In light of #NationalCatDay, I thought I would investigate the age-old tale of friend and foe and get to the bottom of the love/hate (mainly hate) relationship between cats and dogs.
It’s a question that thousands of you search Google for every month, and it’s clearly playing on the minds of the masses. I first of all question whether it’s one-sided…do dogs not like cats or do cats not like dogs? Being more of a dog person myself, I find it hard to believe that anyone could not get along with the canine community. That said, I don’t find cats overly offensive – so what’s all the beef about?
It would seem that both statements are true: cats aren’t too forthcoming in making mates with the big bulldog down the road and dogs tend to enjoy chasing things that will run, so in a sense it was a recipe for disaster from the get go. Phrases such as ‘fight like cat and dog’ must have originated from somewhere, and has been in use for over a century, so perhaps a look at the history of the cat-dog relationship will point us in the right direction.
In the years before Dogs Trust, Cat Protection and the RSPCA, dogs and cats were not looked after as well as they are today. Both were allowed to roam the streets freely, with no regulation to reproduction, resulting in somewhat of a sex, food and rock’n’roll culture amongst animals on the street. Competition over food would sometimes lead to fights, and while dogs have the ability to communicate with each other to sort things out, evolution has not blessed cats with the same levels of diplomacy. Either way, evidently Mother Nature has not given either species a means of communication between each other, making a dispute practically inevitable.
Dogs were domesticated by our hunting ancestors at least 15,000 years ago, and possibly even before that. That’s right, even Socrates probably played fetch with his favourite pooch. Cats didn’t appear to come along until around 10,000 years ago, when they were found to be useful at ridding the home of household pests such as mice. It wasn’t until the Egyptians really took a fancy to cats that they were paid any attention whatsoever, so it’s somewhat understandable that they may have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to their fellow four-legged, furry foes.
So dogs still chase cats, cats still chase lily-livered dogs and given the opportunity, they will turn back and fight their corner. With hissing and growling and yelping and, in my dog’s case, crying, spats can turn into rather loud and disturbing affairs. However, the news is not all bad. Both puppies and kittens go through what’s known as a socialisation period, whereby they essentially learn friend from foe. For example, mother who feeds them: friend, small child that pulls tail: foe. To hijack this process, all you’ll need is one dog-friendly cat or one cat-friendly dog, and all pre-existing qualms about the social hierarchy between the two are forgotten.
Once a cat decides it hates dogs, or a dog decides it must chase a cat, the phrase ‘old habits die hard’ comes to mind, and it takes a fair amount of training and patience to put a stop to the antics.
How do your cat and dog get along? Share your stories with me in the comments or via my social media channels – pictures/videos welcome! I’ll be sharing my favourites!