Dog And Cat: Are They Really Rivals?


Many families choose to have a variety of pets under their roof. This can often lead to some interesting relationships between unlikely species. Everyone assumes that dogs and cats are natural enemies. The prey drive of many dogs can cause many disruptions in homes with dogs and cats.

The question, however, is still up in the air as to whether there is a natural rivalry. There are some contrasting truths in consideration of various dog and cat lifestyles.

dog and cat

Prey drive

The prey drive of dogs can vary significantly between different dogs. Many breeds have been used for hunting for hundreds of years. The ancestors of all dogs are wild animals. It is only natural they would have an instinct that helps them hunt for food. This drive, however, may not be aimed at any specific species.

Evidence points to the fact that dogs are hardwired to chase anything smaller that comes their way, especially something that is running from them. Dogs were domesticated to help with the eradication of rodents, as well hunting. Humans actually chose to breed them to perfect these skills.

It is only natural that many of these skills have survived throughout the years. Not all dogs exhibit a strong prey drive, however, it is something to look out for when you bring a new dog into your home.


Some dogs can be trained to control themselves better if they have been found to have a strong prey drive. It can be difficult to walk a large dog that is always chasing after cats and squirrels. Training is key to avoid being dragged down the street or having your dog pull off of the leash.

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You will probably notice that your dog becomes very alert when it sees a cat if you have a dog that is reactive to them. You must have your dog properly restrained and be able to hold them back. If your dog escapes and gets to chase the cat, they have learned nothing. Be patient, this can be a long process.

dog and cat

If you are training the dog to live in the house with a cat, you will have to practice daily to get results. Be sure to keep the dog and cat separated when you are not home, even after training. This lack of supervision may just leave the dog in a tempting situation.

You really cannot focus on training your cat, but you can give them an opportunity to safely explore the dog. Crate the dog and let the cat sniff and around, then switch them out. It might be best if they each have their own crate, for territorial purposes.

Correct the dog if it starts to paw at or shows aggression to the cat in the crate. You should also remove the cat if it shows any aggression. The idea is to remove aggression and reactive behavior. This will take owner support and lots of practice. It may never get perfected, but it can get easier to handle.

It really just depends on the individual dog and cat.

Clues from the cats

When considering the idea of cats and dogs being natural rivals, it is a good idea to look at how cats initially react around dogs. Most cats react with fear and run away. This running is what sometimes elicits a chasing response from the dog.

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Cats may also respond with staring and hissing. If approached, they will most likely scratch extensively to defend themselves. Their claws can do significant damage to a canine.

This response, however, may come from fear of harm rather than an innate hatred of dogs in general. Survival is a key instinct for most animals.


There are many instances of dogs and cats living peacefully together, even becoming friends. The many pictures and videos from pet owners around the world would seem evidence enough to dispute the theory of cats and dogs being mortal enemies. It may, however, be due to the way they are raised.


Dogs with lower prey drives may have an easier time of this. This may also simply be due to personality differences. Like humans, not all dogs can be grouped into a one personality type. When dogs and cats are raised together from a young age positive results can also happen.

Dogs are known to form tight bonds with those they consider a back member. This often extends to the other animals they grow up with. Dogs and cats can live together without problems, indicating there is not a species-specific prejudice.

What we know: A recap

We know that dogs will chase a fast moving animal, including cats. This can be more of a response to the movement and prey drive than to the species of the animal. It is well known that many cats and dogs live together with no problems.

However, even wild animals can be taught to live differently if you intervene at a young enough age. It is unknown why some dogs will ignore or even snuggle with a cat while others will chase cats and kill them. Prey drives differ between breeds and from dog to dog within breed boundaries.

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It is important to pay attention to the responses of both animals when preparing for cohabitation. Prey drive is not negated as a true existence, however, its relationship to species-specific targeting is questionable at times.

Whether dogs and cats are rivals or not, it is imperative that each family take precautions to prepare their animals to live together without fear or danger. If you are not planning to have these animals living together you may still benefit from some training to overcome the urge to chase and capture small animals.

Large dogs can be especially troublesome when they get out of control. Aim to give the dog a way to control themselves rather than trying to remove the prey drive all together. Interactions with dogs and cats can definitely keep you on your toes.

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