Why Do Dogs Hate Cats?

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Why do dogs hate cats? The main reason is that they are different species. Cats and dogs communicate differently, display different behaviors, have different positions within the family, and different needs. They often misunderstand each other, which can lead to fights, fear, or hatred. 
But, dogs don’t necessarily hate cats and vice versa; in fact, there are hundreds of pictures and videos online to show they can have a happy relationship. However, the phrase ‘fight, like cat and dog’, didn’t come from nowhere. Many instances show they do not get along, along with many TV shows and movies portraying a futile relationship.
Busy? Get Your Hands Paws On The Answers Quickly…

 

Reasons Why Dogs And Cats Might Not Get Along

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1. Body Language Differences

Tail

Both animals use their tails to communicate different things.
Dog - A wagging tail often indicates your dog if feeling excited and ready to play.
Cat - A high wagging tail is often a warning sign to back off.
A dog can interpret a cat’s high wagging tail as an invitation to play, which can be scary for a cat. The cat may turn and run, which can lead your dog to chase. Cats may swat, claw, or bite at your dog when they try to engage in play. 

 

Mouth

Understanding the way your pet uses their mouth will help to understand how their feeling.
Dog - A tightly closed mouth can indicate your dog is feeling anxious or stressed.
Cats - Cats naturally hold their mouth closed, which shows they are feeling relaxed.

 

Showing Their Stomach

Although both of these poses may seem like an indication for a belly rub, they usually mean something different.
Dog - This is normally a submissive pose, a dog’s way of showing they are harmless and not a threat when meeting someone or engaging in play. 
Cat - Showing their stomach means your cat is feeling safe and is in a trusting environment.
Your dog may interpret your cat’s position as an invitation to approach or play. This could cause a cat to act defensive, exposing their claws, biting, or hiding.

 

2. Prey Drive

Dogs are predators and maintain hunting instincts from their wild ancestors. Many breeds of dogs are also bred to chase and hunt. Dogs like to chase things that move, like a ball, frisbee, person, or animal.
This makes a small, furry cat an enticing target. This can scare cats and cause them to run, making it a chase or fight. 
Some breeds have a lesser hunting drive than others, and these are usually a better choice to pick if you already have a cat. These are traditionally toy breeds, or those known to be friendly-family dogs. Here are a few recommendations:
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Papillon
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pug
Certain breeds have a stronger prey drive than others. This is usually due to breeding for work for humans. Breeds like terriers were bred to hunt and kill rodents, and hounds track and chase their prey. These traits put them at a predisposed position to chase cats. Breeds with a high prey drive include:
  • Greyhound
  • Saluki
  • Siberian Husky
  • Fox Terrier
  • Airedale Terrier
Most breeds can be trained to behave around cats. This is usually easier when the animals are young. It might take a longer time if your dog is older and more set in their ways.

 

How To Make Cat And Dog Like Each Other

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Step 1 - Prepare

Safe Area - Before you bring home your new animal, you need to prepare separate spaces that each of your animals can go without being bothered by the other. Prepare these ahead of time, so your existing pet gets used to the area before bringing home their new friend.
Cat Safe Space - A spare room is ideal for a cat to retreat too. Cats like to be able to retreat to high up spaces. We recommend including a cat tree.
Dog Safe Space - A large crate can be a good place as it does not allow the cat to enter. Alternatively, using a baby gate can divide the rooms. However, this will not keep your cat out, which is fine if your cat is not interested or more fearful of your dog.
Make sure each area has everything they need, such as water, toys, bedding, litter box (for a cat), etc.
Scent Swap - Before bringing your latest edition home, add their scent to the house. Smell is an integral part of communication for both animals. To do this, use a clean cloth and wipe each pet from head to tail. Take this cloth to the other pet and rub the fabric on furniture or objects in their space. Allow them to sniff the area. Repeat this until neither pet reacts to them; it can take several days to a week.

 

Step 2 - Arrival

When your new pet arrives, it is essential to keep them separated, using their safe areas. It is overwhelming for a pet to come to a new home, let alone be bombarded with meeting a dog/cat.
Allow your cat to explore the rest of the house while the dog is out; this will get them used to the new smells of both the home and their new housemate.

 

Step 3 - Introduction

  • Make sure your dog is well exercised before attempting to introduce them. It is also crucial that your cat has somewhere they can hide.
  • Start with a barrier between the animals. This will vary depending on the safe space. It is vital your dog is restrained (by a leash) and unable to chase the cat. After a dog has chased a cat, it is unlikely the cat will want to interact with them again.
  • Use treats to distract your dog and reward them when showing a relaxed or neutral position and focusing on you.
  • Allow the cat to approach at their own speed. It is likely they will watch for a while and potentially hide. 
  • If either animal appears to be frightened, take a step back until they are both comfortable.
  • Keep first encounters short but sweet. You want the experience to remain positive. It may take several days of repetition for your dog to calm down and your cat to build confidence.

 

Step 4 - Maintain Harmony

Once your pets are more comfortable around each other, you can allow them both more freedom. However, make sure your dog is not going to chase the cat. Using a leash can help you maintain control. 
Using safe spaces is perfect for separating them when you are not able to supervise them. Do not leave your dog and cat unattended until you are entirely confident in their relationship. 

 

Other Information: 

  • Not all pets are going to get on, some dogs can’t live with cats at all, some cats won’t live with dogs, and some will only live with those of specific ages, breeds, and temperaments. It is essential to know your existing pet and think clearly before getting a new pet. Assess whether you think they will be able to live in harmony before introducing new members to the family.
  • Remember, all animals are different, some pets can take months to become accustomed to each other, and others can just take just days. Take it slowly, and don’t worry about only making a small amount of progress each day.
  • If you are struggling to manage their relationship, contact a qualified behaviorist who will give you advice.
  • Keep your dog away from things that could be tempting, like cat food and cat litter.
  • Introductions tend to go more smoothly with puppies and kittens, but it is still possible with older dogs.
  • If you have a dog that is more prone to chasing (terriers or hounds), then make sure to keep an extra check on them and allow them to adjust for an extended period.

Quick Video on Introducing Dogs and Cats

 

FAQs

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Why do dogs kill cats?
It is their predatory instinct to chase and potentially kill small furry animals, dating back to killing for food or being a working breed. However, this is not necessarily true for all dogs. Some have lower predatory instincts, and others have been trained not to chase or kill.

 

Why do dogs chase cats?
Many have been trained or bred to chase smaller animals, like hounds and terriers. Others may see a cat on their territory and want to scare it off or see it as a playmate in a game.

 

Will dogs kill cats?
They can do, this can be either by accident, during play, or by chasing, hunting, and killing them.

 

Why are cats afraid of dogs?
They communicate differently. Dogs tend to be excitable, and this can be overwhelming for cats. Your cat may have had previous bad experiences with a dog, or your dog may have chased your cat, causing them to be scared of dogs. 

 

Why are cats so mean to dogs?
Cats tend to rule the roost, and if they are feeling scared or threatened by a dog, they may react by biting or scratching. 

 

What dogs are bad with cats?
Terriers and hounds are renowned for being worse with dogs. However, it will depend on the individual, as all dogs are different.

 

 

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Disclaimer: Each dog is different, and every circumstance is different. All efforts have been made to provide accurate information. However, it is not provided by a qualified Veterinarian, Veterinarian Surgeon, or Behaviorist. The information provided is purely educational. The information should not be used as an alternative or substitute for medical care. If you have any health or medical concerns, contact a qualified Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinarian immediately.

 

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