Caring for multiple animals in the same home can mean preparing for all kinds of interactions, some of them highly surprising. It’s important to be ready to handle anything that might arise, from fights and friction to anxiety and fear. Fortunately, most multi-pet homes reach some kind of equilibrium, with animals getting along — or at least avoiding each other. It’s entirely possible for pets to mate, especially if you haven’t had your animals fixed yet, and a responsible pet owner will try to avoid this by having all their pets de-sexed as soon as they can. It’s unusual, but mating between animals of different species may occasionally occur.
Can dogs and cats mate? In theory, it’s possible. It’s very unlikely, however. Cats and dogs communicate sexual availability in different ways and very seldom engage in sexual activity. They are different species and will not usually be interested in each other. If mating occurs, no offspring will result.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have concerns about mating between cats and dogs. Perhaps you’re a current cat owner looking to add a dog to your household, or vice versa. Maybe you’ve observed something that looks like sexual behaviour between your cat and your dog. Perhaps you have an “entire” cat or dog at home, and you’re worried that some kind of hybrid pregnancy is possible. Keep reading, because we have all the answers that you’re looking for. You’ll learn about feline and canine mating instincts, and what you can do to prevent undesirable behaviour in your pets.
Can Dogs and Cats Mate?
In theory, it’s just about possible for a small dog to manage to mate with a cat. In reality, though, it’s very unlikely.
Cats and dogs are different species. They aren’t naturally interested in each other as potential mates. Cats in particular are generally not very keen to be around dogs, as the two animals have very different ways of communicating. What would be perceived as friendly overtures by another dog are often seen as threatening, or at least annoying, by a cat. Some cats and dogs manage to overcome this mutual communications barrier, but the result is more likely to be a companionable friendship than mating.
Male dogs — particularly those who haven’t yet been neutered — do have a tendency to mount things. Besides other dogs, these often include inanimate objects like cushions or furniture, but can be people’s legs, shoes, and even other animals. Neutering can reduce this urge, but may not eradicate it completely. If a male dog were to attempt to mount a cat, the result is likely to be an irate cat and an injured dog rather than a successful mating. A female dog is unlikely to try and mate with a male cat.
In the vanishingly unlikely event that a dog and cat were to mate successfully, there is no possibility of offspring. Some people have worriedly asked me whether their dog and cat could mate and have a litter of puppy/kitten hybrids, but that’s really not something that could ever happen. Since they are very different species, dogs and cats cannot be fertile together.
To reduce sexual behaviour in your pets, the first step is to ensure that they are spayed or neutered on schedule. If you’ve acquired your dog or cat from a reputable breeder, this should already have been done before the animal came home with you. If you’ve rescued your pet from a problem home or from a less scrupulous breeder, though, neutering may not have been performed. It’s very important to make sure that this is done as soon as you can arrange it. There are many organisations that will provide funds for the operation if you can’t afford it. Aside from any behavioural issues, the health impacts on “entire” pets are potentially very severe.
How to Stop Dogs Trying to Mate with Cats
If the dog and cat live in the same home, I would suggest that this behaviour is likely to be self-correcting. Cats aren’t well-disposed towards incursions into their personal space, however motivated, and will make their feelings known in no uncertain terms. Once the dog has been sent packing with a scratched nose or bitten ear a few times, his ardour will usually be dampened significantly. You should, of course, intervene and separate the animals. Make sure the dog understands that what he’s done is not okay.
It’s very important for cats, especially cats who are sharing their homes with other animals, to have safe places they can escape to if they feel threatened. I’m a fan of high shelves and catwalks that your feline companion can jump up to, but that is harder for dogs to reach. Small cat habitats and even cat-flaps cut into interior doors, can also offer a useful escape route.
In the case that your cat is the recipient of canine attention outside the home, the solution is fairly simple: keep your cat indoors. I’m staunchly opposed to the indoor-outdoor cat lifestyle, in part because other people can’t always be relied upon to keep their pets under control. A dog trying to mate with your cat is a very unlikely hazard, but there are plenty of dogs out there who would attack her or at least frighten her very badly. There are also lots of other dangers, like cars, disease vectors, and enticing spaces that are easier to get into than to get out of. Indoor cats are safer, healthier and longer-lived.
What About “Puppy Cats”?
Some cat breeds and individual cats are nicknamed “puppy cats”. This can give some people the misleading impression that the animal is some kind of hybrid, a cross between a cat and a dog. In fact, “puppy cats” is simply a way of talking about specific types of feline behaviour.
For example, the British Shorthair and American Shorthair are sometimes called puppy cats because they’re smart and can learn tricks. My American Shorthair boy is a very fast learner and enjoys puzzles, while my BSH likes to follow me around the house in a very canine manner and loves a good game of fetch. They’re both 100 per cent cat, though. Other breeds that get the puppy-cat moniker include Main Coons and Norwegian Forest cats.
In short, cats and dogs can’t breed. There are no cat breeds with dog DNA or dog breeds with a trace of cat.
Socialising Dogs and Cats
Regardless of whether or not a dog might try to mate with a cat, dogs can make life very difficult for cats in the same home. The reverse may also be true, but in my experience, it’s usually the cat who undergoes the most stress. Whole books have been written on the process of socialising these very different species, but here are a few tips.
Before you decide to bring a new animal home, consider your existing pet’s temperament and general personality. Is your dog a large and very active young husky, or a quiet and laid-back old schnauzer? Is your cat a vivacious-year-old stripling, or a cranky senior feline who prefers to nap the day away? You need to think about how they might get along.
Introducing your pets properly is also important. Don’t just dump the new pet in the same room as the current one and expect them to sort it out. It’s best if you separate them completely for the first few days, allowing both animals to get used to the smells and sounds of the other. When you do introduce them, set the scene by placing an opaque barrier in the way. Introductions are generally best done over food, as the positive associations of mealtime will transfer across to the interaction between the animal. Let them see each other, but don’t let them interact just yet. Keep this first meeting short, and repeat the exercise over a few days to see how they both respond.
All interactions between your dog and cat need to be carefully supervised. Even if a dog is simply being playful and friendly, this can distress a cat — she might not really understand what’s going on and could panic. Take your time, and be ready to separate the animals if things aren’t going well. With patience, you can help them forge a positive connection.