How Well Do Dogs and Cats Really Get Along?
 

Jessica Pierce Ph.D.

A new study forthcoming in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior offers a few clues to the mysteries of dog-cat relations. Through a survey of mixed-species homes, researchers Jessica Thompson, Sophie Hall, and Daniel Mills try to assess the dog-cat relationship, as it is perceived by pet owners, and also try to unravel some of the variables that might influence whether dogs and cats get along.

A majority of pet owners surveyed believe that their dog and cat live amicably. An amicable relationship is defined, by the authors of the study, as one “with a friendly, mutual bond, which is recognizable through the use of affiliative behaviors, maintaining proximity and effective, non-aggressive communication between individuals.” Nonetheless, very few respondents scored their dog-cat relationship as close.

Other observations of dog and cat relationships included:

  • Cats were more likely to threaten dogs, while observations of dogs threatening cats were rare.
  • Sharing of food, toys, or beds was infrequent.
  • Although cats and dogs sometimes groomed each other, this behavior was infrequently observed.

In terms of which factors seemed to influence the success of a dog-cat relationship in a home, the authors offer a few tentative findings. Early age at exposure was important for both dogs and cats; this was especially true for cats who were comfortable with dogs — they had been introduced to dogs while very young. The cat being first to arrive in the household also seemed to lead to greater comfort on the part of the cat. Indoor cats showed higher levels of amicability with dogs than outdoor cats. Gender and neuter status did not appear to be a significant variable.

Categories Dogs & Animals


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