Written by Josephine Lategan
We know that cats and dogs like to chase different things. The situation becomes sticky when they live together, or cross paths as neighbour things or stranger things, and dog goes after kitty.
It might be a game; or there might be more to it. “Something small and furry like a cat will naturally trigger the prey drive in your dog,” explains Wag Walking. “Instinct kicks in.” This doesn’t mean the dog wants to eat the cat. In many human households, dogs and cats accept each other as kin and even play together. But they play differently. Dogs play ‘chase’ and ‘catch’ with other dogs as pups and adults; cats grow out of it soon as they hit adolescence (when they become fertile and start mating). With one party wanting to chase for fun or food, and the other only chasing for food, both often misinterpret the situation – especially as they don’t speak the same language.
Distinct species, different body language cues
Dogs and cats can miscommunicate. One way dogs say ‘hi’ is with a tail in the sky. Wag wag. Cats with a tail up are saying ‘oy, you might be a problem’, so when Dog says ‘hi’ (wag wag), cats may be thinking, “uh oh I’m outta here”. And the dog might think, “oh, she wants to play, yay!”. The inherent contrasts in these forms of canine and feline communication often lead to immediate conflict, at least in both species’ minds, and that means … fight or flight.
From pooch’s perspective
It can be a sore game. When cats let dogs know that they don’t want to play chase with their claws and jaws (fight), dogs are left with the post-encounter effects and often slink away to lick their scratches (avoiding cats for a while … or forever).
From kitty’s perspective
But dogs are generally larger than cats (or, in the case of Yorkies, have larger-than-life personalities), and on top of it, cats can be extremely sensitive creatures. So, kitty bolts (flight). Wouldn’t you rather be safely up in a tree than scrambling around on the ground with an over-eager pooch?
Caught in a loop
Cats sprinting away from a perceived annoyance or danger only makes the canid creature run after them faster. Round and round the garden. Sigh.
It seems a sad cycle, unless you realise that – as the human in the household – you have some sway. You can train dog not to chase Kitty.
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