Does your dog seem to be obsessed with your cat?
There must be a reason for that…
Search no more – here you will find the answer plus some interesting facts about cat-dog relationships.
Read on to discover:
- If it’s possible for dogs to detect sickness in cats.
- What a dog’s instinct to herd has to do with the cat in the house.
- How the sounds your cat makes could be drawing your dog’s attention.
- And way more…
Table of contents
- Why is my dog obsessed with my cat?
- 5 reasons why your dog is obsessed with your cat
- 5 tips to stop your dogs’ obsession with the cat
Why is my dog obsessed with my cat?
Your dog is obsessed with your cat either because of a strong prey drive or because they just want to play. Dogs with strong prey drive tend to chase after smaller animals such as cats. Other factors include the dog detecting an illness or reacting to their natural instinct of herding.
5 reasons why your dog is obsessed with your cat
#1: Your dog has a strong prey drive
‘You fight like cats and dogs!’
Have you heard this line before? It’s a testament to the natural antipathy between these two species.
Even movies gained from this antipathy, as seen on cat-and-dog movies such as Cats & Dogs.
Don’t be mistaken, though. Many cats and dogs share a peaceful relationship. Here’s proof:
Unfortunately, this is not the case for all cats and dogs. In particular, some dogs stalk, chase, and even hurt cats.
It’s an obsession that seems to be present in most dogs.
One possible reason could be the dog’s strong prey drive.
Prey drive refers to a dog’s inclination to chase and even kill small animals. Preys could be cats, rabbits, or squirrels.
If you think it’s prey drive, look at how your dog behaves.
Dogs usually stiffen once they see a cat
They’ll stare and focus. Sometimes nothing can break the stare. Not even the owner’s recall.
In worst-case scenarios, the dog will run after the cat. It starts a chase that might end badly for one of them.
All dogs have a prey drive. But this is stronger in certain breeds.
Think of Rhodesian Ridgeback, Greyhound, and Airedale Terrier. These dogs were originally bred to hunt and flush out small animals.
Some animals that were not bred to hunt still have a high prey drive. Think of Siberian Husky and Chihuahuas. Chihuahuas do it because of their guarding skills.
#2: Your dog wants to play with your cat
Play is a vital part of a dog’s life.
It has many wonderful benefits for your dog, as proven by this study. Fourteen (14) Golden Retrievers played tug-of-war.
In 20 sessions they were allowed to win. In another 20 sessions, they lost.
The result showed that the dogs showed more obedient attentiveness after the play.
Another study showed that lack of play leads to 22 behavioral issues. These include aversion, whining, pulling on the leash, and anxiety.
It looks like play is the key to your dog’s happiness. No wonder they love to play with their favorite humans.
However, if you’re unable to play with your dog, then they’ll find a way to play with others. Your cats, for example.
This could be the reason for your dog’s obsession with your cat.
#3: It’s your cat’s vocalizations
You must be as curious as I am.
Could it be the cat’s smell that gets a dog’s attention? Or simply their appearance?
Interestingly, it’s the auditory cat stimulus.
In this study, the researchers wanted to find out what catches dogs’ interest in cats.
They studied 69 dogs and their responses to a realistic-looking cat doll. The researchers also used cat urine and recordings of cat sounds in the experiment.
Everyone predicted that the dogs would pay attention to the cat doll that smelled like a cat. The dogs indeed looked at the cat doll.
But the smell of the cat urine did not increase the dogs’ interest.
So what were the dogs interested in? The recordings of cat sounds.
Here’s what’s more interesting in the study:
Dogs that had an aggressive past encounter with cats paid more attention to the cat sounds.
#4: Your dog can detect sickness in your cat
There’s a lot a dog can find out through their noses.
They know which hand you kept the treat. They can smell where you hid the treats during a game in the house.
But aside from smelling food, dogs can also smell illness.
A study in 2004 observed whether dogs could be trained to identify bladder cancer from urine odor.
The results showed that dogs were able to do so 22 times out of 54. This was proof that dogs could really be trained to identify people with bladder cancer.
But can dogs use this ability to detect illness in other animals? A team did an experiment to find out whether dogs can detect cancer in other dogs.
The first 2 phases were successful. But the last 2 were not.
However, it is of interest that at some point, the dogs were able to detect cancer.
This could explain your dog’s obsession with your cat. The illness is not necessarily cancer. It could be a tumor or diabetes or something else.
And if you’ll notice, sometimes a dog takes care of a sick cat and vice versa. Here’s what I’m talking about:
They show care by sleeping near the sick one, offering food or grooming them.
#5: Your dog reacts to their natural instinct
Dogs like to chase other dogs when playing.
But have you seen a dog chasing a cat for the purpose of play? What you’ll probably see is a stressed or aggressive cat getting away from the dog.
This is a natural instinct in dogs. They react to the sight of an animal running and chase after it.
Chasing doesn’t apply to cats alone. It could be other small animals such as squirrels and rats.
Bonus: Your dog is herding the cat
Is your dog a Border Collie? Or perhaps a German Shepherd or a Welsh Corgi?
Their obsession with your cat might have something to do with herding.
Such is the case with Firefly the Border Collie:
Herding dogs were originally bred to herd animals. They stalk and act stealthily. And they nip the ankles of the animals they herd.
These are the same things a dog does when they’re herding your cat. There’s no livestock or sheep to herd, but the instinct is still there.
Thus, they may find your cat the ‘sheep’ to herd.
5 tips to stop your dogs’ obsession with the cat
#1: Socialize dogs and cats early on
Early socialization can prevent an obsession from happening in the first place.
Make sure your puppy is socialized by introducing them to other people and pets.
However, these introductions must be in a controlled environment. Don’t force your dog if they don’t feel like meeting other people and animals.
Being socialized can help when it’s time for your dog and cat to meet. Your dog is less likely to see your cat as something they want to terrorize.
In addition, teach your puppy that chasing a cat is not a fun game. Doing so means solving the problem before it becomes an ingrained behavior.
One way to do this is to manage the interactions between them. By all means necessary, don’t let it get to a point that your dog has chased your cat.
So before it even happens, redirect your dog’s attention. Which I’ll cover next.
#2: Redirect your dog’s attention
Does your dog’s obsession entail terrorizing the poor cat? Don’t give your dog a chance to do it.
It means you have to help your dog focus on other things except for the cat. In other words, redirect the behavior.
If your dog notices your cat, a recall will come in handy. Call your pooch’s name to put their focus on you. This helps prevent the chances of your dog going on a full chase.
Aside from recall, give your dog something to do. A simple ‘sit’ or ‘down’ command will do. Then reward them for obeying.
#3: Introduce your dog and cat properly
One mistake you could do is letting your pets make the introductions by themselves. It might not end well for one or both of them.
Before doing the introduction, make sure your dog has already been crate trained.
The first step is to get them used to see each other.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Put your dog inside the crate and give them their favorite toy. Or an attention-occupying toy such as a Stuffed Kong.
- Let your cat in the room.
- Do this in brief sessions at first. The idea here is to make them feel safe around each other.
- Gradually lengthen the sessions.
If they remain calm around each other, you can proceed to the next step.
The next interactions should go like this:
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Let your cat in the room briefly.
- Lengthen the sessions when they get used to each other’s presence.
Note: Don’t forget to reward them with praise and treats when they are calm. You want to reinforce this behavior when they are together.
#4: Teach your dog to be nice
Your dog and cat having an amicable relationship is possible.
And it starts with training.
An adult dog can be trained to like, or at least tolerate your cat. But you’ll have a great advantage if your dog is still a puppy.
They’re still learning and this is the perfect time to teach them to get along with your cat.
When you train them, do it regularly and continuously. This is important because the changes won’t happen overnight.
But regular training will give you better results.
Let’s start with desensitization and counterconditioning. These two are best done at the same time.
Desensitization is exposing your dog to the stimulus so that they’ll eventually get used to it
So how do you do it?
Expose them to your cat at a distance that is comfortable for your dog. But make sure that your dog sees the cat.
Gradually lessen the distance between your dog and cat. The goal is to close the distance until the pets can be face to face comfortably.
While doing this session, do some counterconditioning. It is a process of changing your dog’s reaction to a stimulus.
A good way to do this is by associating the stimulus with something good, such as treats.
Here’s how you can countercondition your dog:
When they see your cat, give your dog a treat. Keep doing this.
Your dog will learn that whenever they see the cat, they get the good stuff from you.
#5: Look at that
Look at that is a game that can help your dog and cat get along.
Its goal is to find out your dog’s threshold. And then have them together without any fighting or chasing going on. The threshold is when your dog sees the cat but responds to your recall.
The game also teaches your dog that something else is better than cat fixation. And that is getting treats from you.
To find out your dog’s threshold, ask a friend for help. Have them bring your cat at some distance.
Remember, a threshold will be different for dogs. It could be 15 feet. Or 10 feet.
When your dog barks or lunges at the cat, you’ve gone past the threshold
As soon as your dog looks at the cat, use a verbal marker. And then give them a treat.
A verbal marker can be a word such as ‘good.’ It will teach your dog that a marker is followed by a treat.
Soon enough they’ll learn to look at you when you say the marker.
Do this 10 times, always marking and giving them a treat each time. If your dog looks at the cat and then at you, move closer to the cat.
Every time your dog barks or stiffens upon seeing the cat, you’ve gone past the threshold. Move back a few steps.
Keep doing these until your dog and cat are together without any problems.
Bonus: Reward, reward, reward
If there’s such a thing as rewarding like crazy, go for it.
It’s one of the things that reinforces a behavior. Particularly if the reward is something that the dog truly wants.
So if your dog shows a calm behavior when your cat is around, reward them like crazy.
Note: Use high-value treats. Give your dog slices of boiled chicken, for example. Something that they don’t get very often.