You fancy a playful little pup as a friend for your fluffy feline and plan to buy it, but worry that they will fight like cats and dogs — literally.
No problem, because help is at hand. New research at Tel Aviv University (TAU), the first of its kind globally, has suggested that if the cat is adopted before the dog and introduced when still young (less than six and 12 months, respectively), there is a greater chances of their getting along well.
“We found that cats and dogs are learning how to talk each other’s language. It was a surprise that cats can learn how to talk ‘dog’ and vice versa,” observed Joseph Terkel of TAU. The far-reaching implications of TAU research on cats and dogs may extend beyond pets — to people who don’t get along, including neighbours, colleagues at work, and even world superpowers.
“This is the first time anyone has done scientific research on pets living in the same home,” said Terkel, TAU department of zoology. “It’s especially relevant to the third of Americans who own a pet and are thinking about adopting a second one of the opposite species,” Terkel added.
After interviewing almost 200 pet owners who own both a cat and a dog, then videotaping and analysing these animals’ behaviour, TAU researchers concluded that cats and dogs can cohabit happily if certain conditions are met. Terkel and graduate student Neta-li Feuerstein found that two-thirds of the homes they surveyed reported a positive relationship between their cat and dog.
But it wasn’t all sweetness and light. There was a reported indifference between the cat and dog in 25 per cent of the homes, while aggression and fighting were observed in 10 per cent of the homes. Cats and dogs may not have been able to read each other’s body cues.
For instance, cats tend to lash their tails about when mad, while dogs growl and arch their backs. What’s especially interesting is that both cats and dogs appeared to grow beyond their instincts. They can learn to read each other's body signals.