Why Are Cats Mean to Dogs?

Why Are Cats Mean To Dogs

Cats are not always friendly to dogs. They have even been known to chase and attack them. Impulsively bringing home a cute puppy might not always be a good option if it ends up with one of your pets being rehomed due to incompatibility. 

But why are cats mean to dogs?

Cats are territorial animals and they can be very aggressive when it comes to protecting their domain. They might attack any animal that invades their space, especially if they feel threatened. And, unfortunately, cats often feel threatened by dogs because of their size and the fact that they smell different. 

Still, you might wonder if there is a way to help both your furry friends get along well. This article will help you understand why cats and dogs are sometimes at odds with one another, and what you can do to help them become besties! 

Understanding the relationship between cats and dogs

Dogs and cats have been living together in homes for generations. And, while they are both loving pets, they are definitely not the same kind of pet. They have different needs, different personalities, and different behaviors. Understanding these differences is key to understanding how to deal with them.

Cats and dogs are natural enemies because they are two very different species. Dogs are from the family Canidae, while cats are from the Felidae family. Cats prey on small animals such as mice, birds, bugs, and lizards, whereas dogs prey on medium-sized animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and even cats. Dogs hunt by chasing their prey, whereas cats hunt by stalking their prey from a distance or pouncing on them before making a quick escape.

Due to their predatory instincts and varying temperaments, dogs and cats are almost always destined to clash with one another. However, this does not mean that dogs and cats cannot live under the same roof. Many pet lovers have succeeded in having dogs and cats coexist peacefully in their homes.

Since personality and previous animal encounters can influence a lot how a cat and a dog will react to each other, it is often recommended to adopt them both as youngsters and raise them together. Otherwise, it can be challenging to train both adult pets to learn to tolerate each other’s presence at home. 

Aggression in cats – the root cause

It can be disheartening to see pets fighting in your household. Depending on their temperament, the resident cat might attack a newcomer, be it a cat or a dog, to protect its territory. If you are adopting a new puppy and the cat is not happy about it, then the dominant cat will likely bully the smaller-sized pet to establish its superiority. But, of course, even a larger dog can be bullied by a dominant cat.

Aside from territorial instincts, there are other possible reasons why cats are mean to dogs. The most common reasons are summarized below:

  • Cats can sometimes attack dogs out of fear, especially if they have had traumatic experiences with larger animals in the past.
  • Redirected aggression can cause cats to attack anyone within their reach, including an unsuspecting puppy.
  • Cats are prone to overstimulation. If you stroke them beyond their threshold, they are likely to bite and scratch. Unfortunately, even a playful puppy can become a victim of an overstimulated cat’s sharp claws.
  • Cats sometimes express their predatory instincts towards other pets in the family, including your dogs. This might involve chasing, stalking, or ambushing a dog from behind.
  • Cats can lash out at anyone if they are in pain. They might want to avoid interactions with their humans and other pets to protect their affected areas. However, some dogs can be too playful and not understand when to back off. This will annoy the cat, leaving them no choice but to attack to keep the dog away.

Why are cats mean to dogs?

We often assume that dogs are the big bullies and that they are always the instigators in a dog-cat fight. But sometimes, the cat could be at fault, especially if it is territorial and jealous of a playful pup.

Here are some scenarios where your usually-sweet feline friend might be mean to your family dog:

  • Cats are territorial and they do not like dogs to come near their domain.
  • Dogs like to bark and make noise, which is bothersome for cats who like peace and quiet at home.
  • Dogs are too playful for some cats who just want to relax in peace in their own space.
  • Dogs and cats have different smells. Most cats do not like the scents of their canine counterparts.

Can a cat hurt a dog?

With their agility and sharp claws and teeth, it is possible for a cat to seriously injure a dog in a fight. In fact, there are several stories about cats causing corneal ulcers in dogs by scratching them. Dogs that are bitten by cats can also suffer painful wounds that might put them at risk of infections.

Of course, a vengeful dog can retaliate quickly and harm the cat, too. But you do not want your furry friends to go this far! Hence, it is very important to stop the fight safely as soon as possible. 

How do I get my cat to stop being mean to my dog?

If your cat is being mean to your dog, you should try to figure out why he or she is doing this before trying anything else. There are several reasons a cat might attack a dog: territorial instinct, fear of being chased by the dog, or craving attention from their owners who are paying more attention to the other pet.

These tips should help you get your feline friend to coexist peacefully with your pup:

  • Provide stress relief for your cat, such as a scratching post and a separate area to hang out. Remember that environmental changes can be stressful for cats, and this includes a new furry addition to the family.
  • During the introduction stage, make sure that your pets are separated. You can install a baby gate or a high window perch so your cat can have a safe place to run in case the dog pesters them.
  • Make sure that each pet has its own food bowls, toys, and sleeping areas. Many cats and dogs can be possessive and might not want to share their stuff with other pets.
  • Redirect your cat’s rough play aggression by providing interactive toys. If you notice the cat becoming increasingly frustrated by a bird or another animal outside the window, make sure to distract them right away before any aggression escalates.
  • Each pet must be given equal love and attention. Showing favoritism to one of your pets will likely trigger jealousy and cause unwanted fights.
  • If your cat suddenly changes their behavior, consider having them checked by the vet to rule out underlying medical issues. Remember that a cat in pain is a grumpy cat.


Cats and dogs are probably the two most popular pets in the world. And, while they are very different animals, they can actually be good friends.

The key to living with cats and dogs is to find a balance between their needs. Cats need more private space than dogs, so a large house or apartment is ideal for them. Dogs need more attention than cats, so they should be walked regularly and given lots of love and affection.

It’s important to remember that both cats and dogs are animals with feelings, so make sure to love and respect them equally by providing what they need to live well together under your roof.

Image: istockphoto.com / cynoclub