5 min read


Can Dogs Think They are Cats?



5 min read


Can Dogs Think They are Cats?


While many of us have been brought up to believe that cats and dogs are one another’s arch nemeses, the fact is that many cats and dogs get on perfectly well. As long as your pooch is socialized at an early age, there is no reason why it cannot get along with your pet cat. In fact, some would say that it is the cat you need to keep an eye on rather than the dog! When cats and dogs become friends and are part of the same family, it is wonderful to watch - particularly when they are snuggling up together or playing together. However, what happens if your pooch starts to actually behave like a cat?


Signs Your Dog Thinks They are a Cat

One thing you have to remember about dogs is that can be extremely impressionable. If your pooch has spent more time hanging around with cats than dogs in your home, there is a good chance that they may start to develop some of the traits and behavior of the cat. Of course, the dog doesn’t consciously sit there thinking "Hmmm – that’s a cat and I am a dog, so I’d better not start digging away in the litter tray". All your pooch will do is see your cats behaving in a certain manner in or around your home and then try and copy because they think it’s what they should be doing.

Because dogs can be easily influenced, spending a lot of time around cats may result in various signs that indicate they are copying cat behavior. For instance, if you have a litter box indoors for your cat, over time you may see your dog attempting to dig around in it or even use it to do their business. Some will cuddle up in a pet bed with the household cat and others will have great fun chasing the cat around the house and then being chased right back by their feline friend. 

You may notice that your dog’s body language starts to resemble that of your cat over time. Some dogs will even squeeze themselves into boxes to copy their feline ‘siblings’ – we all know that cats cannot resist getting into a box no matter how big or small. Well, when your pooch sees the household cats doing this, they may decide that they want a slice of the action and try to do the same. Your dog may also spend a lot of time wagging their tail and playing with the cat. You may even notice your dog barking excitedly - but not aggressively - when they are around the cat. 

So, what other signs might your pooch display to make you wonder whether you should change their name from Fido to Felix? Well, there are actually some videos online that show dogs attempting to meow rather than bark, which is a pretty amazing sight! You may also see them rolling around and stretching in exactly the same way as their feline counterparts.

Body Language

<p>Signs your pooch may display while copying the cat include:</p>

  • Digging
  • Scratching
  • Stretching
  • Running
  • Rolling

Other Signs

<p>Other signs to watch for if your pup thinks they're a kitty are:</p><p></p>

  • Trying To Use The Litter Box
  • Getting Into Boxes
  • Trying To Jump Up Like A Cat
  • Meowing

History of Cats and Dogs


Historically, cats and dogs have been labeled as being arch enemies. However, with so many households now having both pet dogs and cats, it is amazing just how many of them have started to get along. It has also been determined over years of research into dog behavior that they can be influenced with ease – this is what makes many dogs pretty easy to train. 

However, it is not just hardcore training that they respond to when it comes to their behavior. It has also been determined that they are influenced by their environment and the things around them, particularly when they are puppies and at their most impressionable.

Over the years, despite concerns about cats and dogs living together, this has become the norm in many households. In particular, if you only have one dog and a number of cats, the felines are going to be the main interaction for your pooch when it comes to spending time with other animals. It is therefore not surprising that many begin to behave like the cats because this is what they know best. Of course, this is not behavior that comes naturally to dogs but it is something that has been learned over time from spending so much time in the company of felines. 

Science of Dogs Behaving Like Cats


The science behind dogs thinking they are cats is mostly to do with behavior and influence. The dog does not literally sit there thinking they are a cat. However, what they may do is display certain feline trains because of the influence of having cats around and the impact this has on their behavior. 

We’ve all heard the stories about little babies being rescued by wolves or other wild animals and then behaving like wolves even when they are brought back to human society. Well, this works in pretty much the same way – your dog will display behavior that it is most used to. If your dog doesn’t hang around with cats, they are unlikely to show any feline behavioral traits. 

Training Your Dog to Take on Feline Traits


Some people actually like to see their dogs act like cats – although not in all ways. Often, cats can be very aloof and stand-offish, and this is not what dog owners want. However, there are other cat-like qualities that owners may like to see in their dogs. For instance, using the litter box properly can prove invaluable if you are going to be away for the day and cannot let the dog out or in.

If your dog can use the litter box, you can avoid the risk of accidents during times when they cannot go outdoors such as extreme weather conditions, illness or injury, and other issues. You can train your dog to use the litter box by picking them up and placing them in there when you think they need to do their business. You can also use the scoop to entice a larger dog into the box by making digging actions and noises.

Some people even like to train their dogs to meow, and this is something that many have managed to achieve through reward training. Of course, this is not for any particular practical reason other than to teach the dog new tricks. However, some dogs response very well and will copy their human’s meow in exchange for a treat. So, if you want a multilingual dog, this could be another thing that you train your pooch to do.

Always remember, the key thing to do is make sure that your dog is properly socialized with your cats, from a young age if possible. This may results in your pooch picking up some feline behavioral traits but it will also save you the chaos and stress of having to deal with cats and dogs that are at one another’s throats all the time. 

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Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats Living Together:

  1. Don't force them to interact.
  2. Monitor their play.
  3. Be sure to socialize them as early as possible.

Written by a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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