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Understanding Dog and Cat Relationships – a Pooch’s Point of View

Written by Adaptil, published on 19 October 2022

Woof! I am quite happy sharing my house with Bella, our cat – but we’ve had to work hard to get to the situation where we more than just tolerate each other.

After all, we are very different animals and we communicate in distinct ways. Just look at these simple differences:

Wagging Tails:

  • I wag my tail when I’m happy, excited, or pleased to see someone.
  • I know that I should give Bella a wide berth, because when she wags her tail she’s not happy at all!

Noises:

  • When Bella purrs, I know she is usually feeling relaxed and happy.
  • When I make a similar noise - growling - it means I’m concerned, so keep clear!

Greeting each other:

  • When I meet my doggie pals in the park, we run around each other, wagging our tails and play bowing to show that we are friendly.
  • When Bella meets her feline friends or even humans, they walk up to each other with tails upright, take a look and blink slowly.

Running:

  • Bella mostly wanders around slowly; if she runs away, it means she has been spooked or is scared.
  • I just love running! It’s great fun, especially when I’m in wide open spaces and chasing a ball or frisbee. It just feels natural to me!

Being active:

  • Cats are crepuscular and are most active early in the morning and in the evening.
  • I love having my long walks during the day and playing in the garden, and then relaxing and having a quiet evening snoozing.

So, you can see why it’s difficult to understand dog and cat relationships. But I’m glad to say Bella and I live in (mostly peaceful) harmony; we have our human parents to thank for that!

kitten and puppy together

Understanding Dog and Cat Relationships

Appreciating the differences between dogs and cats will help you understand our relationships. Here are a few things to bear in mind:

Ancestry

Dogs are a very social species, and we’re used to living in groups and being family members. Our descendents were naturally social wolves, whereas cats descend from African wildcats, who were solitary hunters – that’s why domestic cats are quite happy with their own company. We therefore come from completely different ancestral backgrounds, so you can understand why sometimes it is difficult for us to bond.

Consider the breed

It’s important to consider what breed of dog and cat you want before you decide to introduce us. Some breeds of dogs just love chasing cats (like the Greyhound who lives around the corner) whereas I am a Golden Retriever and, by nature, I’m quite happy to live alongside other animals. Similarly, Maine Coon cats, often known as “gentle giants,” can get along well with dogs.

old man sat on red bench with cat and dog

Introducing us to each other

My humans brought Bella into our home when she was a kitten, so she was still very curious and wanted to explore everything - including me. However, our humans didn’t leave us alone together. Before we were introduced, our humans kept Bella the kitten in a separate room, and let me sniff items that had her scent on them. That way I already knew there was a cat around, and wasn’t too surprised when I finally got to see her. Our meetings were always supervised - and our humans made sure I was on a lead at first, so I wouldn’t be tempted to chase her or scare her - even if I do just want to play! I suppose that was sensible - and because Bella was a kitten, she seemed more relaxed. If she had been an older cat, I think things would have been more difficult.

Give us our own space

Both cats and dogs rely on their sense of smell, so you can imagine there was a lot of sniffing going on to try and determine territory! Our parents helped us by making sure that we had our own space. I have my own comfy bed and she has hers – in different areas I may add! Hers is also up high, whereas mine is in the corner by the warm radiator.

red setter lying down with cat

Training

I love to please my humans and they have taught me a lot of tricks – I’m very happy to please them because I know that I’ll get a treat if I’m good. I know that I’m not supposed to chase Bella, but sometimes in the garden I can’t help myself. I really want to play with her but she always manages to jump onto a table or a fence where I can’t reach. She’ll sit and watch me and then tease me with her paw as I walk by – then she’ll jump off the table and scoot to the other side of the garden, daring me to chase her again! She’s sneaky, but it’s good fun! I think we’ve got the measure of each other now and we may just be bonding!

If things get a bit unruly, my training comes in handy - I always go to my human when she calls me… it’s that treat!

Sharing

Bella is not very good at sharing what belongs to her. That means we have our own beds and our own food and water bowls - hers are always up high so I can’t reach them.

We do share some things though – we both like to sit on the sofa with our humans in the evening. Sometimes she even creeps into my bed and curls up beside me - I’m honoured! When she drinks from my water bowl I can’t say I’m too impressed - but it’s a good sign that she is comfortable living with me!

We are becoming good buddies and, when it suits her, she lets me lick her coat. That makes me feel that she’s part of my family.

The moral of this story: Not all cats and dogs are sworn enemies.  Early introductions, patience, training and understanding can result in a harmonious relationship. However, it’s important to remember that not all dogs and cats will become best friends. As long as there are no signs of conflict or stress, it is just sufficient that they are comfortable in each other’s presence.

And for dogs who need a little extra support in new or social situations, having an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser in the areas we spend the most time in can help us stay calm, confident and help us live in harmony.

Chocolate Laborador cuddles with ginger cat

Adaptil Calm Diffuser

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