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Why Do Cats Fear Dogs?

By The Daily Cat experts

Why Do Cats Fear Dogs?

We don’t often think about it, but the pets we keep are either natural-born predators or prey. Mice, fish, rabbits and certain reptiles, for example, are hardwired with the instincts of a prey animal, ready to move quickly and escape when circumstances warrant. As Gina Spadafori -- author of Cats for Dummies -- points out, however, cats are both predators and prey, depending on the circumstances.

When animals first meet, they usually note each other’s size, the information contained in smells, the intentions revealed by multiple signals and more. A big, strong cat might then feel it has a chance at competing with a small, timid dog. But little dogs can be temperamental, and canines in general tend to be much larger than cats. Some dogs are also bred to hunt, so both genetic hardwiring and in-the-moment information will likely cause a cat to run.

Spadafori does note that “many people live in homes with all kinds of pets coexisting quite peaceably.” Experience then comes into play. A particularly challenging situation is when you have an older cat and bring in a new dog. She advises that you keep your dog on a leash during the first introductions, until you can be certain that the animals are getting along. Your cat’s food dishes, litter box and sleeping areas should all be in secure, dog-free zones. Your cat might have to be sequestered in a well-equipped room until it acclimates to the new roommate.

Cats and dogs that have been raised together, however, often play and snooze with each other. In those peaceful situations, predator and prey labels become irrelevant. The pets are all family.

Tags: cat behavior


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Posted on April 11, 2012

Lisa says: We have a cat and a mini-weenie dog both inside our home. They are very much like siblings....fighting each other one minute, snoozing together the next. Cat's fear of dogs may often come from them being exposed to larger, more viscious dogs. My cat has never feared dogs as he has never met one he can't beat up! :)

Posted on January 20, 2012

sophie says: she runs every time she see a dog dont matter what size it is she fears them

Posted on April 11, 2012

Lisa says: We have a cat and a mini-weenie dog both inside our home. They are very much like siblings....fighting each other one minute, snoozing together the next. Cat's fear of dogs may often come from them being exposed to larger, more viscious dogs. My cat has never feared dogs as he has never met one he can't beat up! :)

Posted on September 22, 2011

Dan says: The question is really how to get cats to NOT fear dogs. Hint: dogs and cats must participate in reward activities together - give them treats and affection together so they know they are part of the same pack.

Posted on September 15, 2011

Mary says: Our two cats would chase any dog off our property. It was so funny to see the dogs running with their tails between their legs.

Posted on September 3, 2011

Angela says: My Cat Holly does not fear my neighbors dog Gracie that lives down the hall. Gracie is about the same size and whenever I have my door open Gracie comes in sniffs all of Holly's possessions plus Holly...Holly just sits there looks at Gracie like "How Rude You Are." One day Gracie took one of Holly's balls but returned with an exchange dropping her ball...soo cute!

Posted on August 31, 2011

SuqMadiq says: Not all cats fear dogs! My cat and dog are best buds. The dog is 6 times bigger and has to be around the cat all the time!

Posted on August 13, 2011

maru says: This article did not answer the question of why cats fear dogs.

Posted on May 19, 2012

Akash says: My cat does not fear dogs, indeed she is always in fight with barking stray dogs showing her waggy tail up behind the bars of the door.

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