Cats and dogs make lovely pets, but they don’t always make the greatest friends. If you’re planning to bring a new dog, such as a pug or golden retriever, into the home then you might need to do a little careful planning beforehand to make the process as smooth as possible.
Not all cats are scared of dogs, but cats find it difficult to read a dog’s behavioral signals. If provoked, a cat may respond by displaying defensive body language or aggression. This might include hissing, teeth on show, fluffed up fur, scratching, and attacking. Cats and dogs can be friends with the right introduction and training.
While cats and dogs may not always get along, there are plenty of things you can do to help both animals adapt. In time, they may even become faithful friends and playmates.
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Why Are Cats So Afraid of Dogs?
Despite what common misconceptions might say, cats and dogs aren’t natural enemies. However, both animals exhibit different behaviors that can prove difficult for the other species to understand.
A dog’s instinct can cause fear in cats. For example, dogs love to chase things. It’s part of their playful DNA. But a cat may feel like when the dog runs over that it’s getting ready to attack.
There are communication differences to take into account too. If a dog wags its tail, its happy, excited, or feeling playful. When a cat swishes its tail, it can be irritated, angry, or afraid. These communication differences can create fear in a cat as it’s unable to tell what the dog is feeling, or what its next move might be.
Fear is an instinctual, automated response and an important part of any animal’s survival. Signs of aggression, fear, dominance, friendship, and territory are often misinterpreted by both cat and dog. This is because both animals communicate these emotions differently, using signals and behaviors that are unique to their species.
A journal published in Cab Direct also makes an important observation that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish fear from anxiety or phobia. It’s therefore imperative to understand what causes your cat’s fear of dogs so that you can effectively treat them.
Are Cats Afraid of Small Dogs?
Cats aren’t affected by a dog’s size, but by its behavior. If a small dog makes a cat feel threatened, then the fear receptor will kick in just as much as it would with a large dog.
Small dogs, particularly terriers, are notorious for their yappy sounding bark. This can be alarming for cats. Many small dog breeds have also been bred for their hunting skills. Their small size makes them ideal for hunting smaller prey, including rabbits and vermin. As such, they’ve been hard-wired to give chase, which cats won’t appreciate.
Will My Cat Run Away If I Get a Dog?
Cats are well known for being independent, but it’s not a given that they’ll run away if you bring a new dog into the home. Most cats understand the concept of having a home, so it’s unlikely they’ll give up the comfort and security without necessary cause. You’ll only really find that cats run away in extreme circumstances; if the dog terrorizes it, for example.
Cats are very good at finding hiding places they can crawl into. If they need peace, they will find somewhere they feel comfortable. However, this isn’t a sign that your cat is very happy or comfortable in your home. If you’re observing this kind of behavior regularly with your cat, it’s important you address the issues straight away.
Cats don’t always have an easy time mixing with other animals, especially if they were in the house first as an only pet. So, before you add any new animal additions to your home, make sure your cat is fully prepared.
- Dedicate a separate place for your cat’s food to live. That way, it can eat in peace without the threat of your new dog stealing its dinner.
- Keep an eye on your cat and dog. Leaving them alone for long periods is not advised in the early stages, just in case they don’t get along.
- Dedicate one space in the house for it. Your feline will enjoy feeling like it owns a spot that it can escape to.
- Make sure your cat is getting enough attention, or it may feel left out.
By doing all of the above, your cat should feel happy enough to share its home with its new canine housemate.
Can Cats Defend Themselves Against Dogs?
Cats are territorial animals and will often fight with other animals to protect their land. But when it comes to unfamiliar dogs, a cat is unlikely to defend itself through aggression. Instead, it’s safer option is to run away.
When a cat and dog share a home, a cat is more likely to fight with a dog as a form of self-defense. This is because both animals compete with each other for food, territory, and human attention.
Cats are also solitary predators and are seen as prey by dogs in the wild. They can’t read the signals that dogs convey, which derive from the wolf pack mentality that wild dogs adopt. A cat won’t back down if it feels threatened.
A cat may also demonstrate its aggression by arching its back, fluffing up its tail, growling, hissing, or baring its teeth.
But the metaphor, “they fight like cat and dog” doesn’t have to be true if your pets are introduced from the very beginning in a controlled manner.
Dog Keeps Lunging at Cat
Unfortunately, your dog may be overeager to play with your cat or doesn’t like the fact that there’s another animal in the house. Dogs can be jealous and may lunge at your cat if they feel you’re giving it too much attention.
If this keeps happening with your pets, there are two things you can do to try and make the situation better.
It’s a good idea to reduce your cat’s need to run away. To do this, create lots of places around your home where your cat can escape to. This could include a cardboard box with a small enough hole for your pet to crawl into. Tuck it away somewhere quiet so that your cat feels safe and secure.
Even better, place your cat’s hiding spot in a room that your dog can’t access. You can easily achieve this by using a stairgate that only your cat can fit through.
Train your dog to stop lunging at your cat. Positive reinforcement is a good tactic here. Teach your dog basic commands like sit, stay, stop, and lie down by offering them tasty treats as a reward each time they obey the order.
Once your dog has mastered what these commands mean, you can move onto training it to understand ‘leave’. There’s a simple ball technique that you can try, which involves leaving a ball rolled on the floor at increasing speed. Over time, your dog will stop chasing it until it is thrown.
Once this has been achieved, you can re-introduce your cat and dog while commanding your dog to leave the cat alone. Do this slowly and gently as it will take time.
If you have an elderly or sick cat, the best option is to separate both animals as best as you can.
Dog Won’t Stop Barking At a New Cat
A cat can find this situation very stressful, so it needs to be dealt with early on to stop it from developing into a habit. This is rarely the cat’s fault, so the training should be aimed at your dog.
As soon as your dog starts barking at your cat, calmly separate both animals and lead your dog away to a neutral area. Don’t raise your voice or you’ll stress both animals out. Instead, say ‘no’ or ‘leave’ in a firm voice.
Once your dog has calmed down and stopped barking, allow it back into the same room as your cat. If it starts barking immediately then repeat the process.
There are also ways in which you can help your cat cope better. When your cat is in your dog’s presence, feed it some tasty treats, making sure your dog can’t reach to either steal the food or chase the cat. Set up safe zones in every room too. This allows your cat to tuck itself away and get some time out from the dog.
Until the problem gets better, it’s a good idea to supervise both your cat and dog when they’re together. Don’t leave them alone in the same room otherwise they might fight.