There’s a reason that “fighting like cat and dog” is a popular phrase. The two species are famous for not getting along, to the point where their antagonism has been turned into a proverb. This can be a big problem for a loving pet owner who just wants their pets to get along. There’s nothing more dispiriting than breaking up yet another scuffle between a dog and a cat. Some people even consider rehoming one of the animals, just so that the remaining pet can get a little peace and quiet. Fights between cats and dogs can even become dangerous.
Why my cat hates my dog: Dogs and cats both use very different social cues, leading to a breakdown in communication. What would be friendly overtures from one dog to another are perceived as hostile by cats. Cats can also engage a dog’s hunting instincts, causing it to attack the cat.
You’ve landed on this page because you have questions about the ways your pets interact. Maybe you’ve just got a new dog or a new cat, and the cat can’t stand her new housemate. Maybe you’re a long-time pet owner, and you’ve just broken up your hundredth dog and catfight. Maybe you’re considering bringing a dog or cat into your home, and you’re worried that the two animals won’t get along. Whatever your situation, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to have all your questions answered regarding cats, dogs, why they fight, and how they can learn to get along.
Why My Cat Hates My Dog
In the very worst-case scenario, your cat may hate your dog because the dog attacked her. It’s a sad fact that, with some dogs, a cat may trigger the canine’s predatory instincts. Cats are typically smaller than dogs, and dogs have evolved to chase small things that they can probably beat in a fight. An attack only needs to happen once to convince the cat that the dog is her mortal enemy. The dog doesn’t even need to hurt the cat — being menaced and chased is enough to instil a lifelong hatred and fear in her. This may extend to other dogs as well; your innocent new dog may find himself on the receiving end of a cat’s ire simply because another dog attacked her in the past.
Even if the dog is generally well-disposed towards the cat, a dog’s communication style may be enough to get the cat’s hackles up. Dogs tend to be more intensely friendly than cats, paying a lot of attention to their potential new buddy. A dog will want to sniff, lick, and nuzzle the cat as a way of getting to know her. For her part, the cat will want to keep her distance and observe rather than getting up close and personal.
Dogs, even loving and gentle dogs can be hard work for cats. A dog might chase a cat up a tree simply trying to play with her, or corner her while trying to instigate a game. The cat will parse this as a major threat to life and limb, and will generally respond accordingly. In the best case, this will mean that the cat runs away and hides somewhere the dog can’t get at her. In the worst case, it can result in nips and scratches for the dog. This in turn can make the dog turn aggressive, further compounding the issue.
Some cats are simply better able to coexist with dogs than others. The British Shorthair and American Shorthair are famously good with other animals, including dogs. My British Shorthair is very cordial towards dogs, and will happily come over to make friends with visiting pooches. His ASH counterpart is a bit more cautious but doesn’t mind when my friends bring their dogs over.
The key to happy and peaceful co-existence between cats and dogs is to select the animals with care and to introduce them properly at the outset. Once an antagonistic relationship has been established between a dog and a cat, it can be very difficult to salvage. Difficult — but not impossible.
Introducing Cats and Dogs
The first meeting between your cat and your dog will set the tone for their ongoing interactions. It’s very important to get it right. It’s easier in some ways if you’re introducing a puppy, who will be smaller, less threatening and generally easier to control. Socialisation with the cat will form an integral part of your puppy’s training. The next best scenario will be a dog who’s already been socialised to interact well with cats.
To start with, you need to separate the animals. Ideally, one of them should be kept in a separate room for a few days. This will allow both animals to get used to each other’s smells and sounds. Monitor the ways in which the animals act when they become aware of each other. If the dog displays hunting behaviours when he’s outside the room where the cat is kept, or the cat shows signs of agitation or hostility outside the room where the dog is kept, you’ll need to spend more time allowing them to acclimate.
Introductions should be brief and performed with care. When they first meet, the cat and dog should be separated by a barrier. It’s a good idea to perform the first introduction when both pets are being fed so that they’ll be in a positive frame of mind. This should be repeated until you’re confident that everyone can get along.
Finally, you can allow the pets to interact for short periods. Supervise these meetings and be ready to separate the animals again if things look tense. Don’t wait until the first bark of aggression or the first swipe of the claw, as this can jeopardise the developing bond between the animals. Just get them into separate rooms again, and start over with the barrier back in place.
What if My Cat and Dog Are Already Fighting?
This is a trickier situation, but not necessarily an intractable one. One approach is to try and start over, separating the animals and re-introducing them with care. Your dog should be rewarded and praised when he is around the cat and manages to ignore her. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of training the dog to leave the cat alone.
If the animals get along most of the time, but occasionally have scuffles, the solution may e to provide the cat with more boltholes where she can avoid the dog. I’m very fond of perches and catwalks fixed high up on the wall. Cats often love to occupy these high spots, and dogs can’t easily get to them. You can also try cat habitats that are too small for the dog. One solution that a friend hit on was to put a cat-flap in the bathroom door, which is kept shut. When the cat needs a break, she can cool off in the powder room without the fear of any canine incursion, since the dog can’t fit through her cat-flap.
When to Consider Rehoming
This is a topic I hate because it’s never pleasant to suggest that someone give up a beloved pet for any reason. Sometimes, though, it’s the right thing to do.
While it’s important to try and help your cat and dog to coexist, it’s not always possible. You do need to face the fact that some cats will never get along with any dog, no matter how well-behaved and cat-friendly. If your cat has been traumatised by dog attacks in the past, she might never be able to put the experience behind her.
More concerning are dogs who can’t be induced to stop harassing cats, seeing them only as prey animals. Such dogs represent a real danger to any cat they come into contact with and need to be homed in a cat-free household. If your dog barks, growls and gives chase every time he sees a cat, you need to either embark on a very rigorous training programme or consider finding a new home for either him or your cat.