Why You Should Not Own a Cat and Dog Together

Do you own a cat and dog together? 

Do you sometimes wish that you didn’t?

Cats are wonderful on their own—intuitive, filled with unique personality, (usually) loving and playful. They even take care of you, bringing you your own freshly-killed meals! 

Dogs, too, are extremely rewarding companions in so many ways. But put the two of them together, and you could suddenly have two neurotic, aggressive animals bringing tension into your household.

The cat and dog together TV cliché: too close to truth!

For instance, consider Odie and Garfield. Tom and Spike. Snowball and Santa’s Little Helper. The cats and dogs in the entire Cats & Dogs movie franchise. 

These are just some examples of the “cat vs dog” dichotomy that is so popular in TV and movies. In fact, this rivalry is one of the oldest and most popular animal tropes in media.  

Comparing cats to dogs is like comparing apples to oranges; all it does is point out how vastly different they are. Yet cats and dogs are constantly pitted against one another in the media. 

Think about it: dogs are usually associated with kind-hearted heroes while cats are seated on the laps of villains. Right? Another popular use of the cat/dog dichotomy is to portray dogs as dumb creatures while cats are seen as cunning and hostile.

As with most tropes in popular culture, there is some truth to the cliche, and if you have a cat and dog together in your home, you know this better than anyone. 

cat and dog faces

Putting a cat and dog together can be like trying to mix oil and water!

While cats and dogs make great pets on their own, having both animals living together is another matter. Cats and dogs are so different, personality-wise, that it’s easy to understand why they get along like, well “cats and dogs”. If you are someone who is planning to have a cat-and-dog household, you may want to think again.

If you have not already done so, now would be a good time to reflect on the kind of pet companion you are and ask yourself this simple question: “Am I really ready to own a cat and a dog?”

Getting a pet is a lot of work in and of itself, but getting another literally doubles the responsibility, not to mention the cost. Think about it realistically: cats and dogs have very different needs. Will you be able to meet all of them, separately and fairly? Do you have precautions in place, like insurance? In the event of a sudden illness or accident, would you be able to afford their treatments? Now might be a good time to research how much vet care costs over a pet’s entire lifetime. Can you truly give them the proper love and care that they deserve?

Here are other important points to consider before owning a cat and a dog together:

scaredy cat

Cats and dogs suit different lifestyles.

There’s a reason that the question “are you a cat person or a dog person?” is so popular—it says a lot about you! 

Cats and dogs tend to be representative of their owners. Are you the outdoorsy type? If yes, then a dog would be a perfect fit for you; cats less so as they like to stick close to home and don’t generally travel well. Ever tried to get a cat to “heel” on a walk? Enough said. 

Do you want your relationship with your pet to be that of equals, with your pet free to roam around the house and seek your affection on their own terms? If so then you will love cats; a properly trained dog understands that you are the “alpha” and ideally will do what you ask, whereas cats will never agree that you are alpha over them.  It’s not going to happen.

Cats are generally more laidback and self-sufficient—they prefer to socialize only when they feel like it.

They need a safe place (or several) in the house where they can retreat to and rest. And they often don’t mind being left alone for days at a time, as long as you leave them with enough provisions and someone to check in on them regularly. Cats are resourceful creatures and will find a way to thrive, no matter the conditions. After all, these are animals that basically domesticated themselves when they learned it would make their (nine) lives easier if they gave a show of affection occasionally and meowed, sometimes a lot!

Dogs, on the other hand, are more high-maintenance.

Dogs require exercise regularly and are entirely dependent on their human for food, water and bathroom breaks. They need daily supervision and attention. On the upside, they are generous with their affection and intensely loyal.

Dogs, when properly socialized, are open and friendly, but don’t let that fool you. Dogs are intuitive judges of character and aren’t afraid to show when they don’t trust someone. They can go from wagging their tails to a crouching attack stance at the first hint of danger.

Beyond these generalizations, traits vary from breed to breed as well, so there is a significant difference in the care each pet requires of its human—double that if you have a cat and dog together. 

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Cats and dogs are natural enemies.

Cats and dogs have a long, drawn out history of being natural enemies. When cats and dogs encounter one another, their natural instinct is to revert to fight-or-flight mode. It’s biological and not something you can totally eliminate. When putting a cat and dog together for the first time, you must facilitate it carefully. Make sure your cat knows where its escape route is, and you may want to keep your dog on a leash.

Cats and dogs have different styles of play.

This is a huge factor to consider. Different styles of play can result in frequent altercations when you have a cat and dog together. Cats and dogs have distinct preferences for games that are very different: cats prefer to stalk and pounce while dogs like to chase and run after things. Why does this matter so much, you ask? 

Well, for one, this means there are bound to be misunderstandings between the two. A dog chasing after a cat may think he and his new friend are just playing, but the cat might be absolutely terrified. 

On the other hand, a dog might be confused and hurt as to why the cat keeps swiping him whenever he approaches. What he doesn’t realize is he’s getting too close into the cat’s personal space. These misinterpretations could go on forever and the only way to fix them would be to set some ground rules in the household and train both pets.

These are just a few reasons why you should not have a cat and dog together. 

But the main reason is there’s a lot of risk involved, not just for both animals, but for the peace and harmony in your household. Should you decide to go ahead and get a dog and a cat anyway, just be aware that you will have your work cut out for you! 


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I’ve had cats and dogs separately and together throughout my life. I’ve also had multiples of both and have found multiple cats together to be the more likely cause of cat stress. My dogs and cats have been playmates at best, respectful of each other at worst.

Eli Edgecomb

I’ve seen cats and dogs get along living together…but usually if they are raised together, this outcome is attributed to the fact that cats and dogs have very different “body language”, which is part of the usual instinctual hostility between them. The theory is that when they are raised together, they understand each other. My mother’s cousin has several cats and dogs living in a large household. Some of the cats were born there, one older cat “came with the house”. Alas, one of the cats had a tragic end, getting killed by a neighbor’s dogs who got loose. A possible danger of raising cats and dogs together is that I guess it’s possible that the cats involved might not recognize “stranger danger” from unknown dogs if the dogs they’ve been raised with have been friendly to them. I’ve also occasionally seen “blended families” of cats and dogs thrown together by circumstance, occasionally work out.

Laura Brose

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