Why Do Dogs Hate Cats? Is It Really True?
It’s something we’ve all heard before. “Fight like cats and dogs” – and if Tom and Jerry are anything to go by, it really is true. But why do dogs hate cats so much? Is it all dogs? Is there anything you can do to help both your pets get along?
In this blog, we’re going to go through why these animals don’t always like each other and the reasons behind this famous rivalry.
Why Do Cats and Dogs Hate Each Other?
Firstly, dogs and cats don’t always hate each other. Many cats and dogs get along just fine. They’ve even been known to curl up together for a nap!
It all depends on how you introduce them and your pup’s unique experience. The breed can also play a role as some pups have a higher prey drive than others.
But sometimes dogs and cats just don’t like each other and dog and cat fights can be pretty stressful to manage. Here are some of the reasons why dogs may hate cats.
They Get Lost in Translation
Dogs are great communicators. A wagging tail, a playful attitude, and an energetic smile are all ways they show you they want to play. They may even bring you their favorite indestructible toy.
Cats, however, are a little more reserved. They let you know how they’re feeling in different ways and sometimes these are hard to read for our canine friends. In fact, a cat wagging its tale is often a sign that they’re annoyed.
So, when you’re adorable mini Goldendoodle wants to play with a cat, it may misread the wagging tails as a sign of fun. What he thought might end up as a game, will most likely involve hissing and even a swipe.
Cats Aren’t As Domesticated As Dogs
There’s no doubt that it’s way easier to train your dog than your cat. Dogs have been mankind’s best friend for thousands of years and they’re more domesticated than cats.
We’ve selectively bred dogs to look different and perform different roles, whether that’s hunting, herding, guarding, or cuddling in your lap. That’s one of the main reasons dog breeds can look so different.
Cats, on the other hand, look relatively similar (especially if you compare them to how different a Merle Great Dane and a tiny Chorkie look). Cats always had a natural instinct to hunt small animals, so there wasn’t much need for humans to further breed them.
Because cats have kept more of their wild ways, they know a predator when they see one. Some dogs are much bigger than cats and have hunting instincts. This means a cat will either take a swipe at them or run away.
Even if your dog likes cats, many cats might not like them back.
It’s In Their Blood
Many dogs were first bred to hunt or retrieve prey. A dog’s loyalty, sense of smell, eyesight, and speed make it the perfect hunting companion.
And even if your pup has no idea what a hunt even is, some of these natural hunting instincts will remain. They love to chase other species that are usually small and fluffy. Which most cats are.
In any episode of Tom and Jerry, there’s a big chase scene, usually resulting in Tom running into a door or something similar. This love of chasing is what makes us humans think that dogs and cats are natural enemies.
But it might just be fun for your dog.
It’s exercise, something to chase, and is actually honing their natural instincts. Of course, that doesn’t mean your cat will be happy about it. But trust us, dogs do lots of weird things in the name of fun, like eating cat poop.
They’re Competing for Your Attention
Dogs love to be pet, made a fuss over, and play with you. But so do cats. They may not always show it in the same way (and are happy to let you know when they’re not in the mood) but they also love time with you and your attention.
So what happens if your dog and cat want attention at the same time?
They’re probably going to fight each other for it, a bit like siblings might do.
This could involve the dog chasing the cat off your lap or the cat taking a swipe at the dog’s nose every time they try to jump up. Where possible, try to give them equal attention and love so there’s no need for them to fight!
They’ve Had A Bad Experience In The Past
Both cats and dogs are really clever and remember things for a long time. It’s possible that other cats have had an influence on your dog’s opinion of your current cat. They may have met one on the way to the park or seen one in the garden. If that encounter ended up with a painful scratch on your dog’s nose, that’s what they’re going to remember about cats.
Likewise, your cat might have been chased by a neighbor’s dog and be really scared of them. Other animals can have a big impact on your pup, especially if they meet them during their socialization period as a puppy.
They Haven’t Been Socialized Well
Cats and dogs have lots of behavioral differences but they can learn to respect each other and get along. A huge part of any kitten or puppy’s education is good socialization.
This is when they are exposed to new smells, sights, people… and animals. They get to know how to respect and react to things and this helps them to be calmer as adults.
If your dog or cat hasn’t been well socialized, they may be wary of other species and this could result in fights or chasing.
Can I Make My Dog Like Cats?
It can be very stressful if two of your pets don’t get along (or if there’s a new cat in your neighborhood). The best way to deal with cats and dogs getting along is to introduce them from puppyhood. Pets that have known each other for a long time and that have grown up together tend to get along much better.
It can be much more difficult in adulthood, especially if they’ve had a bad experience. It will take a lot of patience from your side and some willingness from them.
Make sure you give them both equal attention and plenty of yummy treats for good behavior. Animals tend to respond much better to positive reinforcement than raised voices or other negative reactions.
Think Before Adopting
One of the best ways to avoid difficult dog/cat relationships is to fully get to know your dog or cat before adopting another animal. Certain breeds, such as Terriers and Hounds, have high prey drives and they might love to chase cats. Check out the BarkingTalk breed profiles to learn more about specific dog breeds and whether they have strong prey drives or not.
If you adopt a dog from a shelter it’s worth bearing in mind that you might not know a lot about its history. They may have had a bad experience with a cat in the past and it may not be suitable for them to live in a home with a feline friend.
Final Thoughts – Why Do Dogs Hate Cats?
Not all dogs hate cats. And not all cats hate dogs. Although they do seem to love to wind each other up, chase each other, and have the occasional fight.
A lot of that comes from miscommunication between the two species. Dogs might not understand cat language and may misinterpret things. Some dogs also have high prey drives which can lead them to have a bit of fun with a smaller animal. Even if they don’t intend to do them any harm, they may find chasing a cat really fun.
The best thing to do is introduce dogs and cats to other animals when they’re young. This way they can grow up respecting each other and even form a friendship.
You know your pup best. If they don’t get on with cats, don’t adopt one. It’s also worth keeping them on a leash in areas where you know there are cats wandering around.
In the right circumstances, with the right dogs and cats, these two animals can actually get along and be great friends!