In the Spirit of Valentine’s Day
February is the month of romance and love. While we don’t expect cats and dogs to send each other cards or flowers, they do get along much better than they are given credit for. If you have thought of having a home with both you will be encouraged that most homes with cats and dogs get along just fine. If you already have a home with both, you will find some tips to help them get along even better.
Fighting like Cats and Dogs
According to the Webster Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the phrase “fights like cats and dogs” can be traced back to 1550. William Shakespeare even used a similar term in 1610. The truth is, according to research from the University of Lincoln, 80 percent of homes with dogs and cats actually enjoy each other and get along just fine. Out of the 748 homes that were surveyed, only 3 percent said the cats and dogs couldn’t share the same room.
Amicable but not Close
There is actually an academic definition of getting along. According to researchers Jessica Thompson, Sophie Hall, and Daniel Mills an amicable relationship between a cat and dog is defined as: with a friendly, mutual bond, which is recognizable through the use of affiliative behaviors, maintaining proximity and effective, non-aggressive communication between individuals. So they get along but very few households would define their furry kids as close.
Amicable but not Even
It may be no surprise to pet owners that the dog is more ready to build an amicable relationship and the cat is far more cautious. According to the study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, cats were 10 times more likely the aggressor—and they dished out more damage. Dogs were more likely to get injured during a fight than the cats. In most cases, however, hissing and growling were enough to get the message across and did not escalate into full-blown battles.
They Don’t Speak the Same (Body) Language
A dog’s friendly enthusiasm can be interpreted as a threat to a cat. In many cat-dog households, you will see dogs trying to get cats to play the way dogs do. Dogs like to chase, play-fight over toys, and sometimes wrestle. Cats do not want to be chased, share toys, and under no circumstances does wrestling with a canine sound fun. It is a non-starter and a hard no. Miscommunication happens the other way around too. A cat’s warning comes across as play to a dog. According to dogs, cats get participation points for hissing and swatting. It is up to us as parents to do the interpreting.
The Best Indicator That They Will Get Along
It’s all about the cat. A cat’s age is the best indicator if you are going to have a cat-dog relationship that works. The younger the cat the better chances you have that both pets will get along.
How Can I Help Them Get Along?
Having an older cat shouldn’t prevent homes from trying to have both cats and dogs. There are even great resources. Wikihow has a great two-part series on making cats and dogs get along. The biggest take-away is starting slow and keep the introduction short. Other tips include letting them smell each other when they aren’t in the same room. Feeding them at the same time on opposite sides of a closed door will allow them to smell each other without confronting each other. And as usual, the cats set the terms, make sure the cat is relaxed. Dogs were domesticated sooner and bred to please us. Cats are a little more independent.
Want More Proof?
Watch this 3-minute compilation of Cats and Dogs getting along.
Gresham Animal Hospital is equipped to provide the service and treatment your pet needs under one roof. Keep Gresham Animal Hospital in mind next time your dog or cat needs a checkup, shots, or vaccines. Give us a call at 503.666.1600 to schedule an appointment today.