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Dogs and cats, friends or enemies?

enero 12, 2021

Animal lovers often ask themselves: are cats and dogs friends or enemies? Their profoundly different characteristics and characters have crystallized them into two very different categories of thought: dogs are man’s faithful friends and cats are independent and distrustful pets. How could they find a meeting point? Their nature has made them even the protagonists of a curious exclamation born to refer to two people who cannot stand each other (precisely, ‘You are like cat and dog’).

Dog Cat

The root of this cliché lies in the different way of expressing oneself through body language. When a cat wants to point out its presence to its owner, it comes into contact with him by passing between the legs with the tail straight while the dog tends to have its tail erect only when it is attentive; or again, when the cat vigorously moves its tail it is definitely in a state of alert, while when the dog does it it is because he simply wants to party to someone. These very different ways of expressing themselves have created a sort of incommunicability between the two, an incompatibility that has always been translated into enmity.

The cat who wants to make friends with a dog will always and in any case approach him with his tail erect (on the other hand, he does not know other ways to signal his presence); the dog, however, will perceive this signal in a distorted way: for him, having the tail in that position is a peculiarity of those who want to be in command. Or again, the joyful dog that wags its tail excitedly is misunderstood by the cat: for him, waving his tail in that way is symptomatic of a state of alertness and nervousness.

In some cases, however, dogs and cats communicate their moods in very similar ways: ears folded back communicate a state of discomfort or worry; the tail between the legs signals fear or terror; the deviation of the gaze expresses the will to avoid conflict; and so on. These points of contact represent a hope for those who, while expressing their intention to adopt another pet, succumb to the fear of realizing unpleasant situations of coexistence for all.

In fact, experience has shown that peaceful coexistence and building a bond similar to friendship are definitely possible, especially when it comes to two puppies. Under certain conditions, dogs and cats neglect their different natures and find ways to become good friends. Animal lovers who decide to adopt a dog and a cat at a very young age are much more likely to set in motion a process of perfect integration (only health or behavior problems could make this situation impossible): the cat, despite being a territorial and habitual animal, will socialize without delay with the other puppy; the dog, much more affectionate, will play and approach the paw friend in a peaceful and playful way.

Although the two pets are not endowed with the same language and the same practices, they will be able to share many more situations: playing, discovering unexplored places, affection, cuddling and so on. The meeting between the two, however, must always and in any case take place in a gradual and muffled way (for example, you could make them meet when they eat and therefore when they reveal less interest in the newcomer or you could create personal spaces). What if coexistence takes place in a forced way? What would happen if a cat suddenly found itself sharing its spaces with a dog or vice versa? Would sworn enemies make life difficult?

If you want to make two such different animals live together, you need to have a good dose of patience. Let’s take a look at the first case. The domestic feline is a lover of daily habits, of the territory it has marked, of its own spaces and hates any kind of change. If a puppy is presented to him, the cat will first tend to ignore him, then study him and finally understand that he is absolutely harmless; otherwise, if you decide to adopt an adult dog, you could run into the risk that the cat will recall unpleasant memories related to other felines in the last arrived (the risk is to generate an aggressive attitude and make coexistence very difficult).

And now let’s take a look at the second case. Since the dog is a social, faithful and obedient animal, the insertion of a domestic feline should be easier, although it would be preferable to keep them separate at least at first (and then make them meet in a more muffled way). The dog will get used to the presence of the cat and will eventually accept him as an important member of the family. It is clear, however, that no friendship can arise immediately, especially in the case of personalities as different as those of the dog and cat. In this sense, the family that decides to adopt them has great responsibilities. In fact, if it is true that the dog is an animal that respects the hierarchies and rules of the pack, then it will only be able to respect the newcomer if the owner is able to maintain a higher degree of hierarchy: the dog will consider the cat as a member of the pack, of the family.

The cat, on the other hand, not being a social animal, does not pose any hierarchy problems. The territory is everything to him. However, the domestic feline is a territorial animal that manages to share its territory with other pets, as long as this does not represent a source of annoyance or disadvantages: it is necessary to take an interest in the territorial problem, making sure that the cat does not perceive threats within the marked territory. Friendship and peaceful coexistence between cats and dogs is therefore something possible. They are not sworn enemies at all, quite the contrary. A healthy dose of forethought and good habits will make them inseparable friends.