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Do Cats and Dogs Hate Each Other? (Old Myths Debunked!)

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat and dog fighting

Do Cats and Dogs Hate Each Other? (Old Myths Debunked!)

There are certain things in this life that we’ve been taught to believe. Kids are told if they make goofy faces, it will freeze that way if the wind changes. We’re told that certain foods are good for us only to find out a few years later, they aren’t. We have even been led to believe, thanks to stories, cartoons, and movies that cats and dogs are mortal enemies that without our intervention would be at war their entire lives. But is that true? Do cats and dogs hate each other or is that just another myth we’ve been taught to believe?

The truth? It’s a myth. Yes, we saw Spike chase Tom each time he saw him, but cartoons aren’t real. Often cats and dogs make the best of friends. Let’s take a look at their relations, bust the myths, and explain why some cats and dogs get along while others can’t seem to co-exist.

cat paw divider

Why the Myth?

Before we start myth-busting, let’s try to understand why people perceive cats and dogs as enemies. If you look at it, they are truly the most popular animals in the world. Yes, there are other animals that we bring into our homes as domesticated pets—birds for example—but cats and dogs are at the top of the list. With this being the case, it’s only natural that old cartoons and movies used them as antagonists to catch our attention.

Who doesn’t love a heartwarming tale about a dog or a funny kitty movie? We’ve also been hit with phrases like “fighting like cats and dogs” and “man’s best friend” which seem to strengthen the division between the two species.

All this, however, is just pop culture and stereotypes coming into play. It started as a fun little quirk due to these being the most popular domesticated animals. It then snowballed into the myth it became. However, you can’t deny how the differences between these two animals could leave people believing that they are natural-born enemies. You simply can’t deny that dogs and cats can be as different as night and day.

cat and dog fighting
Image Credit; Esin Deniz, Shutterstock

Dogs and Their History of Hunting

One reason so many people believe cats and dogs can’t get along is history. Dogs were originally domesticated to help the human race hunt and protect themselves. Their prey drive is completely natural. Sure, when it comes to wolves, they are known for taking down larger prey animals, but many dog breeds out there were created to hunt animals smaller than them. Even the cute Dachshund was sent into badger holes.

With this history, it’s understandable that certain dog breeds today maintain that high prey drive. This leaves them barking at squirrels, chasing rabbits, and in some cases, going after cats. Prey drive doesn’t mean every dog is going to chase every cat they see. It simply means they have that in them, but with proper training and socialization, heavy prey drive can be controlled leaving cats safe around dogs known for hunting.

Angry dog barking at something or someone
Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

The Aloof Cat

While a dog’s hunting nature is the driving force behind the myth, a cat’s odd nature is theirs. Dogs have adapted to read their human’s emotions, and in some cases, feed off of them, but cats simply don’t need us as much. If you’ve noticed feral cats in your neighborhood, you’ve most likely seen that they survive pretty well. They hunt and find shelter on their own.

Even when in a home, cats prefer to have a bit of me time, without interaction with the people in the home. This doesn’t mean they can’t be caring animals. Many cats show their owners lots of affection and even have meows that are specific to their people. With cats having the ability to care for themselves, this shows that they enjoy their humans, not simply depend on them.

However, you can’t deny a cat’s up and down moods, especially when other animals are involved. A cat may spot a dog and want to be best friends. Their survival instincts may kick in and they run to avoid conflict. The same can be said for cats inside the home. We’ve all seen cats react to things we don’t see or hear. They even shower us with love and then bite us in the same instance.

It’s simply their nature. When comparing this to the loyal, owner-oriented nature of dogs, the development of the myth makes even more sense.

british shorthair standing on grass
Image Credit: MelaniMarfeld, Pixabay

Different Reactions

When a dog sees a cat they aren’t familiar with, the most common reaction is to bark. Now, this may not be the case for every dog, but it happens a lot. As we’ve mentioned, this could be from their prey drive or the fact they aren’t familiar with cats. Some dogs may live in a home where they’ve never met a cat or seen one through the window. An alert reaction only makes sense in those situations. On the other hand, you have dogs who simply love cats and want to meet each one they see.

Cats are more standoffish by nature. When they see a dog, if they aren’t familiar with what it is, they could react in multiple ways. Running, hiding, or even preparing to fight is the most common. If a cat is familiar with what dogs are, you may not notice a lot of reactions. More often than not, a cat is going to stay back and take in the situation.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t cats out there who love dogs and would immediately take to the pup in question to offer it a bit of love.

cat and dog in the window
Image Credit; Vovantarakan, Shutterstock

Cats and Dogs in the Same Home

Nowadays, you’re more likely to find homes with multiple pets inside. Yes, some may be all cats or all dogs, but many have both species living together under one roof. When this cohabitation happens, you’ll often find that the cats and dogs in question end up bonding and becoming friends. Kitty will find time to offer the dog a cuddle, while the dog protects and loves the cat like any member of the family.

But like with any family member, disagreements will happen. When this occurs, don’t be surprised to see the cat offer a good swat or the dog bark in an attempt to scare the kitty. It happens, but it doesn’t mean they are sworn enemies. They are simply communicating with one another.

cat and dog together on sofa
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts on Cats and Dogs

As you can see, the myth behind cats and dogs hating each other isn’t factual. Yes, there are dogs out there that aren’t fond of cats and will be aggressive if given the chance. There are also cats out there who wouldn’t give a dog the time of day. That doesn’t mean that there is a deep-seated hatred brewing in their genes.

On the contrary, cats and dogs have found a way to co-exist at the top of the domesticated animal list and, by all indications, plan on staying there.


Featured Image Credit: Moshe EINHORN, Shutterstock

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