5 min read


Can Dogs Live With Cats?



5 min read


Can Dogs Live With Cats?


If you have a resident cat or a resident dog and are looking to introduce a new pet to the family, you may be wondering if cats and dogs can actually peacefully reside in the same household. We have all heard horror stories of cats being traumatized by a dog or vice vera when a new animal comes into the family. 

Thankfully, there are a ton of different ways to reduce, or even eliminate, and trauma that may come along when a new puppy or kitty comes into the mix. Dogs can indeed live with cats in a peaceful and loving home.!


Signs of a Dog Living Peacefully With a Cat

There are a couple of main ways you can tell if your dog, whether the resident dog or a new puppy coming into the house, can successful and peacefully live with a cat. A dog that can get along with a cat and live harmoniously will show signs of submission and calmness, although this may not be the case right away and will take some time. 

When dog and cat introductions are done properly and both species figure out how to get along, your pup will essentially be able to leave the cat alone and ignore him or her. This means your dog will walk by the cat without barking or growling, won't chase the cat all the time, or play too aggressively. Fido will be able to show disinterest in the cat's presence. 

If your cat and dog can eat together at the same time without any aggressive or possessive behavior from either party, this is a positive sign as well. Food is often a large triggering factor for possessive behavior, and if they can eat together in peace, your dog is getting along well with the cat. 

If your cat is really lucky, your pup with show signs of love by playing and even cuddling with kitty. This is the last and final way to tell if your cat and dog will be long term best friends.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice when your dog can live peacefully with your cat:

  • Head Tilting
  • Listening
  • Wag Tail
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

These are some other signs you may notice if your dog and cat can live together:

  • Disinterest
  • Eating Food At The Same Time
  • Snuggling Together
  • Playing Gently
  • Sleeping Near Each Other

History of Dogs Living with Cats


Dogs not being able to successfully live with cats has been a widely accepted and long-term belief in the animal world. The age-old expression "fighting like dogs and cats" doesn't just come from nowhere. It is believed cats and dogs don't naturally get along due to their history of not always being domesticated animals. 

Way back when cats and dogs had to look after themselves and hunt for their own food, things were different. Dogs are descendants of wolves and are pack creatures. If two dogs began to fight over food, one of the dogs would likely back down and the dominant dog would win. 

Cats, on the other hand, are sole preditors, meaning they are not pack-oriented animals. Therefore, even though they were more careful when approaching food, once they made the choice to go after the food, they were more likely to not back down from a fight with a dog. This instinct may still carry over a bit to this day, making the two species a bit less like to get along - at least at first. 

People continuously report and seek help for their cat and dog not getting along at home. Much of the time the main issue is that the dog chases after the cat relentlessly, barks, growls, or won't know when to leave the cat alone, creating enemies between the cat and dog. Likely, the dog is just trying to play, but the cat feels scared and threatened by this behavior. 

Science Behind Dogs and Cats Not Living Together Well


Delving a bit deeper into the scientific reasons cats and dogs don't naturally get along, we find that since they are two different species, they go about life in a different way - leading to the clash. The biggest compatibility issue is that dogs are much too playful and cats feels fearful and threatened by this behavior. 

Some dogs also have a very strong chase drive, which can lead to issues with the cat feeling like they are constantly being chased or hunted by the dog. Cats like to sit back and observe situations while dogs do not, as they are inherently social animals. It takes a cat a much longer time to warm up to people and situations than it does with a dog. 

This is where miscommunications begin with cats and dogs living in the same house together. However, once you understand cats and dogs are just two, fundamentally different species and go about life in different ways due to instincts from the past, you can start to create a comfortable and harmoniously relationship between the two with some work. 

Training Dogs to Live with Cats


There is a multitude of ways to have a dog live with a cat in a peaceful environment. Proper training with your dog and proper introductions of the dog to the cat for the first time are absolutely imperative. 

When first bringing your dog to meet the cat, make sure he is on a leash and there is some distance between them. If your dog is calm and not lunging and barking at the cat, you can move a bit closer. 

Reward Fido with treats if he is calm and not barking or thrashing. As soon as your dog gets oo excited or shows aggression, hold him firmly, tell Fido "no," and move back. Repeat this process as many times as it takes until both kitty and Fido can be close to one another without too much tension. 

Keeping your dog on a leash will stop him from running after the cat and traumatizing kitty. It also allows kitty to run and hide away if they feel scared. Don't force closeness. Dogs are treat and food -motivated, so when your pup remains calm, can leave the cat alone, or can walk by without pouncing, reward with treats. This will let the dog know he is doing something well. 

Training your dog with basic commands and making sure they have a stronghold of these commands are important as well. If your dog will listen to your "sit" "stay" and "leave it" commands without fault, you will be much better off with training your dog to get along with kitty, as they already know listening to you is what they need to do. Therefore, if Fido begins to run after kitty, a "stay" command should be able to stop your dog right away. 

Although we may not like it, sometimes the best way for your pup to learn to leave kitty alone is to get a few bats on the nose. These encounters must be monitored and can never get aggressive or forceful, but the cat will display its dominance by giving doggy "warnings" by batting Fido on the nose without any claws. Your dog will very quickly learn to leave kitty alone and that kitty won't tolerate his behavior.

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Safety Tips for When Your Dog Isn't Getting Along with Kitty

  1. Never leave them alone together.
  2. Keep them separated until both are calm.
  3. Seek professional help if needed.

By a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo

Published: 02/05/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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