Behavior
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Why Some Cats Hate Dogs & What to Do About It

Some cats hate dogs, while others get along just swimmingly. Why? It boils down to two species with totally different instincts — and positive experiences.

Angie Bailey  |  Aug 30th 2017


Some cats hate dogs, and their interactions consist mainly of hissing, chasing and barking. This is in direct contrast to more than a few cases of canine-kitty love, so there must be reasons why some cats hate dogs while other felines live in perfect harmony with their puppy friends. Let’s take a look at where the rivalry stems from — and steps to overcome it:

Why do some cats hate dogs? There’s history!

A cat and a dog.

Dogs and cats may dislike each other because of their ancestors.

Dogs are descendants of naturally social wolves, while cats’ ancestors are Arabian wildcats, who were known primarily to be loners. Even now, thousands of years later, domesticated dogs and cats possess some of their predecessors’ traits. Dogs have an instinct to chase small prey — especially if it’s fleeing. It’s no secret that cats typically don’t enjoy being chased, even if dogs view it as a game.

Additionally, dogs have an innate “in your face” attitude — they’re your immediate best friend. Cats, on the other hand, tend to hang back and assess a situation before extending their friendship.

Humans can help cats and dogs navigate their differences.

Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, Amy Shojai, explains: “Cats and dogs, though different species, often accept and even welcome each other as part of their extended family. Careful and patient introductions increases the odds for a smooth transition and acceptance. People need to recognize that cats and dogs communicate differently, and want different things out of life, so there can be misunderstandings. It’s up to people to interpret and provide structure so they enjoy each other and get along.”

“Provide enrichment for both,” Shojai continues. “Second-story property for cats in the form of cat trees, perches and window views; and floor-level toys, chews and sniff-games of fetch-and-find for dogs. Dogs want to belong to a family group (and cats can be part of that), while cats want to own and control territory. Since dogs can’t climb, it works out purr-fectly for both!”

The way you introduce cats and dogs matters.

Cats and dogs need time to acclimate to one another, and a forced introduction only heightens adversarial urges. Because cats and dogs possess different comfort levels when it comes to friend-making, the introduction process needs to be a gradual one. Make sure the cat has an easy escape if he decides to exit the situation. Many kitties enjoy elevated resting places like cat trees, which provide the perfect getaway from often overzealous canines.

Bring both animals into the room at the same time, and keep the dog on a leash at your side. If the dog tries to lunge forward, lead him a few steps backwards until he demonstrates a calm demeanor. Gradually inch back toward the cat, and reward the dog with treats for each relaxed forward movement. At the same time, the cat learns he can share a room with a dog without being attacked.

After the initial introduction, separating the dog and cat with a baby gate is an easy way to put distance between them while they get to know one another. Don’t ever place a cat in a dog’s face as a form of introduction. This could not only escalate into a dangerous situation, it could be a backward move in the onset of a peaceful relationship.

The age of introduction plays a part.

A kitten and a puppy.

Introducing cats to dogs at a young age may help curb any bad feelings.

Cats and dogs get along better when they’re introduced as kittens and puppies. They’re just learning about the great big world, and are more open to developing new friendships.

Different dog breeds may be better at living with cats.

As mentioned, personality and a few other factors play a part, but there are some dog breeds that are known to live more harmoniously with cats.

Do a background check if you’re adding a dog to your family.

If you have a kitty and you’re adopting a dog, always ask the shelter about the animal’s background. Make sure he doesn’t have a history of aggression toward other animals.

Prepare your home well in advance.

Try to slowly create the atmosphere that the existing pet will experience before the new pet comes on the scene so the change isn’t as drastic:

  • Install a baby gate a week or so ahead of the homecoming to keep the cat and dog separated.
  • If you plan to close certain doors, go ahead and do that as well.
  • Move food or litter boxes so the changes won’t come at the same time as the addition of the new family member.
  • Are the food dishes far enough apart so meals are less stressful?
  • If your pets aren’t spayed or neutered, schedule that procedure so hormonal aggression is at bay.
  • Exercise the dog so he has a chance to release some of that enthusiastic energy before the big meet-up.

In truth, you never know if a cat and dog will live together peacefully, but you can take steps to decrease the odds of cats hating dogs.

Read more about cats and dogs on Catster.com:

Thumbnail: Photography by kozorog/Thinkstock.