Dogs and Cats

painting of puppies and catOne of my viewers asked me if dogs and cats can always get along with each other.  Many tales indicate that cats and dogs are worst enemies.  And from many cartoons and TV shows “dogs hate cats” seems very true.  It is correct that some dogs feel aggressive towards cats.  But just because dogs tend to chase cats and growl at them doesn’t mean that they can’t learn to tolerate them.

Why can dogs and cats be mean to each other?  Cats are small creatures and run whenever they are scared.  When a dog sees a cat running, he immediately wants to chase the cat.  Dogs want to chase cats because it’s in their roots.  Before we dogs were domesticated by people, we lived like wolves.  We hunted for our food and killed our prey.  So when a dog sees a cat running from him, he instinctively thinks of the cat as his “prey” and runs after her.

Most dogs have to be taught to tolerate cats.  Learning to get along can be hard for both dogs and cats.  It may seem impossible at first, but, with enough patience and time, your two pets can learn to live in the same house.  Now this doesn’t mean that they will always like each other.  They may merely tolerate the other’s presence.  Don’t expect your dog and cat to cuddle up with each other in a week and become best friends.  But if your dog and cat do learn to love each other, that’s great!  Just don’t expect too much from your furry friends.

cat icon

Here are some tips for introducing your dog to a cat:

Keep your dog leashed so he is under control.

Make sure there is plenty of room when introducing a cat and dog.  This way, if the dog tries to chase the cat, the cat will have plenty of room to run away.

Let your cat be where she always is:  on top of the bookcase, on the counter, or even on your bed.  This will help the cat relax.  Please don’t hold your cat.  She could get scared from seeing a dog and scratch you.

It is best to first introduce the pair between sliding glass doors.  Pet your dog as he looks at the cat and give him a treat.  This will teach him that the cat is a good thing.  It will also keep him from barking and scaring the kitty.  Your dog may be more interested in the cat than the treat, so try some really good food like a piece of cheese or a slice of a hot dog.

Don’t rush it.  Both dog and cat will need time adjusting to each other.  This could take weeks for some, and months for others.

cat and boxer

With some time and a few adjustments, cats and dogs can become pals.  Some dogs will even sleep with their cat friends as shown in the picture above!  Although it is harder for some dogs to learn to tolerate cats, it is possible.  Many dogs have not been properly socialized with cats and are mean to them just because they don’t know what they are.  It is important to socialize your dog around other friendly cats when he is very young so it will be easier for him when he grows up.

If you own a cat and a dog…

Cats need personnel space.  And so do dogs.  Let your two pets have “alone time” just with you.  They both need your attention and love.  Also, dogs REALLY love cat food.  I know I do.  So place your cat’s food up high where your dog can’t reach it, but your cat can.  Kitty’s food is up on a shelf in the basement where I can’t reach.  She gets up by climbing on a lower table.  I’m not as agile as her so I can’t snack on her food.  You will also need to keep your cat’s litter box away from your dog.

In the beginning, please never leave your dog alone with a cat.  Only if he is very trustworthy and friendly with cats should your dog ever be left alone with a cat.  If you are nervous about your dog chasing the cat, put his leash on and let him drag it around.  This way, when your dog begins to chase the kitty-cat, you can step on his leash and stop him.  But please be cautious and never choke your dog!  The stress of the leash pulling on his throat could hurt him. Consider putting on your dog’s harness, too.  This will reduce the pulling on his neck.

Sissy dog

Thank you for asking this question, and I hope you enjoy reading the answer.

Woof, Sissy


About Sissy

Hi! I'm Sissy, a Toy Poodle. On Doggy Times I share articles about dog training, socialization, care, and health. Check out the Trick and Dog Breed Pages to learn more about your furry friend and how to train him/her.

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