Dogs are fascinating creatures.
One of the great things about sharing your life with one is trying to figure out what goes on in their minds.
In this post, we will answer the question…
Do Dogs Know That Cats Are Not Dogs?
Dogs know that cats aren’t dogs because they can smell the difference between them.
They also know from visual and body language differences between dogs and cats.
You can see this by watching the difference in how a dog behaves with a dog or a cat. They will always act differently from the cat.
The rest of this article will explain everything you need to know about what dogs think of cats and why the two species are prone to different behaviors.
Related Post: Do Dogs Know Their Gender?
What Do Dogs Think About Cats?
People have thought of cats and dogs as natural enemies for as long as they have both been domesticated.
But many households have both cats and dogs, and both are more domesticated than ever (for example, it used to be more common for pet dogs to live outside in a kennel than now).
Because of this increased domestication and cohabitation, it’s not uncommon to see cats and dogs getting along just fine.
But what do dogs really think about cats?
Dogs most likely think about cats as living companions, similar to how they see humans.
They know that they aren’t dogs, but they still see them as part of the social group.
If the relationship is handled well, a cat and a dog living in the same home can even become best friends.
Cats are smaller than most dogs, so they’re more likely to feel threatened by dogs.
And while no two animals are the same, many cats tend to show aggression towards dogs due to this fear.
If a dog has more experience with cats being aggressive than positive experiences, they are more likely to associate cats with that aggression and be cautious around any feline pets.
The short answer is this: many variables come into play when considering what dogs think about cats, but it depends on the individual dog due to their nature and the experience they have had with cats.
Before we carry on, take a look at this super-cute video of cats and dogs getting into trouble together:
NOTE – You may like to read this post asking the question: what do cats think about dogs?
Why Does My Dog Treat My Cat Like a Dog?
If your dog treats your cat as a dog, this can mean that your dog views your cat as a friend.
Your dog might even see your cat as a companion and want to display affection toward its friend like it would to a fellow dog.
Dogs show many signs of affection, including kisses, cuddles, and simply wanting to be around the friend they adore.
If your dog is gentle and affectionate with a family cat, it might seem like your dog is treating your feline friend like a dog rather than a cat.
But dogs have a heightened sense of smell that helps them distinguish between dogs and other creatures, cats included.
Your dog likely knows that cats aren’t dogs, even if they often treat them as such.
NOTE – You might also want to read this post answering the question: what do dogs think about cats?
Can Dogs and Cats Be Friends?
Yes, dogs and cats can be friends.
This is much more likely if neither animal has had terrible experiences with the other species. It also helps if they are introduced carefully and given time to make friends at their own pace.
In my home, my dog and my cat are obsessed with each other.
They love to play and even share a bed and blankets.
However, as previously mentioned, cats and dogs can form positive or negative perspectives on the other species if past experiences allow.
But this doesn’t mean that your dog and cat can never be friends.
Here are some tips for getting your two furry companions to be friendly toward each other:
- If possible, introduce your dog and your cat at a young age.
- Make sure your dog has had proper obedience training.
- Supervise their initial interactions with each other.
- Ensure they both feel safe in their environment.
Let’s discuss these tips in further detail.
1. Introduce the Two at a Young Age
Introducing a puppy to an adult cat or a kitten to an adult dog is more likely to result in a more successful friendship.
This is because cats and dogs naturally have nurturing instincts regarding the younger version of their individual species.
More often than not, this nurturing instinct can transfer over to the other species.
This means that an adult dog is likely to be more gentle with a kitten than with an adult cat, and vice versa.
And if you happen to have a puppy and a kitten simultaneously, this can be just as successful because they have the chance of forming a “littermate” type of relationship with each other.
However, you must keep their training in mind. Some dogs can accidentally hurt younger puppies or kittens, even if they don’t mean to.
You should always supervise introductory dog and cat interactions, especially if younger animals are involved.
2. Make Sure Your Dog Has Had Obedience Training
Before introducing a dog and a cat for the first time, it’s essential to keep their training in mind.
Dogs are naturally loving creatures, but they are prone to certain behaviors if exposed to unfavorable environments or negative experiences with humans.
This is often the root cause of aggressive behavior.
If you think your dog is prone to aggression, it’s advisable to train them out of those behavioral patterns through positive reinforcement.
Depending on the situation, it might be good to seek professional dog training advice.
But if you think your dog has been adequately trained and won’t display aggression if introduced to a new animal, your furry friend might be ready to meet the latest family member.
Trust your instincts, as you know your dog better than anyone else!
However, it’s still important to supervise your animals when they meet and interact for the first time.
3. Supervise Initial Interactions Between Cat and Dog
Supervision is super important, especially when introducing a dog and a cat to each other for the first time.
I recommend supervising all initial introductory interactions until you’re positive no aggressive behavior will ensue.
Even then, it’s still wise to keep an eye on your pets to eliminate the risk of aggressive behavior getting out of hand.
4. Provide Them With a Safe Environment
The environment is key to an animal’s sense of security.
If your dog or cat feels threatened, they might feel the need to defend themselves.
Unfortunately, sometimes this defense displays itself as aggression.
If you want your cat and dog to be friends, it’s necessary to provide them with a conducive environment where both animals feel safe and secure.
This will increase the likelihood of a successful introduction and eventual companionship between the two.
NOTE – You might like to read this post asking the question: Why are dogs scared of cats?
Final Thoughts On if Dogs Know Cats Are Not Dogs
Dogs do know that cats are not dogs.
They can tell by the smell, sight, and behavior differences between the feline and canine species.
However, dogs and cats can live together happily and even be close friends.
This is much more likely with human intervention to make sure they play nicely with each other.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!