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This is a short story I read in the 80s in an anthology or collection.

The plot is about an alien delegation that arrives to Earth for trade talks. One of the aliens figures out that "he" can read the minds of cats. He of course realizes that cats are the actual dominant species on Earth. He finds out that the cats plan to take over his own planet as the humans offer a pair as a gift to the alien delegation.

I saw a similar question here but it's a different story Story about encounter with hostile aliens

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If you're correct about everything in your question except the fact that the animals are cats, then you might be thinking of "Into Your Tent I'll Creep" (1957) by Eric Frank Russell.

The alien discovers he is telepathic, but he can't hear other aliens, or even humans, but he can hear dogs:

"We are talking at cross-purposes," Morfad interrupted. "Whether I do or do not overhear Terran thoughts depends upon what one means by Terrans."

"Look," said Haraka, "whose thoughts do you hear?"

Steeling himself, Morfad said flatly, "Those of Terran dogs."

"Dogs?" Haraka lay back and stared at him. "Dogs? Are you serious?"

The telepath has read that the dogs a basically controlling humankind:

"Quote: the supreme test of intelligence is the ability to live as one pleases without working," recited Morfad. "Quote: the art of retribution is that of concealing it beyond all suspicion. Quote: the sharpest, most subtle, most effective weapon in the cosmos is flattery."

"Huh?"

"Quote: if a thing can think it likes to think that it is God — treat it as God and it becomes your willing slave."

A breeding pair of dogs are offered as a gift:

"Now see here," declaimed Haraka, openly irritated, "we Altairans invented and constructed ships capable of roaming the spaces between the stars. The Terrans have done the same. Terran dogs have not done it and won't do it in the next million years. When one dog has the brains and ability to get to another planet I'll eat my cap."

"You can do that right now," Morfad suggested. "We have two dogs on board."

You can read the story in its entirety in the September 1957 issue of Astounding at the Internet Archive.

If you read this in a collection in the 1980s, it's likely you read The Best of Eric Frank Russell, a collection I once borrowed and would like to find a copy of again.

Cover of "The Best of Eric Frank Russell" depicting a green tentacled alien playing chess with a man in military dress aboard a spaceship

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    Thanks David It's quite amazing how our mind plays tricks on us because I was 100% sure that the story WAS about cats. Having raised both, I would think that cats would be a better candidate for a world dominating four legged furry companion. But having re-read the story it does resemble exactly what I remember of the plot. So barring the unlikely scenario that Russel rewrote the story or somebody else plagiarized him, I guess that the story I read 40 years ago was indeed about dogs. Thanks again for closing this circle for me
    – yair ofer
    Oct 27, 2022 at 14:27
  • Dogs seeming the less likely candidate for domination just shows how good they are at it. Nov 25, 2022 at 10:05

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