Why Do Dogs Hate Cats? Age-Old Enemies Explained

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There are various explanations offered to justify the relationship between cat and dog.

Every creature has a different personality, be it a human, cat, or dog, leading to a different lifestyle. Thus, it is believed that neither the cat hates the dog nor vice versa. Rather, they display a wide assortment or range of interactions.

Heard the phrase 'fight like cat and dog'? It originated quite a few years ago and has been in use for more than a century. It is thought to have some truth in it. While fights were about food years ago, behavioral differences are also considered to have fueled fights. A cat fights with its claws, whereas, dogs bring their powerful jaws and sharp teeth into play.

Although the antagonistic interaction between these species is inevitable in nature, they often have non-aggressive relationships. Cats and dogs communicate differently. A wagging tail is a sign of the dog to portray its willingness to play, whereas, a twitching cat tail reflects irritation or frustration. Likewise, dogs like to chase fast-moving objects like balls or squirrels. Similarly, when the cat flees from a dog, the dog chases the running cat not because it hates the cat but because the running cat attracts its attention and triggers its instinct to follow the running object. Though dogs and cats have an evolutionary backstory, they are not believed to hate each other.

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Are cats and dogs really enemies?

Cats and dogs may not get along but they are not enemies either. Since dogs like to chase fast-moving objects like balls and squirrels, they often chase felines that flee upon seeing a dog. While the dog is not known to hate a cat, it is the cat that is known to escape, and thus, is thought to hate the dog. The cat escapes a dog because the dog is likely to prey upon kittens. Both dogs and cats are predatory but a dog may back down from a fight over food if its opponent is dominant, unlike a cat. Thus, the clash over food leads to a natural fight. While a cat is often observed clawing the dog in the face, a dog snaps its teeth and chases the cat. Fights are often loud as both animals intimidate their opponent vocally by barking, spitting, growling, or hissing.

Dogs naturally scare the cat as they are most likely to prey upon kittens, thus, the cat runs, fueling the instinct of the dog to chase moving objects. Because of this and their behavioral differences, often these animals are considered enemies. Putting an end to their enmity is not impossible as a dog and a cat can coexist in harmony in the ecosystem with proper training and by inheriting socialized behaviors. Both puppies and kittens are known to undergo a socialization period wherein they learn behavior, learn to communicate, and recognize species around themselves. Thus, training within the given period can help. Hence, cats and dogs living together in a house in harmony can be the new normal in the near future.

Genetics, history or myths: Where does this come from?

The dog and cat enmity is an age-old mystery. While there are several theories, the truth about cats and dogs and their enmity is unknown. It is often considered a myth and it is thought to have originated due to a clash over food years ago in history. Around 15,000 years ago, humans started domesticating dogs for hunting and guarding their homes, while cats were used to hunt vermin including mice and rats for the past 10,000 years. Both dogs and cats are carnivore animals and natural predators. Signs and behaviors of wild felines and canines are naturally different and are often misinterpreted by other species of animals.

Several phrases like, 'fight like cats and dogs', 'the cat is mighty dignified until the dog comes by', and 'the cat and dog may kiss, but are none the better friends', highlight the natural antagonistic relation between dogs and cats. These phrases date back centuries.

What breed of dog hates cats the most?

Although some domesticated felines and canines are often found in the same room, there are some particular breeds of dogs that never get along with cats due to their extreme predatorial drive. Even if the kitten and the puppy are trained to coexist, some breeds of dogs remain unfit to live with cats.

Afghan Hound, Airedale Terrier, Akita Inu, Alaskan Malamute, Australian Cattle dog, Basenji, beagle, Border Collie, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Greyhound, Jack Russell Terrier, Jindo, Norwegian, Elkhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Samoyed, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Weimaraner, Whippet, Yorkshire Terrier, and other breeds of dogs with intense predatorial drives are better to lead a solitary life rather than coexisting with cats.

It is a cat and a dog reflecting upon their bittersweet relationship.

Would dogs actually kill cats?

Dogs are predatory animals retaining hunting instincts from their ancestors. Thus, they may harm cats but are very unlikely to kill them. Dogs may be inclined to hurt cats but not kill them as cats are quite good at fleeing from dogs and provoking them to chase cats, fueling their instincts. Puppies and kittens which have been kept as pets and trained together are known to coexist without harming one another, unlike the wild feline clawing the dog's face and dogs snapping their teeth until they draw blood or one of them backs down. Sometimes, dogs kill cats when taking advantage of unusual circumstances such as cats falling down, suffering a seizure, or falling severely ill. Even if dogs kill cats, they seldom feed on cats.

It is also reported that dogs often hurt felines or kittens when misinterpreting signs due to differences in their communication mechanisms. While the wagging tail of dogs is a sign of being excited to play, cats twitch their tails in irritation. Hence, a dog may often misinterpret it as the cat to being willing to play, while the cat flees from the dog. Therefore, the dog chases behind and ends up hurting the feline.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs hate cats, then why not take a look at why do cats stick their tongue out and Airedale Terrier facts?


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