You've heard the saying, "They fight like cats and dogs!" Over the years, cats and dogs have gotten a bad reputation for being the worst of enemies, but is that the rule or the exception? Surely you've seen a few cases where dogs and cats get along really well too, so what's the story? What is it that turns dogs and cats into either friends or rivals?
Why the Bad Rap?
Despite the saying, dogs and cats aren't really natural born enemies. But there are a couple of factors that can make their relationship, well, a little complicated. For example, dogs and cats communicate differently. Take the butt-sniff greeting. Dog meets dog, dogs exchange butt sniffs, dogs are now best buds. Cats, on the other hand, may not respond quite as well to the butt-sniff greeting since it isn't their natural behavior. Getting their butt sniffed by a dog might prove to be scary, uncomfortable and most unwelcome for a cat. It may even provoke a fleeing response, which is the perfect segue to the next interspecies problem that arises - predatory instincts.
You see, when dogs were first domesticated, they were often trained to hunt small, furry animals. So, imagine the scene: cat greets dog, dog sniffs cat's butt, cat is completely freaked out by this undignified behavior and darts away, dog's predatory instincts kick in and he thinks, "must chase small furry creature that is escaping!" Dog chases cat, cat becomes even more terrified and friendship becomes unlikely.
You get the idea. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help smooth out the wrinkles in the cat/dog relationship.
Dogs and Cats Can Get Along
One way to make sure your dog and cat get along is to raise them together. When a dog and a cat are very young, they don't see one another from a predator/prey perspective. Instead your dog and cat will simply see each other as equals. Plus, your cat will find it easier to adapt to all those unseemly dog behaviors.
If you want to introduce a new kitten to your dog or a new puppy to your cat, there are other things you can do as well. Check out these tips for introducing a new pet into a multi-species household.
In short, the keys to making friends of other species is good communication and willingness to adapt - qualities that dogs, cats and humans are all capable of developing!