Do you know the idiom “they’re fighting like cats and dogs?” If you do, or if you’ve seen any cartoons, then you probably have asked yourself “Can cats and dogs get along?” Today, we at Doggy Brace have the answer.
Cats and dogs are perfectly able to coexist and they may even develop a close friendship over time! However, not all cats and dogs will get along cordially. Some of them will coexist and never seek a deeper friendship – that is totally okay and normal! But why is this?
Let’s figure it out.
Can Cats and Dogs Get Along?
There isn’t any evidence to suggest that they can’t! Cats and dogs are two different species, but they don’t inherently dislike each other.
In fact, a study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior that looks specifically at cats and dogs who share a home, found that most of them get along just fine.
Researchers from the University of Lincoln surveyed 748 cat-and-dog households spanning Europe, the United States and Australia. More than 80 percent of pet owners said these classic arch enemies like each other just fine.
A meager 3 percent of respondents said their pets couldn’t share the same room.
This could be because of anything: age, tolerance levels, backgrounds – anything! Sometimes too, roommates just don’t like each other!
What Gets in the Way?
There are some obstacles between cats and dogs becoming best friends. Sorry cat fans, it’s usually because of the way. We LOVE cats too, but they usually show more anxiety and aggression toward dogs than the other way around.
Dogs can definitely be afraid of cats too, but the study observed that cats were often more hesitant around dogs.
This is theorized to be because of the size difference between them and the fact that cats are more independent than dogs. They like having personal space, and dogs are notorious for invading that personal space. This can lead to minor conflicts and slap fests, instigated by the cat.
On top of that, cats aren’t as willing to play as dogs are (on average!). Dogs will often present their toys or assume their “I want to play!” stance, while cats will likely ignore them or see it as a sign of aggression.
That’s not to say cat’s are just mean or unplayful – not at all! Cats are, by nature, more cautious than dogs. They’re stealth hunters – they evaluate everything to make sure they are safe before they go in for a kill. Or, in this case, before they let their guard down.
How to Increase the Likelihood of Cat/Dog Friendship
None of the above is to say that it’s impossible for cats and dogs to become close friends. You just need a little patience, a social cat and dog, and good timing. Here are some tips.
Introduce Them When They’re Young
Kittens and puppies know no fear. Well, you know what we mean. They’re a lot more social and more fearless than their adult counterparts, and a lot more accepting of new environments, people, and animals.
This is especially true for cats! They grow up around the dog and get used to their mannerisms and even adapt their own lifestyle around them. To compare, an adult cat often will ignore dogs completely or find their mannerisms to be annoying, while a kitten will just think it’s normal.
The Cat is King/Queen of the House
The study found that cats who were brought into the home first are often more willing to become friends with the new dog. While we don’t exactly know why, it’s likely a territory thing. Dogs can be more territorial than cats, and if a cat is comfortable in their territory, they are less likely to act out.
Indoor Cats Seems to Like Dogs More
The study also indicated that indoor cats seemed to get along better with dogs than outdoor cats. We believe this is due to instinct – especially hunting and solitary behaviors. Cats are solitary creatures. If they are let outside, they are often more in-tune with their inner solitary hunter.
Why Are Cats the ‘Hurdle?’
We put “hurdle” in quotes because they’re not really a problem. It’s simply a matter of two conflicting natures. Researchers believe that cats aren’t as open to dogs because of when cats were domesticated.
On top of that, the popular theory is that cats played a huge role in their own domestication: they liked hanging around humans because humans praised them and housed them for killing vermin. They weren’t required to hang around people or other animals if they didn’t want to.
Dogs, on the other hand, quickly became a tool for humans with hunting, protection, and working. They were domesticated to work alongside us, and eventually, to work alongside other animals.
See the difference?
However, all of that is still speculation. There is still a lot that we don’t understand about dogs and cats, and even more so about how and why they interact with each other the way they do. It does look promising when you ask “can cats and dogs be friends,” though! The answer is usually a resounding YES!