Canine-Feline Relations 101

Posted by Pia

Our best friends can be each other's best friends too!

For those of us who have the good fortune to live with both felines and canines, it may not come as a surprise to learn the following; More often then not these two species get along swimmingly well!

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Judy and the Rain Cat, Tallahassee, Florida.

1 Judy and the Rain Cat, Tallahassee, Florida. "I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it." -- Abraham Lincoln

Deuce and Cleo, Hillsdale, New Jersey.

2 Deuce and Cleo, Hillsdale, New Jersey. "It is a sobering thought that cats and dogs are more loyal, trustworthy, and reliable than human beings". -- Desmond Morris

Natasha and Susie Q, North Hollywood, California.

3 Natasha and Susie Q, North Hollywood, California. "To err is human, to forgive, canine" -- Anonymous; "To err is human, to purr, feline" -- Robert Byrne

Oscar and Stewie, Rochester, New York.

4 Oscar and Stewie, Rochester, New York. "Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later." -- Mary Bly

Faith and Oz, North Ridgeville, Ohio.

5 Faith and Oz, North Ridgeville, Ohio. "Dogs believe they are human. Cats believe they are God." -- Unknown

Charlie and Maggie, Turlock, California. “Every dog has his day -- but the nights are reserved for the cats,” -- Unknown

6 Charlie and Maggie, Turlock, California. “Every dog has his day -- but the nights are reserved for the cats,” -- Unknown

Frankie and Looney, Brentwood, California.

7 Frankie and Looney, Brentwood, California. "The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into." -- Bruce Schimmel

A Boston terrier mix and grey tortie at play.

8 A Boston terrier mix and grey tortie at play. "Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea." -- Unknown

A survey by Tel Aviv University of 170 Israeli households that included both a dog and a cat yielded some interesting findings: Only a tenth of the the households reported canine/feline fighting, while two-thirds reported perfectly amicable inter-species relations. (One quarter reported indifference between the two species.) The study indicates that introducing dog and cat when both are still young made for especially positive relations.

A particularly interesting finding is that dogs and cats typically learned to understand one another's body language. This understanding even extended to body language that actually conveyed the opposite meaning if exhibited by their own species. For example, while a cat might flick or thump his/her tail to convey annoyance, a dog's wagging tail typically signifies happiness. Similarly, a cat who averts his/her head might be signaling aggression, a dog doing the same thing might instead mean submission.

The Tel Aviv study found that four out of five times, the animal's response demonstrated a correct interpretation of the other animal's species-specific behavior. This is quite remarkable!

Once animals of differing species become familiar with one another and essentially learn each other's language, they often greet each other nose-to-nose, play with one another, snuggle together and even groom one another. I personally get to witness such encounters between my feline and canine kids all the time -- and they are a joy to behold!

Be sure to share your photos and stories of inter-species friendships with us at the Daily Wag (drpia.dw@gmail.com). We simply can't get enough of this stuff!

In kinship,

Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (5)

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too, Dr. Pia. My mommy and daddy have had Chows before me and each one of them had their own cat. Mommy tells about Bear Bear, a red chow, and how he would lay on top of a pile of snow and “his” cat would lay on top of him to keep warm. The cat was the same color of the dog and one could not tell where the cat ended and the dog began. I don’t have a cat because I chase them too much. I guess I learned that from my mommy; she would “scat” the cats away from her car when I was a puppy. You know that old saying, “Puppy do what puppy see.”
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Oh I LOVE THIS!!! what special photos, it makes my heart jump with joy!

    I think The Tel Aviv study is wonderful, I will send this to my cousin in Germany who spends a great deal of time in Israel and always sends me things about Israeli information...Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Dr. Pia: Kitty cats and puppy dogs. How cool is that? Momma told me all about those that came before me and one kitty that stayed with me for 4 months till he went to meet God and stay at the Rainbow Bridge.

    Momma said they came one by one into the house where they received much love and medical care. There was Dollie (dog) and Baby Heidi (dog) and Samantha (cat)and then came Grandpa Littleman (cat), Littleboy (cat). When Dollie passed away, she got Sweet Tater (dog) from the pound at 6 weeks. She said that as each one passed away it broke her heart to little pieces and she told each one when their time had come that she would love them for all eternity. You see, they each passed from very old age. So now there is only me and momma and daddy will love me for all eternity too. I know this to be true because they told me they would.

    So you see, they all lived together and there were never any fights. It was meant to be like raising children momma said only no fighting. I don't think momma would mind me telling you about the oh what did she call it, oh yes, hisssstorry. Not too sure about what that means but it is very important to momma and daddy.

    Well, time for a nap in a cool house. Too hot outside UGH! Take care. See ya later. Love, Gracyn.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thanks so much for this delightful blog about how cats and dog get along with each other. Your photos are absolutely the cutest! I have always had dogs and cats that get along very well and they do understand each other perfectly. I understand both of them, also by watching them closely and they understand me because of the positive attention I give them. Life is so beautiful especially when we have loving animals to take care of. Hug all of your babies for me! Jan

  • I have to admit that I did not meet cats until I was a little older. My darling Francesca had already moved to the East Coast and then I met Willa, a very pretty black cat who lives in my New Mom's house. I think i may not like her, but I'm not quite sure. When I get too close, she swipes her paw at me. Sometimes I move quickly toward her and she thinks I'm trying to eat her. I'm not sure that I might not, if the chance came around, but I know it would upset my New Mom, so maybe I wouldn't.

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