Mar 14, 2020

Cats and dogs fighting is not an uncommon sight. Because they come down from different species, a cat cannot tolerate a dog's goofy and playful attitude while a dog cannot stand a cat's royal behavior. It is a common belief that a cat and dog are not the best of friends. That is why you may often hear people say, "fighting like cats and dogs." Now the question is, 'why do cats and dogs fight?' Certain factors play a big part in the enmity between cats and dogs. Let us explore them below.

Why Do Cats and Dogs Fight?

Since cats and dogs come down from different species, their dislike for each other runs in their blood. Cats and dogs both have an inherent animosity towards each other. They are not given an option to choose between love and hate. They will fight until one or the other succumbs or retreats. Cats and dogs living together under the same roof will compete for food, territorial dominance, and attention from its owner.

The behavior of a cat and a dog differs significantly. This leads to miscommunication and misinterpretation, thereby causing tension between the two species. Both cats and dogs possess an innate instinct to chase smaller animals, and in this case, the cat is similar to prey while the dog is the predator. Wild dogs regard cats as prey, while cats look upon dogs as a threat.

The Onset of Enmity Between Cats and Dogs

The mutual hatred of cats and dogs dates back to when man first started domesticating cats and dogs. While dogs were and still, man's best friends, getting all the attention and care from its owners, cats were directed outdoors. Cats then domesticated themselves in the homes of humans while maintaining their 'big cat' qualities. This posed a threat to dogs as their territory and attention from owners are invaded by another species. Cats, on the other hand, dislike dogs as it threatens to dominate over them.


It is common knowledge that dogs are descendants from wolves while cats come from the 'big cat' family.

As descendants of the wolves, dogs possess pack instincts when it comes to food. They know how to back down if they feel their opponent is stronger than them.

Meanwhile, cats are descendants from the 'big cat' relatives like the tiger and the lion who are more of solo predators. Therefore, when it comes to food, cats are more wary but may not have the will to back down once it makes up its mind not to flee.

Both species will try to scare and dominate their enemies by making sounds such as barking, spitting, hissing, and growling. Cat and dog fights grab attention as they are usually loud.

The difference in Signals and Gestures

When faced with aggressive circumstances, a dog will naturally take up its hierarchical pack attributes, and a cat will defer to its lone predator quality.

Cats and dogs do not do very well with first impressions as their behaviors and signals are different from one another. For instance, a dog wagging its tail indicate that it is happy and pleased. On the contrary, a cat wagging its tail will only mean that it is either annoyed or downright mad.

cat and dog staring at each other

A cat may see the friendly approach and gesture of a dog as a form of aggression. Dogs are fun-loving animals. A playful dog might approach a cat with a friendly invitation to play, but a cat may see it as an invasion of its personal space and run away. Upon running away, the dog who loves chasing smaller animals will run after the cat in the hopes of playing 'tag.' Since cats hate being chased, it will either disappear entirely from the scene or put up defensive mode.

When it comes to the cat-dog relationship, the dog is often the mild one, while the cat is the snappy one. Seeing a cat jumping and arching its back, hissing and clawing at its opponent is a common sight. When a dog faces this kind of behavior from cats, it will develop a fear of cats in general.

However, if the dog is born in a hostile environment, there may be bloody fights between the dog and a cat. Although they are natural enemies, they can be taught to live together like BFFs. The enmity between a cat and a dog should not be encouraged.

Similarities In Innate Behaviors

Cats and dogs may belong to different species, but in the wild, both the species possess striking similarities to one another. Domesticated pets may not show aggressive behavior, but in the wild, they are both equally antagonistic. Both species are known to stand up for fights and never back down. Likewise, they are aggressive when it comes to defending their young ones, their food, and their pack.

can cats and dogs get along

Both species belong to packs in the wild. They live in a pack or pride where there will be an alpha. The alpha dominates its leadership over the members of the pack. The pack members, especially the females, do most of the hunting and bring food to the pack. You will still find these behaviors in wild dogs and cats today.

Dogs have more seniority over cats when it comes to being domesticated. They are also easily trainable, making it easy to keep their wild behaviors under control to some extent.

Cats, on the other hand, are more detached and distant and are not as easily trained as dogs. This is why a cat may be more hostile when it comes to behavior.


A dog's playful approaches towards the cat might stress and provoke the cat. Likewise, a dog may also mistake the friendly approach of a cat as a threat and stay away from it. This difference in gestures, behavior, and thinking affect the relationship between the two most lovable pets of all time. Their body language also differs from one another. As mentioned above, a happy dog wags its tail while an angry cat wags its tail. This may be the primary reason why do cats and dogs fight.

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