When it comes to why dogs and cats fight, it’s pretty simple. We interviewed Dr. Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, Ph.D. at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to learn what can be done.
The main reason why cats and dogs fight is because the dog is a predator, and in the dog’s mind, the cat is prey. You must observe their behavior. Those that chase with the intent to kill is the behavior you look for that may result in rehoming one of the animals.
They test for this behavior in the shelter, but in some cases, it’s missed entirely. Always have this in the back of your mind when you bring home a new dog or puppy. Work with a trainer or animal behaviorist if you think this is a possibility.
If the dog spends time staring at a cat in the carrier when you’re doing safe introductions, then you’re also likely going to have an issue. (In a shelter setting they typically put the dog with a room of cats where you’ll get a different reaction).
“I’ve had a variety of scenarios. Sometimes you need to separate the cat from the dog. You need a cat tree that the cat can climb up, so the cat is safe. Dogs will react to the front of the cat differently than they will the back of the cat. The front of the cat will be intimidating if their paw is up,” said Dr. Houpt regarding why cats and dogs fight.