Do Cats Like Dogs? Are They Happy Living Together?

By Category: Cat Behavior, Cats And Dogs, Outside Cats
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do cats like dogs? Some of us do. Try these tips for bringing an outside cat in and introducing him to your dog.

Many cats like dogs.

Some cats like dogs enough to share a box with them.

Do cats like dogs, Thomasina? A cat has been living on my deck for months, and I’d like to invite him to come in. I don’t want him to hate living with my dog though.
— Maybe Future Cat Mom

Hey Future Cat Mom…

I’m so glad you asked before you brought the cat in! Yes, some cats like dogs. And some dogs like cats. It all depends on the personalities. 

Before I answer your question, I have some questions for you though. Do you know where the cat came from? Are you sure someone’s not looking for him? Check out this article on what to do when you find a stray cat. Our human wrote it!

I’m wondering, too, if the cat will be able to go out once he comes in. Most cats who have lived outside are not happy living strictly indoors. 

I’m assuming the cat and dog already know each other since the cat has been living on your deck. So here are some ways to help cats like dogs when they live together indoors.

Before The Cat Comes In

Although the dog and cat probably know each other outside, everything can seem different when the cat is inside. The dog might be confused and wonder if that’s really his friend in the kitchen. And the cat could be terrified.  
I hope you’ll let the cat go back out right away if he’s scared or the dog’s being disagreeable. Don’t force him to stay in. You can try again another time. Sometimes we build friendships in baby steps. 
But before you even get that far.

    • Your dog should know and be willing to obey such basic commands as “sit,” “stay” and “leave it.”
    • Create a dog-free zone (not the basement!) for the cat. Plan on putting his food up high where the dog can’t get to it. Remember, cats and dogs have different eating styles. Dogs gulp their food and finish it in a few bites. Cats graze and like to eat several small meals every day. The cat’s litter box should also be someplace where the dog can’t get to it. A walk-through pet gate is a good way to create a separate space for the cat. Also plan on some high places for cat beds.
    • The cat needs a separate water bowl. Cats taste their water, and many of us don’t like water that tastes like dog! 

When The Cat Comes In

Put a leash on the dog before the cat comes inside. Cats like dogs, but not when they’re in our faces or jumping all over us!
When the cat ventures inside, reward both him and the dog with treats. 

But don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re sure they’re getting along and the cat is safe. This could take several days or even weeks. When you can’t be with them, encourage the cat to go outside or put him in his dog-free zone behind the pet gate. 


Cats Like Dogs When The Dogs Are Trainable
Cats and dogs speak different languages, and, at first, we can misunderstand each other. For instance, when a cat approaches someone with her tail up, she’s saying she wants to be friends. But an upright tail is challenging body language for a dog. 
Your deck cat might have already found this out. But that upright tail can be a great training tool for cats. When we approach dogs with our tails up, the dogs think we’re in charge and do exactly as we say.

Tails can lead to other misunderstandings, too. Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy. We wag ours when we’re angry. A smart dog will quickly learn to stay away from his cat when she’s wagging her tail, unless he wants to get scratched! 
And here’s another difference. Dogs roll over on their backs to show submission. Cats roll over on their backs when we’re ready to fight. Never let your dog approach the cat when he’s on his back. Those back claws could do some serious damage! 


Friends For Life


Cats and dogs can become close friends for life.

Cats and dogs can become close friends for life.

Cats and dogs who live together can become friends for life if their personalities are compatible and their home is set up properly. Just make sure the cat has high places and his dog-free zone so he can get away from the dog when he wants to. And train the dog to not chase the cat.

Breeds that may require additional training to live successfully with cats are terriers that were originally bred to hunt vermin, sight hounds with a strong desire to chase and herding dogs. That said, I have a cat friend who loves her greyhound and sleeps with her all the time.  

Bringing An Outside Cat In

I can tell you this from personal experience because I lived outside in an alley until I was almost three years old. 

If your deck cat wants to continue living outside, let that be his choice. Give him a warm shelter so he can get out of the rain and cold, and he’ll be a happy cat. 

When he does come in, let him leave the minute he wants to. Don’t force him to stay inside if he doesn’t want to. 

I hope this helps, Future Cat Mom. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get going now. I want to see if my friend Smoky is outside. He loves to go for walks with his dog, and sometimes Muffitt and I tag along. 

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