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DATE 5/1/2016

The Body language of cats and dogs

The Body language of cats and dogs

The most common combination in multiple pet households is cats and dogs. At first glance seems like cats share similar characteristics with dogs that enabled them to be in close proximity with each other. Despite the fact that they lived as part of human settlements for more than 10 000 years, the saying "fighting like cats and dogs" is still relevant today. Yes, they are both domesticated, four- legged mammals with fur that gave birth to their young, but thеse similarities end there.

Domestic cats belong to the Felidae family and are similar in behavior with their relatives in the wild. Just like tigers and leopards, cats are nocturnal, solitary and territorial animals. As obligate carnivores, cats developed a set of hunting skills like climbing, jumping, stalking and chasing to help them acquire food. Dogs, on the other side are day time, highly sociable pack animals that can also eat plants.

Dogs are smarter in verbal communication, making it easier for them to obey commands and learn tricks. Cats are more independent and impossible to train, but on the plus side they can bathe themselves. Think of how hard is to housebreak a puppy, whereas with kittens all you have to do is leave a litter box and leave the rest to their instincts. 

Interesting facts

  • Dogs are marathon runners while cats are sprinters
  • Cats have retractable claws that keeps them sharp
  • Dogs have 42 teeth and cats only 30
  • Cats have 16 hours memory and dogs only 5 min

Differences in body language

The quickest way to know your cat's mood is by looking at her ears. If they are pinned back, watch out because she is really upset. Dogs ears are harder to read because of differences in shape and size between breeds however, if they are pulled back don't be alarmed, that's a "sign of friendly greeting". 

A dog's wagging tail is a sign of playfulness, but your cat moving its tail from side to side its just another sign that she is upset. Kneading with the front paws is a sign of a really happy cat. A dog who licks and chews his paws is probably a sad dog trying to soothe himself. The saying "Eyes are windows to the soul" applies to pets as well.  If your cat is giving you a hard stare with dilated pupils, wide eyes and no blinking, she is provoked and you need to stay away. Squinting eyes that appear smaller means that your dog might be in pain or is stressed. Cats and dogs have the same body posture as they are basically trying to look bigger when they are aggressive, and look smaller when they are afraid.


Article written by Ivana Damcheska who is a biologist, passionate freelance writer and proud owner of two dogs.  

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