Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats are not natural enemies. Although some individuals will find it impossible to ‘live harmoniously together in the same household or neighbourhood, others either get on or simply ignore each other. Much depends on the temperament and past experiences of each animal. However, when a dog and cat become good friends, the relationship is a rewarding one for everyone concerned.
A kitten and dog can be a devoted couple. Although they now like and trust one another, this is purely personal. The cat will still be wary of dogs as a whole and will defend herself if she is attacked.
Even though the dog has been domesticated for thousands of years, it still retains many characteristics of the wild dog. In the wild, dogs such as wolves live in close-knit packs with a strong hierarchical order, and rely on each other to survive, particularly when hunting. The domestic dog relates to humans in the same way, seeing its owner as pack leader, so it is in the dog’s interest to please its owner. Wild cats, tend to live on their own so they do not form tight bonds.
Cats were domesticated 4000-5000 years ago in Egypt, but humans were using dogs in parts of the Mediterranean more than 15,000 years ago.
Ask anyone who has a preference for cats over dogs why this is so, and you are likely to get the following answers. Cats are independent and strongly erritorial. They can be very affectionate and good company, yet basically they can take you or eave you. Cats are graceful and elegant, can fend for themselves when necessary, and are superb hunters.
DOGS ARE DIFFERENT TO CATS
Dogs, however, are very reliant on humans and identify strongly with their owners, accepting them as the leader of, or partner in, their `pack’. They are not skilled hunters, they need firm handling and a fairly long period of training if they are to become good pets. Given these very different patterns of behaviour, it is remarkable that these two carnivores can share a home – and that some people find companionship in both.
A cat that has been brought up with a dog, or has been familiar with a dog living near by since kittenhood, will not necessarily be tolerant of any dog it comes into contact with. It will probably retain its natural wariness of a strange dog, in the same way it will be wary of a strange cat.
- A cat that has been brought up with a dog may adopt some aspects of the dog’s behaviour – some cats have been known to `tag along’ on daily walks.
- Whatever its size, a dog can be totally dominated by the household cat, particularly if the dog came into the home after the cat had established its territory.
- There are some 400 different breeds of dog, because they were bred for specific purposes as working animals, while the number of cat breeds, created mainly for show and companionship, is below 50.