A study was set up to see whether we can work out, in advance, whether an individual dog is cat friendly or not (without knowing the dog’s history). This would be useful information for the obvious reason that there are many multi-pet households in which dogs live with cats. Before a person adopts a dog from a shelter they need to know whether that dog will get on with their cat or cats.
Apparently, at present, there is no validated way to predict how a dog in an animal shelter will behave when interacting with cats except, and unless, there is a previous known history of the dog’s behaviour.
I presume, by the way, that animal shelters keep notes about the behaviour of both cats and dogs in relation to the other species, if it is known.
The study did find, as mentioned in the title, that dogs are more responsive to the sounds of cats then to the sighting of a cat or the smell of a cat.
The study found that dogs who had a history of attacking cats took longer in orientating themselves to cat sounds than other dogs. I’m not sure what this means. To me it means that dogs who attack and injure or kill cats are less able than other dogs to recognise the sounds that cats make and therefore attack the “animal” not knowing what it is and perhaps being fearful of it. That is a speculative guess on my behalf, however.
The finding that dogs rely more heavily on hearing than on vision and their sense of smell when recognising a cat was surprising to the researchers. Most behavioural assessments of dogs focus on their responses to visual stimuli.
The finding may provide clues as to how an individual dog behaves in the presence of a cat. It is suggested that it may be possible to use an audio recording of a cat to assess a shelter dog’s attitude towards cats.
Source: Science Daily. Researchers lead by Christy Hoffman PhD at Canisius College.