Cats are main controllers of harmony in the dog-cat relationship

Cat loves dog
Cat loves dog. Image in public domain
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In households were a dog lives with a cat, owners should pay more attention to the cat’s behaviour as it seems that cats are more important in ensuring that the relationship works (i.e. is harmonious) . They appear to be less likely to be pliable and affable than dogs in the relationship. Comment: this might be because cats are more solitary and independent than dogs. And a factor might be that cats are less domesticated than dogs at a fundamental level.

It seems that in most households in which there is a cat and dog, in terms of harmony between the two, the cat is more important.

In the words of the researchers:

“Typically, the cat appeared to be the main controller in determining amicability in the cat-dog relationship.”

Owners felt that their cat had a bigger say on the friendliness of the relationship. It seems that the cat is more picky than the dog in terms of their relationship.

“In addition, comfortability of the cat was a stronger predictor of amicability than comfortability of the dog…”

Factors which were influential were:

  • the age at which the cat was introduced to the dog (the younger the cat the more likely there would be friendliness),
  • the cat sharing food with the dog (comment: I presume that this means eating in the same place because cats should not eat dog food and vice versa),
  • ‘and picking up a toy to show the dog’ – this happened quite rarely .


Source: Evaluation of the relationship between cats and dogs living in the same home
Thomson, Jessica and Hall, Sophie and Mills, Daniel (2018) Evaluation of the relationship between cats and dogs living in the same home. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 27 . pp. 35-40. ISSN 1558-7878 [link]

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2 thoughts on “Cats are main controllers of harmony in the dog-cat relationship”

  1. Yes I’d agree with the conclusion. Cats are more self-centered, self-reliant and no-nonsense than dogs, which puts them in a good position to decide and control the relationship with the dog, who is more open to being decided upon and controlled.

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