There’s a feud that goes farther back than that of the Hatfields and McCoys — it’s the feud between dogs and cats but is there really such a feud. People even feud over whether there is a dog vs cat feud.
You are sure of at least one thing, and that is that your dog acts like he cannot stand your cat. Is there an explanation for that other than that he hates her, and is there anything you can do to change it? We have the answers you’re looking for.
Why does my dog hate my cat?
Dogs and cats are not really enemies by nature, but some traits each of them inherit from their ancestors can set them on a path to clash. Here are two examples.
Dogs have retained the drive to hunt prey.
Dogs, having descended from wolves, which are wild animals, still have built into them the desire to hunt prey. Therefore, a moving object catches a dog’s attention, and he will tend to chase after it, no matter what it is. Dogs will chase balls, cats, and cars.
I once had a wire-haired fox terrier named Zachariah of Windwood (Zack). He would chase anything. He would attack other dogs, cats, whatever was out and about.
I once watched him, while trying to get ahold of a cat up in a tree, back up to get a running start and try to run up the tree, and he literally did it over and over until he was too exhausted to do it anymore. I don’t care what anyone says — that dog must have despised other animals, or was it simply the prey drive?
Dogs and cats don’t communicate the same way.
In most cases, dogs and cats communicate differently. While they may take the same “I want to play” stance, bowing their chests to the ground but poking their butts into the air, this is an exception to the rule. An example that more closely represents the norm is tail wagging.
When a cat wags her tail, it’s not usually a sign of jolly playfulness but one of aggravation — a sign that she’s irritated and ill. A dog who is wagging his tail, however, is usually telling you he is happy, comfortable with you, and wants you to play with him.
Trouble comes in when one or both misread the signals being sent by the other party. When this happens, the dog usually finds out the hard way that a cat’s tail wag means something totally different from his.
Why does my dog suddenly hate my cat?
If your dog suddenly hates your cat, it is important that you not let them around each other unsupervised. Put your dog in his crate when you leave, or put one of them behind a closed, locked door. Here are some reasons why your dog may suddenly be aggressive toward your cat.
He may be sick.
If your dog is sick or hurting, he can become aggressive with little or no warning. There are almost an endless number of illnesses that could cause your dog to be sick or in enough pain to be aggressive. A few that come to mind are fractures, arthritis, and internal injuries.
He may be anxious or afraid.
If you have noticed your dog isn’t making eye contact, or he’s pacing, whining, trembling, whimpering, or tucking his tail, he may be anxious or even afraid. He may have been scared by thunder or another loud noise. These problems can cause your dog to suddenly become aggressive.
He may be frustrated and bored.
A dog who doesn’t get enough exercise or play will get bored and frustrated, and he will get aggressive just to have something to do.
He may be asserting his dominance.
Your dog may suddenly be aggressive because he wants to change up the hierarchy of the home. You should not let your dog and cat be together unsupervised if this is the case, as there could be dire consequences.
He may be guarding what he feels is vital to his survival.
Resource guarding aggression is also a dangerous form of sudden aggression. If your dog feels his food, toys, or the attention of his favorite person is being threatened, he may lash out in aggression. Always keep your dog and cat’s food and toys in separate places.
How to get my dog to stop hating my cat?
If you are having problems between your dog and cat, you are surely searching for solutions. Good news! We have some tips and tricks to help your dog and cat coexist. Keep reading.
Expose your dog to cats and create positive associations.
Socialize your dog by exposing him to cats on a regular basis. Give her treats after every encounter with a cat. Positive associations will teach her to feel good and think of rewards when she sees a cat.
Hire a dog trainer to re-train your dog.
It is quite complicated to re-train your dog not to act aggressively toward your cat. It involves using a training clicker, treats, and judging the distance you can place your cat from your dog before he becomes aggressive. You must do this several times per day.
Then, you must keep closing the distance. It is my recommendation that you hire a dog trainer to re-train your dog for you. It’s what she does for a living.
Keep their food and toys separated.
Never fail to keep your dog and cat’s food bowls in separate places. It may even be a good idea to keep your cat’s food bowl where your dog can’t get to it, and all depending on how docile your dog is, possibly vice versa.
The same goes for their toys. Both their food and toys are breeding grounds for resource guarding aggression.
Keep safe when breaking up fights between them.
When your dog and cat start fighting, the last thing you should do is jump into the middle of it, and yelling isn’t a good idea either. It can sound aggressive, which can make a bad situation worse, and jumping in the middle can get you hurt.
You can stop the fight by making a really loud noise, like two pots clanging together, spraying them both with water, or throwing a blanket over them. Any one of these should stop the tussle.
If you bring home a new cat, introduce her to other animals slowly.
When you bring a new cat home, especially if she is a rescue cat, take time to let her acclimate to your home and to let your pets acclimate to her being there. You will want to keep her separate from other pets by closing doors and using pet gates and crates.
See for certain how they will react to each other face-to-face before actually leaving them to live face-to-face. It will take much patience, as many dog and cat owners say it has taken months for their pets to fully acclimate to each other.
Give your cat a quiet space of her own.
Cats, when they’ve had enough, like to disappear to a place where they can’t be bothered — a safe space. Create a space like this for your cat, and you’ll have a happier cat who is more at peace and less likely to be stressed and aggressive toward your dog.
Exercise your dog thoroughly.
Dogs, on average, get less than 25% of the exercise they should be getting. All that pent-up energy needs a release, and a dog’s brain may overload and make it hard for them to maintain control when faced with temptation like a moving target (cat).
Ask yourself whether it’s really your cat that antagonizes your dog.
You may not have even pondered this scenario, but it could be that your cat is really the culprit. Cats can be finicky, fussy, and difficult. I am not saying all cats are this way, but many cats are hard to deal with, as an eccentric aunt.
These types of cats can have a strong dislike for dogs — even other cats. Rescue cats can be especially troublesome when it comes to coexisting with other pets because you have no idea what experiences they have lived through. Your rescue feline may have a legitimate reason to hate dogs.
On the other hand, your cat may simply be taking their aggression out on your dog. What types of aggression does a cat feel? These are the most common.
If yours is a docile dog who avoids confrontation, a new cat who comes in wanting to establish territorial domination will lord over him with an iron fist. She will bully him from the start. Hopefully, you have a dog who won’t take that off a new cat, one who will take a stand and hold his ground.
A cat who’s afraid will try to hide or retreat, even hide in plain sight, by flattening her ears, squatting down, and surrounding her body with her tail. At this point, your dog should be getting the message — “step back”, but if he doesn’t, your cat will soon “defend herself”.
Once a cat is finished playing, she is truly finished, and she won’t be afraid to let you know it. So, even if your cat is friendly with your dog to a certain point, when she has reached her limit, she will lash out at him if he isn’t careful.
Say your cat sees a hummingbird on the feeder hanging in the yard. She wants to get out so that she can attack the bird but can’t. She may get very frustrated and decide to take it out on the closest victim, possibly your dog.
You may not have seen her notice the bird, so you may think the attack was unprovoked, but an unprovoked attack is not normal behavior for cats. Your cat usually has a reason for lashing out, however base. An attack like redirected aggression may also be mistaken for predatory aggression, which is also uncommon cat-on-dog behavior.