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Is it natural for cats and dogs to not get along?

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It’s an age-old perception that’s been passed down through the ages, the myth that has fuelled countless cartoons and movies – the feud between cats and dogs.

The idea of ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ is nothing new, and humankind’s two closest allies have always battled out for table scraps and the human lap.

Petplan looks at the famous phrase and whether there is any truth behind it…

Where does the term ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ come from?

In the past, owners of cats and dogs didn’t treat them as well as we do today and would often leave their pets to search for food on the streets. Propelled by starvation and the instinct to survive, cats and dogs inevitably fought over the food that was available.

As a dog’s ancestor is the wolf, they inherit qualities gained from roaming in a pack, such as knowing when to back down from a fight. However, cats are solitary, and this is a key difference in the species which explains why dogs are more willing to trust whereas cats often like things on their own terms – and why they can rub each other up the wrong way!

Can cats and dogs get along?

Despite the differences between them, it is possible for cats and dogs to form a relationship with each other. But, there are a few things to consider if you are wishing to create a home where cats and dogs coexist:

  • Younger pets – introducing cats and dogs to each other can be a tricky process and it’s much more likely to be successful if one of your pets is younger. This is because kittens and pups go through a period of ‘socialisation’ between four to eight weeks, and five to 12 weeks. During this period, they’re introduced to the household and learn how to behave around other species including humans and other pets. The younger the pet is, the easier it is for them to trust another animal.
  • Personality of your cat – choosing pets which will complement each other’s personality is also key. For instance, you should choose a cat with confidence who will not scare when a dog is nearby. Similarly, choosing a laid-back dog will also give a better chance of success
  • Breed of your dog – if it is a puppy who you’re introducing into the household, avoid dogs which were originally bred as hunters such as greyhounds or terriers.

Play between cats and dogs

Trying to get your pets to play together will take time and require supervision as cats and dogs have different methods of play. Dogs can be noisy during play, whereas cats are often silent and may be threatened by barks. Similarly, while a dog’s tail wagging signals an invitation to play, a cat wagging its tail is a signal to leave.

You should allow your cat to observe the dog from a distance and always leave an escape route for either pet. Keeping your dog on a leash may also help encourage the cat to come nearer and will prevent any bad experiences. Associating treats or rewards with a successful meeting will ensure positivity on either side.

If you still find that your pets are not getting along as you would wish, help is always available from your vet or pet behaviour specialists.

Do you have cats and dogs? What are your experiences? Let us know below…

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