now three-all.
Which brings us to the final round.
Now they say that love makes the world go round,
but do our beloved pets actually love US?
I can tell you one thing, Liz, I'm pretty convinced...
I know it's going to sound subjective, that my dogs love me
as much as I love them
and I just can't see that coming from a cat.
Aren't they just too independent for that?
Well, cats behave in fundamentally different ways to dogs,
but does that mean they don't love us?
All you cat owners out there I'm sure will swear that your cats love you.
But we can't ask our cats or indeed our dogs,
-so we've got to turn to science to get some answers.
In California, we commissioned the world's first scientific study
to see if cats can love their owners.
Professor Paul Zak, from Claremont Graduate University,
is known as the "love doctor".
He's an expert on the biochemistry that underlies bonding in mammals.
All mammals make a chemical in their brains called oxytocin
and it helps them form social bonds.
These include bonds between mothers and offspring
and between males and females.
It's released during birth, breast-feeding and sex.
Oxytocin really is the gold standard to assess
if two creatures love each other.
Paul is testing cats and dogs to see if being with their owners
affects their oxytocin levels.
He's recruited cat and dog owners who are all very much in love
with their pets and believe their pets love them back.
I feel like we have an emotional connection. I do.
I think that she definitely loves me out of the family.
These dogs absolutely do love me.
These dogs are like the children that I never had.
She likes me.
She loves Stuart and she has picked him as her person.
I think he loves us a lot and he's attached to us.
Currently it's a love-hate relationship.
I think they like us. What do you think? Do you like me, dog?
Yeah, you do? OK.
A couple of small-scale studies have shown that when owners interact
with their dogs,
the human and the dog appear to release oxytocin.
Cats and oxytocin release have never been studied
so we designed an experiment to test cats versus dogs.
Where's your puppy?
Paul and vet Zara get a baseline measurement of the animal's oxytocin levels.
We'll put them in a room with their owners.
Let's go see John.
Allow them to play in any way that they normally do.
The owners now have ten minutes to stroke and make a fuss over their beloved pets.
They said you're a good boy.
After which it's time to measure their oxytocin levels again.
We'll take another sample from the animal
and we'll look at the change from baseline on oxytocin.
Paul prepares the samples to be sent off to the lab for analysis.
So this is the plasma, oxytocin lives in here
and in two weeks after we analyse it, we'll find out
how much oxytocin went up after this animal played with its owner
and that will tell us how much dogs and cats love their owners.
What can I say, this is the moment of truth and I'm very pleased
to say that Paul Zak has come all the way from California.
-Thanks for coming over.
-I'm excited about this. I know you are too.
-Will we start with dogs?
-Let's start with dogs.
In our survey we asked our dog and cat owners
whether they thought that their dogs loved them or not.
Now 3% said no,
and a whopping 94% of people, like myself,
are convinced that their dogs love them.
But Paul, what did the oxytocin tell us?
So the science supports the survey. It does?
We found an average increase in oxytocin
when dogs played with their owners of 57.2%.
Does that mean that the dogs genuinely love us?
Probably. We really don't know what love feels like to dogs.
But at least the physiology that mammals have for love
is being stimulated when these dogs play with their owners.
So we have pretty good evidence that dogs actually love their humans.
-What about that? Dogs love us.
-Your dogs love you, Chris.
Oh, well, I... I knew.
Enough about you. It's not all about you.
-You can try and trump it, if you like.
Could we now talk about the cats?
Our survey said that
22% of you thought,
"No, my cat doesn't love me."
66% of you, though, thought that your cats did indeed love you.
Paul, what did you get with your oxytocin results?
-So this is a first scientific study...
..of oxytocin in cats.
So very exciting.
-Only ten cats, so the results are preliminary.
We find an average increase in oxytocin of 12%.
OK, so that's an increase. I know what you're going to say.
They don't love their owners as much as dogs but they DO love them.
Hang on a second.
Can we actually say that just because the increase in oxytocin isn't quite as high
as that in dogs, that they don't love their owners as much?
It's a very small sample so it's got to be replicated.
In addition, cats are territorial and we put them
in my laboratory, which is an unusual setting for them.
But they produced oxytocin.
That's really quite extraordinary.
That's right. The first time we've seen this in science.
So it means, at least for now, cats at least, some of the time,
seem to really bond to their owners.
Well, thank you so much. Fascinating stuff.
It's remarkable. Thank you.
I don't know about you but that, for me, confirms that
cats are capable of forming very strong bonds with their owners.
That's pretty extraordinary.
It's pretty extraordinary but...
-Dogs love us more.
Just stop it.
Yes, the score's 4-3,
making dogs our overall champions tonight.
And there you have it.
Two shows, two pets and a lot of new science.
Tonight the dogs have romped ahead.
They really are man's best friend.
But last time, cats reached new heights with their superior
senses and athletic abilities.
When all's said and done,
they're both remarkable animals
and which would make the best pet
is, in fact, not down to them, it's down to you.
It's down to your personality, your lifestyle.
But one thing's for sure, the more you put into that pet,
the more you love it, the greater chance there is you'll find
yourself the perfect friend, the perfect companion.
And many happy, stress-busted years with a loving pet.
I say get one of each, actually.
-One of each?!
-I'm not sure about that.
Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin battle it out over five more rounds as they put our favourite pets through their paces, beginning with which animal is easier to train. Chris uncovers brand new research in Budapest which suggests that dogs' brains may actually respond positively to our praise, which could make them easier to train. Not to be outdone, Liz meets an amazing cat called Cosmos who can choose his own TV channels.
Round two looks at communication. Chris knows that humans can understand most dog barks, but how well do cat owners understand cat meows? Liz puts them to the test. Border collie Gable can recognise over 150 words, and in Vienna, Chris discovers whether dogs can distinguish between happy and sad human faces.
In round three, Liz runs her version of the 'stress factor' where, along with a team of researchers, she finds out which is better at reducing our stress, a cat or a dog.
Round four is about independence. Liz meets Bob, a cheeky roving cat with several owners. Closer to home, Chris is dismayed to see his own poodles display signs of anxiety when he leaves the house. The final round looks at the big question: do our cats and dogs really love us? The love hormone oxytocin has already been studied in dogs. But in a world first, the programme looks at oxytocin in cats too. Chris and Liz get the exclusive results of this groundbreaking new research at the end of the series and reveal some surprising new science about how we bond with our pets. Chris and Liz sum up their findings, but who will come out on top, the cats or the dogs?