Can Dogs and Cats Be Friends? + 6 Tips to help them Get Along


Translated by Nick R

It’s now common that people to want to have many pets at home, and they sometimes decide to have two different species: dog and cat.

We have always thought that dogs and cats are natural enemies, but can they become friends and be a family?

Why cats and dogs don’t get along? 

It’s usually believed that these two pet species hate each other and could never live together because of their legendary rivalry, however, this is not exactly as we think.

First of all, some dogs, when they see a cat (and haven’t had a friendly relationship with one before), will immediately go chasing after him. This doesn’t really mean that he hates them or that he will never be able to live with one; it’s simply that his hunting instinct is triggered by seeing an animal smaller than him.

Such an instinct is not only going to appear in felines, but also in mice or insects. Besides, it will also depend on the dog’s own personality, since not all of them react in the same way and some of them may have a better-developed hunting instinct.

On the other hand, cats are often more defensive, cautious, and constantly aware of what is going on around them. So when they see a canine, they get scared because they see them as a threat and decide to run away. Likewise, as both the dog and the cat are predators, they may fight for territory.

However, instinct is not the whole problem, dogs and cats communicate very differently, a gesture of annoyance from a feline (like wagging the tail) can be a gesture of happiness for the canine.

For this reason, I’ll now talk about the personalities of each of these animals.

Note: these personality traits are generic, they may not apply in some cases due to various factors that may shape the way the animal deals with its environment.

Cat Personality 

Cats tend to be more independent and detached from their owners, usually not very needy for attention or affection. However, this may vary depending on the individual’s personal experience.

In a study called “The feline five: An exploration of personality in pet cats”, the personalities of more than 2,000 domestic cats were analyzed.

It concluded that domestic cats can have 5 personality dimensions:

Nervous or neurotic: we can detect this type of personality when the cat shows anxiety in certain situations, he is very shy either with people or animals (or both), and when facing a surprise or unexpected stimulus he runs away and hides.

Dominant: these cats can behave aggressively with others, always trying to dominate and defend their territory.

Impulsive: these felines tend to have erratic behaviors. Their great energy makes them act in the wrong way in every situation because they don’t adapt well. This means that they will always react and act differently and will surprise you with their behavior.

Friendly: they are quite affectionate; they like to socialize and relate more easily with other animals and humans.

Extraverted: they are quite energetic, like to explore everything, are very curious, and can get bored easily so they need stimulation to entertain themselves.

Dog Personality 

Dogs are (commonly) more social and friendly with humans and other animals than cats, but we also know that each canine has his own personality that depends on his experiences and upbringing.

A study published in the Journal of Research in personality talks about how the personality of dogs can vary by factors such as age and the relationship with their owners.  So, just as we humans change as we grow older, so do canines, we have surely observed that as they grow older they have less energy, are less affectionate than before, or may be interested in other things.

On the other hand, it has often been said that “dogs take after their owners” … And, well, it’s true. The personality of the owner will also have a big impact on the personality of the furry one.

According to the research (which also analyzed the personality of the owners), it was deduced that dogs that tended to have anxiety or nervousness had an owner with these same traits, probably a very introverted and shy person. And the more active and energetic canines had an extroverted owner with these same personality traits.

So, dogs are a reflection of their owner, although their personality will vary as time goes by and they move from puppy to adult, to senior dog.

Can dogs and cats live together in the same space? 

Of course, they can! Canines and felines, as I said before, are not actual enemies. However, they must be introduced properly to avoid their natural instincts turning against each other.

Likewise, coexistence will also depend on whether the animal has already had bad experiences with the other species or is very aggressive with other animals. In this case, it would be advisable to contact a veterinarian specializing in ethology to manage the behavior of the animal in question.

Tips to make your cat and dog best friends 

Now, here are some tips to help you succeed in introducing these two different species to each other so they can become great friends.

Best time for them to meet 

The best time to introduce a cat and a dog is when they’re puppies, as they are both in a socialization stage where they will learn to relate to people and other animals.

It’s much easier for them to get used to each other and understand the language and the way the other species plays and communicates.

However, you may already have an adult cat or dog and want to introduce a new family member, so you can follow the steps below.

First meeting 

Their first meeting is crucial. They need to be able to see each other, but they need to be away from each other as we don’t know how they will react, and you need to avoid making it a bad experience for both of them.

To do this, you can adapt a space (such as a room) where they can see each other, but without touching. Now read the third tip so you know how to bring them closer together while keeping them both safe.

How to handle the first meeting properly 

You’ll want to keep the canine on a leash so he doesn’t chase or pounce on the feline. This doesn’t mean that he will attack (in some cases) but dogs are usually more impulsive and don’t control their emotions well, whether it is anger, nervousness, or happiness, unless they are well trained.

Contrary to the dog, let the cat run loose, but allow it to have accessible hiding places or places to climb so that it feels less insecure.

Normally cats are more cautious and not the kind of animal that attacks first, they prefer to run away.

On the other hand, you can also have some kind of partition (like a fence) in a room or separate some sides of the house. The dog will be in one side and the cat in the other, but they should be able to observe each other.

Likewise, you can enclose your cat in a cage from time to time (like the ones used to transport them to different places in a safe way) and let the canine walk around the house and get used to the space.

Note: you must always be alert and control all interactions at the beginning, so if you are not going to be there, it’s best to keep them apart.


It will take some time for your pets to adapt to each other. To help them with this transition, you can put some clothes on them for a while and switch those clothes between them. The scent of the other will help them adapt.

Also, you could bring them closer so they can observe each other, for example, if there is someone else with you, one person could hold the cat and the other the dog, they can sit or be in separate corners of the room but both animals can analyze each other.

You can do this several times before introducing them so they are not surprised by each other’s presence.

Individual spaces and objects 

Both animals must have their own objects, whether they are toys, food cups, blankets or bedding. Everything should be separated and each one should know which one is theirs, this way you will also avoid territory problems, especially with the pet you already had at home.

Closeness and coexistence 

Finally, when you observe that both have become accustomed to seeing each other and are not defensive towards the other, you can bring them closer together little by little. Keep the dog always on the leash, with a firm grip, and lift the cat to bring him closer so that they can smell each other and get to know each other more closely.

They should be a few centimeters away from each other where the dog can’t bite him if it happens or where the cat can’t stretch its paw and scratch the dog.

If you see that they react positively when they are close enough, you can release them little by little (always under your supervision) so they can get to know each other more freely.

Once they are confident in one another, they can start to play. Considering cats’ and dogs’ different behaviors, it’s normal that at the beginning they have to adapt to each other’s demands to avoid problems. You just have to be attentive the first few times they play together to make sure they don’t accidentally hurt each other while playing.

So yes, with the right precautions, dogs and cats can be friends and live together perfectly without problems. Surely at some point, you have seen a video on the internet of these two species playing peacefully. If you want to achieve this, you just have to be patient and follow the steps I explained.