Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Can We Be Friends?
Why Is Fluffy Attacking Scruffy?
You may be wondering if you read the title right, yes it's How to Stop Cats From Attacking Dogs. We are so used to the image of dogs chasing cats, attacking cats and even eating cats for breakfast, or as a quick dessert, that thinking the opposite sounds really odd. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that television shows and newspaper strips are overpopulated by images of canine-to-feline aggression. All it takes is watching cartoons boasting Hector chasing Sylvester and Spike chasing Tom, and soon cat-chasing behaviors seem to be normal behaviors just as cats chasing mice. Yet, what do you do if it's the other way around? Wait, did I hear right?
Well, believe or not, there are cases of kitties turning wild and attacking dogs! I did have clients come up to me and ask me what to do about it. After reminding them I am a dog trainer and not a cat trainer, I did own cats and dogs at the same time in my life and my advice has been helpful to them many times. Luckily, in many ways dogs and cats behave in the same ways, so it does not take rocket science at times to apply a bit of knowledge in learning theory and apply part of it to cats. For a good reason, many dog behaviorists are also cat behaviorists, and interestingly, the number of cat behaviorists is growing at a steady rate and so are shows about dealing with cat behaviors.
So why is Fluffy attacking Scruffy? Just like when dealing with aggressive dogs, there can be many reasons. It could be prey drive, just as some cats like to chase and bite your ankles as you walk by or lay in bed, some bold cats may decide to play rough and attack Fido. However, more likely than not, I see a fear component at play. It all ultimately depends on the circumstances and what happens.
If Rover is being boisterous, rest assured, more likely than not the attack was not unprovoked, Fluffy is just tired and telling the dog to stop. Most dogs, are not that great in reading cat body language, or some may care less, so after sending dozens of "leave me alone" signals which go ignored, sweet Snowball may go quickly to plan B and decide to attack rowdy Rover. Most cats are by nature aloof, reserved, and some barely accept being pet for more than a few minutes, so it makes sense for kitty to have had enough after your dog has been in her face for more than a handful of minutes!
Most cats will most likely flee if they have had enough, but if the cat is cornered and feels threatened, a scratch or bite is often the next option. So when your cat can't flee, expect your cat to resort to plan B and follow through!
How to Stop Your Cat From Attacking Your Dog
Twiddling your thumbs as you try to figure out why your cat is attacking your dog is pretty useless at this point, you really need to become proactive to prevent trouble. Countless dogs get corneal ulcers from being scratched by a cat and a bite can turn quickly infectious. Also, a dog may get defensive as well and cause serious harm to your cat. You really need to intervene to keep everybody safe. So here is what you can do:
This is by far your best option as you try to figure out your plan of action. Through management, you are basically keeping everybody safe. So let's say, Rover pesters Fluffy and Fluffy attacks because she has no escape route? Then you will provide that escape route. Make sure you create areas that are accessible to Fluffy only so she has a safe place to go and rest assured Fido will not follow. A baby gate with a small entrance on the bottom, a cat tree, or a high window perch is all it takes. Other options are keeping cat and dog separated when you are not able to supervise. While this sounds like common sense, often the most common solutions are bypassed.
Is your cat stressed by a new dog in the home? Have there been recently new changes? Cats look pretty much like strong creatures, but they are very sensitive to the slightest changes. If your cat is stressed and overreacts, she is over threshold levels and this sort of stress is self-reinforcing.
Basically, since your cat's aggressive behavior works in keeping your cat safe and in making Rover leave, it is reinforcing. Basically, your cat thinks that because hissing and scratching keeps her safe and makes your dog leave or makes you come right away to stop the interaction, it needs to be repeated. Just think about being in school and dealing with a bully, if every time you scream and try to slap the bully, the bully backs off or your teacher comes readily to your aid, most likely you will continue the screaming and slapping behavior.
So to change things around, you need your cat to feel safer and calmer. You may find that some over-the-counter products such as a Feliway plug-in or Composure soft chews may help as you try to work on the problem.
Some cats have a strong prey drive and will chase and pester poor Rover. Usually, cats will do so with smaller dogs or puppies. Many will love to pounce on that wiggly tail! But as the puppy grows cats may learn to choose size wisely and better not mess with the big beast. In such a case, it helps to redirect your cat to a more acceptable form of play. When you start noticing the behavior, try to interrupt the interaction and grab kitty's attention by dragging a string with a piece of aluminum foil attached. She should go for the new toy since it is a novelty and leave poor Rover alone. Make sure your cat has plenty of catnip toys, and even some interactive ones to keep her interest alive. Some advice is to attach a leash to the dog so the cat plays with the leash rather than the dog, but the leash can be caught somewhere so I do not feel too comfortable with this piece of advice.
Cats are prone to a behavioral problem known as cat re-directed aggression. Basically, they may see a trigger outdoors, get highly excited and then re-direct on poor Fido, and sometimes, even the owner. If this is the case, it helps to block access to windows and prevent the cat from seeing the outdoors. Placing kitty in a dark room, will help calm down Cujo-Kitty.
Dogs are not the only ones to be possessive; cats can be too! Your cat may not be that eager to see Rover putting his face in your cat's food bowl or sniffing her litter box. If your cat has never shared the home with a dog, this may be quite annoying to deal with. If your cat acts aggressively, whenever your dog approaches any resources (food, toys, sleeping areas, play areas) your cat may be attacking due to possessiveness. Make sure you prepare a separate area just for kitty, and do the same for Rover, he can get upset too if kitty approaches his bone or food bowl and it won't be pretty!
Stress may be a temporary problem and prey drive can be re-directed, but in some cases, the levels of energy of cat and dog are too different. Animal behaviorist Dr. Gary Landsberg claims:
"The biggest problems are related to specific compatibility issues where the dog is too playful and the cat is too fearful [or] a cat that is fearful and aggressive and a dog that does not know how to react."
In this, case it is worth wondering what you can do to make life much better. In such cases, it may be kinder to keep the two animals always separated and if this is not an option, re-homing one or the other is in the best interest in your animals. If you have had your cat for a long time, and you have a new puppy, you are better off re-homing the puppy. For this reason, it is best thinking well over new additions. Impulsively adding a new pet, as in this case, can be deleterious.
Desensitization and counter-conditioning work in cats too! Make sure you reward your kitty when she sees Fido and behaves. You may need to do this from a safe distance first and then increasingly allow closer encounters. If kitty gets nervous at any point, work from a farther distance.
Note: if puppy or dog is the troublemaker, it is helpful to train your dog better self-control. The "leave it" command is helpful in such a case. To learn more about the command, read this article about the importance of training dogs the "leave it" command.
How to Stop a Cat Attacking a Dog in Its Tracks
What to do in the case your cat is actively fighting with your dog and you need to make it stop? As among dog fights, yelling may serve no purpose other than increasing arousal levels in both cat and dog. These strategies may prove more helpful:
- Make a sudden startling loud noise such as banging two pot lids together.
- Toss some water over the contenders using a bucket or water from a hose.
- Throw a blanket over cat and dog.
- Never get in between cat and dog, doing so may make you prone to re-directed aggression!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: My dog isn't ever boisterous, he just lays around on his spot doing nothing. The cat just attacks him without provocation or warning. Why?
Answer: It could be many things, predatory behavior, stress, anxiety, and in some cases, even play (if the body language suggests that).
Question: My cat has been with my dog for over two years but recently started attacking the dog. It's rather scary; the cat just goes crazy. We have been supervising the cat and dog and when not home the cat is locked downstairs. Do you have anymore suggestions?
Answer: It may help determine whether your cat may be ill or stressed. Feliway may help some cats calm down. Some cats get very aroused or stressed if they see things out of the window and then redirect it to people or other pets. Blocking windows may help if this is a case of redirected aggression.
Question: I introduced a new puppy to my three cats. My older dog passed earlier this year, so I didn’t think there would be a problem. The two older cats have accepted him, but after roughly six weeks my youngest cat continues to attack the puppy for no reason. What can I do?
Answer: You are likely seeing a stressed cat who is redirecting on the puppy for some reason. It is difficult dealing with stressed cats or cats prone to redirected aggression. You can try calming aids (Feliway, calming products) and providing your cat with areas to retreat to if the puppy's boisterous behavior stresses the cat. You may have to keep the puppy and cat separated though if this continues as injuries to the puppy are possible (especially the puppy's eyes).
© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli
Mean Machine on August 15, 2020:
Smack the darn cat hard across the face!!!!
Alfred on July 09, 2020:
I have two chihuahua dogs and a Siamese mixed cat. They have always behaved so well together,in fact,my senior dog helped me "raised" her as I found my cat outside back when she was days old.(she haven't opened her eyes yet) They were doing well until two days ago when my cat attacked both of my dogs and wouldn't stopped until I pulled them away. I separated them and when I thought they were calm I left them to interact again. I was watching them the whole day and they have been doing well,acting as nothing had happened,that is until the night came. We were going to sleep when my dog headed to the room first,the door was opened and my cat started staring weirdly at her and before I knew it she chased after her and attacked her even when my dog was escaping she chased her and kept going. Due to that I ended picking one of my dogs and my cat. I shielded my dog from my cat and got deep scratches. I know I shouldn't had grabbed her like that but she was intent on attacking my dogs and even my bro whom just arrived to help. After all the mess my cat seemed to be eerie calm and whimpered for me to hug her and let her inside the room with the dogs.
Drema on June 16, 2020:
We have a 9 year old dog who has lived with us since he was a young puppy. He had never lived with another dog or a cat. A little over a year ago my husband and I had to move in with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. They have an 11 year old cat who has been with them since he was a kitten. The dog and cat had been introduced to each other on occasion, when we visited for the day. We kept our dog on a leash at first while we worked hard to teach him it was not ok to chase the cat. He eventually did learn that rule. When it became necessary to move in together, the dog and cat tolerated each other uneasily. There were a few incidents of the cat hissing and growling at the dog, and one incident of him running up behind the dog and scratching him. That startled and hurt the dog, who turned and ferociously barked and snarled, which scared the cat. Afterwards, they went back to tolerating each other, watching warily at times, but neither attacked the other. Recently we have had a couple of times where the cat chased and swatted at the dog, but no real fight developed, and it blew over. But a few days ago, something leaning against the wall happened to slide down a make a big crash while both the cat and dog were in the room as well. It startled both, and the dog instinctively ran for the stairs to go to our bedroom. The cat then, instinctively chased him, scratching the whole way up. I think they both thought the other caused the startling incident. The cat was on full on attack mode, and the dog was terrified from the noise, and the cat attacking made it even worse. Now the dog is absolutely terrified of the cat, and the cat knows it! He has begun literally charging at the dog, even from other rooms, attacking him every chance he gets. The dog is now scared to even leave our bedroom. This morning, the attack was the worst ever, and the dog was scratched and bleeding from his rear area, nose, and face right by his eye. The cat has suddenly become unbelievably aggressive, and truly injures the dog. He will come charging from other rooms to attack the dog just at the sight of him. The dog is terrified, and runs, so the cat chases, and it gets even worse in the process. We had none of this extreme aggression for the first 15 months of living together, but now it’s uncontrollable! How do we even begin to defuse this?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2020:
Hi Melanie, you would have to be really attentive to what happens before these attacks, the antecedents, if you will. It could be she has seen something overly stimulating/frightening from a window and is re-directing towards your dog. If that's the case, it may help reducing this type of stimulation and keeping your cat away from your dog. Of course, this is only a possibility of many. It could be your cat is sick, stressed or may be sensing something from your dog that we can't easily detect (could be she had a seizure? is walking differently? has a different smell?) Several possibilities, and you are right to be concerned about this occurring again so please monitor them carefully and have a plan in place to reduce this.
Melanie on June 15, 2020:
I have had my dog for 11 years and two years ago I got a kitten who is basically brought up with my dog my dog is part Pomeranian and Chihuahua.So this happened twice where my dog was outside and she came in there was no other animals around but my cat sniffed her and looked at her like she was strange and attacked her for no reason the first time my cat scratched her and the second time it was an all out brawl now my dog is scared of her and my cat is very timid now. I’m very upset about the situation because I don’t want to leave them alone because I’m scared that my cat will attack her again this is very scary for me because I get scared that my dog will get severely injured. Any ideas??
Kate on April 21, 2020:
I got a new pup (2.5 months) and my older cat is very curious about him and comes into the room constantly to see him. We've had 3 incidents of where the cat attacked him and scratched him. When he sees the dog his entire facial expression changes and he stares at the cat, low body and walks straight towards him. We take the dog away as we are not sure what to do. The cat doesn't appear fearful as he approaches from all the way across the room and even from another room. Weve done sessions where the dog was in the crate and the cat investigated him but it's been 3 weeks now...
Kimberly on April 04, 2020:
Jus got a new puppy and the 4 month old kitten wants to play badass, will this eventually end without some serious bloodshed
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 26, 2020:
Kyky, sounds like that collar caused your cat not to recognize your dog anymore and that really startled him. Then, all cats redirected on each other. I would keep all separated for now in quiet rooms until they get calmer, remove the collar from your dog and gradually let them meet at a distance behind a barrier possibly until they seem calmer around each other but always monitor them because this can happen again if your cat/cats are now on edge. If you have a blanket that smells like your dog, let your cats smell it and maybe try feeding cat treats on it to create positive associations.
Kyky on March 26, 2020:
We have 3 cats and 1 dog which are or were the best of friends but today that all changed... it was hot so we put a cool collar on the dog and all of a sudden my eldest cat went mad attacking the dog then the 2 youngest joined in attacking my eldest cat plus each other and the dog.. and now they are all in separate rooms as they wont get along both my eldest and 1 of the youngest growls and hisses everytime they see the dog and then it all happens all over again... i just dont know what to do to get them the best of friends again.. can anyone help me.
Fiona on March 12, 2020:
we have had a rescue cat from the shelter for 2 months he was nervous with our 2 lurchers but we introduced them slowly which seemed fine but this week he has started being really aggressive to the dogs hissing and chasing them . any ideas?
Marion doherty on March 02, 2020:
My cat sits outside my front door very placid as soon as a dog walks by he attack’s it
Tay on February 29, 2020:
My 5 year old female cat, Willow, just recently started attacking our dogs (golden retrievers), very calm and quiet dogs, the male is a senior so basically is a sleepy sweetheart..
They have lived together now for more than a year without any issue.
(I've had the cat since she was 6months old)
And suddenly she attacked my dog after she tried to come onto my lap. Since then, she has attacked each dog twice.
What's weird to me is that she's usually the one to go up to them, then seems to freak out, hisses and swings at them..
I don't really know what to do and am afraid this might escalate...
Vis on February 25, 2020:
I have a 13 year old cat and I introduced a new dog to her, when she was five. She hissed at him for a month or so, and then she stopped and became friends. I think. She doesn't like when he tries to sniff her butt or play, because he is not delicate at all.
There are instances though, that make me scared actually. I regularly play with my cat and dog. Jackson Galaxy says that playing is great and healthy for cats, because it helps them release excessive amounts of energy. So when I play with my cat, she gets very excited and sometimes, when doggy comes nearby, I notice her pupils widen and she wiggles her butt, and then she leaps at him, with her claws exposed, and I'm terrified, because she targets his eyes. She never really hurt him, but it's disturbing anyway. And I don't know what to do.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 20, 2020:
Dawn, I think the problem with that is that your kitty feels trapped and doesn't like to be carried around with movement. I haven't really used any before, but I assume it would take some time getting used to it and a gradual approach may be needed. You can try to spray the rucksack with Feliway and praise your cat and reward with tasty foods when he approaches it and then everytime you place him in it, give tasty foods. Gradually increase the time he's put in it. Also, maybe practice holding him in your arms every day and feeding tasty treats so he gets used to movement. Make sure to not let him ever feel scared or trapped in it as that only increases the negativity.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 20, 2020:
Connorfoster, I feel that most cats that attack dogs do so out of stress, or because dogs get in their space too much when cats want to be left alone. It would be important making sure that the cat has safe places to retreat to where the dog cannot go. Also, pheromone plug-ins (Feliway) may help some cats and you may need to employ behavior modification methods such as desensitization and counterconditioning, but to be effective you would need the help of a professional. Also, it would help to have the dog trained to be better under control (leave it, stay, recalls). Good luck!
Dawn on February 19, 2020:
I have recently adopted a blind kitten he has been blind since 4 weeks old due to neglect by the breeder he is settling j really well and is a very brave wee boy nothing phases him. We are trying to train him to a cat rucksack so he can accompany us on walks with the dog. So far unsuccessfully can you give any advice on how to do this he’s happy on a harness and lead but nit the bag
Connorfoster on February 05, 2020:
Hi, I’m really hoping you can help!! We have a 3-4 year old cat who we got from a shelter. She’s so chill and good with people but we introduced her to a dog and the dog lowered its head because she wanted her to lick her head and our cat attacked the dog. When we’ve dog sittted we’ve had to keep them separate because she gets on edge and aggressive. Due to personal circumstances we’re both having to move back home with our parents but there’s animals either side and we can’t take her. If we were to take her it would be with me where there’s a small but lively dog in the flat. Is there anything that can be done to try and help them get on?? I’m really stuck as I don’t want to have to rehome her. Thanks for your help
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2019:
JD, I got down into a cat's mind to write this as I know dogs can get quite boisterous around cats. Most cases of cats attacking dogs I have seen occurred because of this.
I hear you though, now that I read your comment. I wrote this back in 2012 when my dogs were young and they were often wanting to be around cats who didn't want anything to do with them. A spat of the paw was sometimes needed to say "leave me alone" but lots of cats were actually quite tolerant. It's also true though that my dogs responded always well to our "leave its" as soon as we noticed they would insist in certain interactions.
Back then, I didn't really write this much thinking about older dogs who may be arthritic or just wished to be left alone. Or dogs who may recovering from an illness, fearful dogs or just the occasional case of a cat really being the trouble maker. So yes, cats can also be annoying at times, but I just think it's usually the other way around more often than not.
JD on December 24, 2019:
Wow! From the way you talk down about dogs in the article, it seems like you really don't like them. I was surprised to scroll back to the top of the page and not only see a picture of you with dogs, but also see you're a dog trainer! Huh.
My brother, who I live with, has just adopted a stray cat, and she constantly will run and slap at my dog unprovoked. She watches him as he roams the house, and crouches low as if she wants to pounce on him. It maybe just play from a new kitten, but it makes my dog highly uncomfortable. He attempts to get in my lap, or hide behind my legs. I'm upset with this as he is 10 years old and I don't want him to feel so on edge in his own house.
She has her own spaces walled off by pet gates, and my dog tries to avoid her because of her behaviour, so this idea that cat attacks are to be expected because of dogs inherent bad behaviour is ridiculous and pretty biased.
I understand what you are trying to say about the difference between cat and dog behaviours and the difficulties in interpreting what the other wants. But the article definitely seems to have an accusatory tone aimed solely at dogs with cats portrayed as completely innocent beings. The bolding of harsh digs comments definitely doesn't help...
Susan on December 10, 2019:
My cat and dog grew up together. Only a few months apart. We’re BFF’s. We had another dog who passed away 5 years ago. She was 16. No issues between animals. All loved each other. They are both now 10. 5 years ago we got another cat. No problem. 2 years ago another cat. No issues. Then a year and a half ago another cat. About a year ago the 1st cat started just smacking the crap out of the dog. Full claws out. I’ve tried everything to stop it. Not to long ago poor dog got bad painful infection from hit. Every pet in this house is well loved, played with and taken care of. Our sons are teens who adore them and the animals feel the same towards them. There is just no reason. And the cats all get along. The other cats get along with the dog. The dog loves his kitties. The cat in question is healthy. I just can’t figure out why he is doing this! Any advice on why and how to stop it? Thanks
Latasha King on December 05, 2019:
We just took in a stray cat. It doesn't seem to like any of our 3 dogs. What can i do to make it feel more comfortable with them?
Sky Smith on November 27, 2019:
My cat is extremely nervous around our new dog, Tyson (although the dog is very, very gentle towards him). Our cat will hiss at him when he comes near, despite there being a screen door between them. We have had the dog for 2 days. Any tips?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 20, 2019:
Alexisgilbert, it sounds like there were a lot of changes and that you have tried a lot! It is difficult to work on cats who attack randomly because it may be challenging identifying the exact triggers. It sounds like you have identified though one possible trigger "when your dog is next to you." It may help to feed your cat some tasty treats contingent upon you giving your dog attention (desensitization/counterconditioning) if your dog isn't prone to resource guarding, otherwise, best not to give your dog attention in your cat's presence if that's a trigger. This may warrant the help of a cat behaviorist. It may be interesting investigating when your cat attacks your dog when sleeping next to him, is there anything going on? Can it be because your dog moves during sleep? Like REM sleep motions/vocalizations/faster breathing? Can it be your cat was dreaming and woke up startled? Several possibilities there...
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 20, 2019:
Carey, baby steps and lots of positive associations. Cats often attack when they are stressed or don' feel comfortable with an intruder. You can rub your dog with a blanket and them offer that blanket to the cat and place some tasty treats on it. Make sure they have their own space to get adjusted to seeing each other rather than direct exposure (like put a baby gate, pet fence) and let them acclimatize without the cat being able to attack.
Alexisgilbert on October 05, 2019:
I have had my cat for 4 years and my dog for 2 and it’s always been us 3. There has never been an issue between the two until last year when We moved and my boyfriend moved in with us. Then, I had a baby 4 months ago and my cat is out of control! She has started scratching furniture and attacks my dog constantly. My dog is a big baby and is absolutely terrified. They both have their own space and my cat has her toys everywhere. I can see it in my cats eyes when she’s about to attack so I make a loud noise to stop it but there are some times that I can’t. But what’s weird is she’s fine with my dog being next to her and they will sleep next to each other but then seconds later turn around and attack her. She really doesn’t like it when my dog is next to me (which is territorial) but only doesn’t like it some times. Feliway doesn’t work (collar and wall plug), I’ve tried “calming treats” but I’m pretty sure she can tell they are to help calm her down lol. she has clean litter AND the dog doesn’t have access to where her litter is, their food is separated (when I tried to separate water cat didn’t like that), my cats “area” is downstairs and my dog stays upstairs. I make sure my cat gets her separate time with me and so does my dog. I don’t know what else to do to get my cat to stop attacking! Any tips, tricks or ideas?!
Carey Karlberg on October 02, 2019:
My dog keeps being attacked by my friends cat. My dog has no interest in her cat but nonetheless my dog keeps being attacked. My friend has just moved to my town with her feline friend in tow. We spend a lot of time at my friends and it would be really nice to be able to take our little dog without it being attacked by my friends cat. Any help would be much appreciated xx
Rebekah Gibbs on April 12, 2019:
I was walking my GSD and a cat spotted my dog and came running after my dog. My dog wanted to go after the cat too. I had a choke collar on my dog for unforeseen problems and had to use it and it was still hard. I fell to the ground with my shoes in the air. I picked up my shoe and slammed it on the street to try to scare the cat away. It lasted for several minutes. You would think a neighbor would have come out to help. A car drove by and separated the two so I was able to get my dog to walk on forward. Never saw anything like this before? It was a Persian cat ...not to big?
Random name on February 12, 2019:
My puppy gets agressive with me when it comes to taking things away that she knows shes not supposed to have such as garbage and when the puppy growls no matter where our cat is she will come running and attack the dog is it common for cats to be extremely defensive over their owner?
Angelica Belladonna on December 27, 2018:
This is referring to a dog in a cat's face. My cat growled and will stalk my dog whenever she sees him across the room. He avoids walking past her.
Sam on November 24, 2018:
I have 2 dogs , I bought a male cat 5 years ago And recently the cat has started slapping my dogs , all are healthy as have been checked , all have been nurtured, my dogs can be asleep and my cat will go and slap them , I’m so worried they will kill him as powerful dogs , yet other times they all lay together, I have bought fellaway friends which helps a lot , the cat has his safe place and it’s never the dogs. Help
Jessica Crouse on October 15, 2018:
our 7 year old cat aggressively attacked our 6 year dog 4 times 2 days ago. It was completely nuts! She has never been aggressive & has always been a really sweet cat. A little timid & scared but never mean. The fog never provoked her or fought back & kept running from her but she kept at it like she really wanted to hurt him. I took our cat to the vet after this happened & she is in really good health. They gave me some meds to calm her & I had them separated for 2 days. Today I tried to reintroduce them & it was all good for about 2 hours. The cat ran up on the dog but didn’t attack cause he ran away. So I separated them again, they are both indoor animals & used to roaming free in the house. Help please!!!
Amanda on September 11, 2018:
My 10 year old cat, I adopted her at age 8, has always been moody. She'll be purring while I, or anyone, pet her then suddenly bite. Not hard but it's scary. Then she'll purr or go away. When she's hungry she gets angry and will smack the dogs with her clawless paws, for no reason. They aren't even looking at her
Deb on September 03, 2018:
I have a 16 year old 4.5 lb russian toy terrier and a 2.5 year old 14 lb cat. Luna (cat) is very prey driven. She stalks Cruiser (dog). There have been a few attacks since we brought Luna home 5 monrhs ago. We are using a water bottle or loud noise to redirect her. Cruiser seems to get more scared every day.
unknown on July 07, 2018:
We have three cats that we have no intention to get rid of, but we would really like a dog. We were going to dog-sit for a friend, but the second they brought the dog in, the one cat got REALLY defensive. They had to bring the dog to someone else since the cat was hissing, jumping on the dog, biting, and scratching. He even ended up scratching the dog in the eye, which started bleeding. We really don't know how to asses the situation since we would really like a dog. We're not sure how to train the cat to stop this behavior. (the other two cats don't really mind dogs) Even if we got a calm, quiet dog, that wouldn't fight back, the cat would still attack it. What do we do? Please help.
amanda on June 06, 2018:
i just got 2 new kittens about a week ago and the meet them with my other cats have been sorta decent few hissing and growing but no fights but the other problem is my dogs.. one of the kittens doesnt seem to mine the male one.. the female one in the other hand hisses and spits even thru a carrier when she is come when the dog appoaches even sitting she still doesnt get it. i have scent towels by the thier food dishes. i would like to keep this cat but im not sure what else to do any more..
Peachkitty on May 24, 2018:
Great hub! I love this because I'm getting a puppy soon I hope Peachie, who's pretty possessive, won't attack the pupper=3
sally on May 18, 2018:
hello so i just adopted a puppy and i had my cat for 8 years now its been two days now she stays with him in the same room one minute she doesnt have a problem with him and the other minute when she sees him standing she starts to hiss at him and she hits him. its like shess dipolar and im not understanding her behavior. should i be concerened or its a normal thing
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 25, 2018:
Kelly, sounds like you are on the right track. If she reacts this way, she isn't ready for that level of close interaction yet. Keep your dog at the distance she tolerates best, you might need to keep leashed for a while until your cat seems more relaxed and you can allow closer interaction. Make sure your cat is not cornered and has escape routes so she can choose to leave rather than act defensively.
Rosie on January 23, 2018:
Newly adopted 2yr old cat. No record of her history. Very sweet to me, but after 3 weeks has started to attack my senior jack Russell, who isn’t bothering her. She seems to be jealous. Or possessive of me. I don’t know her history, I want it to work out, but there is no change in her aggression toward him.
Kelly on January 14, 2018:
First of, thank you for your article. I've had my dog Amber for 9 years and she's very calm and accepting to all new people/animals. I used to have a cat that she got along very well with. Two days ago I adopted a 7 mo. old female cat, Ava, and my dog was calm and curious to meet her. Unfortunately, the cat acts aggressively toward her and it scares my dog. Initially I kept them separated so that they could get used to each other's smells and the cat could become acclimated. I slowly began to let them out in the same room with supervision. Initially this made the cat growl and hiss. But now (day 2), they are at a point where they tolerate being in the same room with each other, but if the dog gets too close (within a foot or two) of the cat, she swats at her and shows aggression. Is there hope for them? What should my next step be?
Kay on January 05, 2018:
Cat from back yard neighbour cut through my property early am and calls to other cats in aggressive manner. It is on my patio around 4.30 am and wakes my Dane then out front of property with other cats..my problem is when I let two Danes out 6am it decides it will befriend them much to their amazement and I have to chase it with hose. It sprays in my yard and I don't want this crazy cat. ????
Bailey on December 05, 2017:
I have a outside cat he was a stray he is about 9 months now and fat and he trya to kill our puppy sketter he is 8 weeks old when i take sketter outside leo sometimes attacks him.
Lisa on October 29, 2017:
My cat is just playing, but he keeps scratching and biting us, plus our dogs. How do we make him stop. He is about 9 months and has been fixed.
Kimberly nobles on October 24, 2017:
I have 4 animals 2 female dogs one male dog . My cat is female .my cat only harasses my boy only. I don't understand why my cat follows my boy dog around the house harassing him until the other dogs take notice and fight her then she runs
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 10, 2017:
Tina, sorry you find the advice ridiculous, but consider for a moment your setting. There should be no dogs coming in your home or yard like that. Are they your neighbors' dogs? By letting these dogs come all the time, your cat is getting to rehearse the bad behavior which is obviously not good. Practice makes perfect. You can't expect your cat to grow a halo on the head and become angelic if he/she continues to rehearse this behavior. If your cat poops on your bed, why not close him/her in a bathroom or a laundry room with his/her litter box?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 10, 2017:
This part may help "Make sure you reward your kitty (tasty treat) when she/he sees Fido and behaves. You may need to do this from a safe distance first (dog leashed under control) and then increasingly allow closer encounters. If kitty gets nervous at any point, work from a farther distance." Gradual but steady progress may be seen if this is done step=by-step.
Harper on October 10, 2017:
I have 1 year old terrier mix pup who mainly stays with my parents and recently adopted 2 kittens who are 6 months my tuxedo cat does not like my pup at attacks him a lot even stalking him sometimes the poor pup is so fearful he barely moves around the house and hides in my room, I can see he (pup) wants to be friends but is too scared, the other kitten sometimes swats but never with claws but will join his brother to try and jump the pup while the tux will hiss at the pup and try and claw his face even hissing at me when I try to grab the dog. What can I do other than not let the pup come and visit?
Tina on October 05, 2017:
Sorry I read this for advice. My cat attacks all dogs that come to my home. Whether in the house or in my yard. There is no way to stop a cat that hates all dogs equally. He will come out of no where in the driveway, yard or in the house. Whether people are around or not. Dogs size doesn't even matter. After witnessing 5 unprovoked attacks after another 3 provoked attacks. I had to stop allowing dogs on my property for any reason. Locking my cat up if I happen to catch him in time always results in my cat pooping ON MY BED! Your advice is ridiculous to say they least
gatasbatatas on October 04, 2017:
Hi Adrianne, thanks for the article!
I'm really struggling with my pets at home. We have two adult cats, one gets on great with the dog, the other is an adopted feral & she absolutely hates the dog!
However.. mamma has just had kittens and the kittens are learning the dog is enemy number #1. Our home is a spread out set of buildings and so each pet has its own space to be in, but slowly the kittens are coming to adopt & dominate each space and they're really aggressive towards the dog. The dog does his best to stay totally out of their way, avoids eye contact and backs off whenever they are near but they are really forward e.g. going and eating from his bowl when he is eating and spitting hissing and attacking him as they approach. I'd hoped in time they would come to learn from our other adult cat that the dog is a friend but it doesnt seem to be improving. Things are mildly better if i sit and pet both animals while they are near each other but the slightest movement from the dog sets off a kitten attack (which provokes mum to come flying from nowhere and join the attack!)
do you have any advice? thanks!
Crystal on October 02, 2017:
My cat attacked my boxer when he was barking in his own area and cat hasd run of the house. He has attacked the dog when he is sleeping even. The cat is evil yet here I am spending over$25 a week on his special foodfixing to be somebody elses probledm if I cant solve this.
Percy on August 06, 2017:
My family took in a stray cat that we've now had for about a month or so, but we have a dog who is a rat terrier dachshund mix (he's smaller than the cat) and my cat will frequently approach my dog and attack him, and it seems unprovoked. I think it from fear since my cat seems very skittish.
My cat seems to be getting better with not attacking him, and they even sniffed each other a few times within the past few days, but at the same time he tends to not be around him to even attack him.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 03, 2017:
Karmen, please don't hit your dogs! If they are pestering the cats, keep them separated;
Karmen on July 02, 2017:
well, the dogs always harass and bother cats, so, the dogs need to be beaten with a baseball bat
Miss Cellany on June 26, 2017:
I stick my hand in between when my cat and dog fight. Dog immediately stops and backs away, cat sometimes accidentally scratches me but never badly (he's obviously "pulling his punches" for the dog). I don't leave them alone together usually because the dog pesters the cat to play and the cat gets fed up and attacks her, which the dog interprets as play, then the "play" turns into a fight as it gets increasingly rough... leading to needing to be separated by me. They don't seem to hold any grudges after a fight and will still curl up together and groom each other.
Lisa on June 12, 2017:
My cat always seems to be attacking my new rescue Chihuahua. we were told that Chihuahuas were good with Cats. The other cat we have gets along well (maine coon cat). The dog does go after their food even though it is in another room. Any suggestion. I don't want to keep the one cat cooped up all day in the bedroom. Giving any pets away is not an option
Brendan on March 03, 2017:
Ussually my boys are good. But when the pupppy yelps, vicious attack mode is activated in my cat. Any way to break the habbit in cats?
Sara McGinley on February 01, 2017:
My cat growls and hisses At my dog. He is very active and playful I think it is anxiety directed as aggression if anyone moves to fast she gets scared runs or hisses sometimes she will get you I don't know what to do.
Jordan on January 04, 2017:
We live in a zoo. 5 cats, 3 dogs, a Dachshund, a young Cocker Spaniel, and another much older one, 2 rats, and two fish. One day, my cat Nikki suddenly became very aggressive towards our older cocker. She's been known to swat at our dogs a bit, but she outright attacked Pippin, sinking her teeth and her now clipped claws into his skin, drawing blood. (We disinfected him, no worries.) I looked up a solution, and found this. Sure enough, Nikki was probably watching our younger dog Ari chase lizards around our front porch, and decided that our more sickly dog was an adequate target. We closed up all of the windows with curtains and prevented Nikki from seeing Ari (attempt) hunting. She's much calmer now, and leaves our old doggo be.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 22, 2016:
Sarah, you are already doing the best you can by keeping them separate. It sounds like something stress related or perhaps re-directed aggression from seeing stimuli outside. There are chances it may re-occur so best not to keep your guard down.
Sarah Tyler davies on December 22, 2016:
I've had Alfie since his birth he is now nearly 4 ...I've had Roxy GS nearly 2 years ....they are great together everyone gets along with other 2 cats and my 11 year old dog ...everyone is friendly until yesterday.... Alfi has decided to attack both Dogs ....claws and bitting ....the cats were out and the dogs in the house while we were out ...they are my world I don't know what to do Alfie rages when seeing the both of them ....I've kept them separate ....please help
Victoria on August 06, 2016:
What about a group of cats ran across the street and attacked my dog?
A on July 11, 2016:
I have lived in a small homeowner community for 5 yrs and for some reason today the cat down the street attacked my Pomeranian and my neighbors Pomeranian while she was walking them leased around the block which we do daily. My dog took the brunt of it, the cat rolled her a few times and she tried to get the cat away with her cane and screaming. Another neighbor and our caretaker shooed him off and untangled the leashes. I think she is ok but she is squinting with one eye so maybe vet visit in the morning. Can't figure why the damn cat would attack them after 5 years of them all being here.
Amir on July 02, 2016:
Just this morning while walking with my dad and my american bully a cat suddenly rushed from a house and attacked my dog. Fearing that our dog might fataly bite we restrained our dog by pulling while the cat unbelievably jumped and attacked my dog leaving a scratch on her nose bleeding. I picked up my dog and carried her and that cat to our surprise is waiting and even attempting to reach my dogs tail. The cats owner said that his cat does it all the time to dogs passing by their establishment. People were looking in disbelief of how the cat was aggressive. That was an eye opener for me that cats can be very aggressive towards dogs.
MyCat on April 20, 2016:
My cat of 4 years is a bengal, I just bought a 1 year old jack Russell crossed with chiwawa. As soon as my cat seen the dog she goes into hunting mode and wants to kill my dog. She's making all those vocal hunting noises and will not back off from the dog, I pick the dog up and she just jumps on a nearby shelf trying to get nearer to the dog. I just had to keep them apart in separate rooms. Then she sits near the door as if she's waiting for it to be opened, growling and hissing at the dog. I had to rehome the dog as doubt she'll stop trying to attack her.
Romie on February 28, 2016:
I thought I was alone with a cat and dog problem.
lee on February 24, 2016:
My husband and I have one cat and one dog,The cat has been with us 5 years and the dog around a year, There was quite alot of tension at first with the cat realy not happy with our chihauhua, but over time she seemed to get to like him and they play and she licks him now and then.Then in the last few months she started to attack him when he is laying in my husbands lap.They both love him more than anyone and dont like to share his lap much, but the attack is new. Is this possessive behavior? Hopwcan I make her feel more loved when she already gets so much love from and all of us? I feel horrible about my husband who is in the middle and never gets out of these attacks without scratches and blood.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 11, 2015:
Cats get easily stressed when there are changes in their environment and to your cat's eyes a puppy is different from the dogs you used to have. In what circumstance does the cat attack? Is the puppy cornering the cat? chasing the cat? it may take some time for them to get used to each other. I would recommend not leaving them alone and always supervising their interactions for safety.
wendy sell on October 26, 2015:
Hi. I just purchased a pomeranian puppy she weighs about 2 pounds. We recently had to put our other 2 dogs to sleep and got the pom to help with the pain of the loss. We also have 2 cats and out one cat skittles is about 20 pounds she is attacking the puppy. She has drawn blood twice both times near the puppies eye. She doesn't attack her when we are in the room only when they are alone. I'm really concerned and confused because the cats have always gotten along with our other dogs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 27, 2015:
It sounds like he doesn't like dogs and is trying to chase them away. Some cats will run away and hide, others may take a more heads on approach. You are right to be concerned as if he encounters a dog that doesn't want to be messed around with, it could quickly turn into a fatal encounter. I would take him out only on a harness to explore the neighborhood instead of letting him roam alone. Dogs aren't the only danger, there are cars, people who have no problem poisoning cats that pee around their home, fights with other neighborhood cats etc.
Lovecats on September 18, 2015:
Hi! I am shocked at my cat's behaviour, and don't know what to do now. I adopted Mu when he was 1 y.o. Now he is almost too - he is sweet, and never attacks other cats, he sometimes like to play with me and that's when the claws come out - but nothing serious. He never runs away when I walk with him, and he is very scared of ppl. My mother and I have noticed on several occasions that he acted weird in the presence of a big Labrador in our neighbourhood, but because of the owner our Mu never approached the dog. Today I took him to the forest. There he attempted to attack one rather large dog, that ran towards its owners (thank God), and I thought it was just some sort of game, because the cat is not aggressive at all ever! But right afterwards, he attacked another dog - a smaller one in size. It was a real fight, and the dog seemed scared shitless as the cat kept jumping on her back, and was super angry. Mu was not making any noise - the dog was however. The dog's owner didn't see the whole thing, and thought it was dog's fault. But even when "apprehended", Mu kept trying to get to the poor dog. Could it be due to his breed (he's half Norwegian Forest cat and half moggie)? I am worried sick that when we move to an apartment on the first floor, he will go around neighbourhood attacking dogs, and then there is this one Rottweiler... What should I do? I will be grateful for any advice. Thanks in advance.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 03, 2015:
Sounds like a very stressed cat. Perhaps look for Feliway or other calming aids for cats. An easy fix is simply keeping the two separated, I know it can be a pain, but the more they attack each other the more a vicious cycle will form. Perhaps with time Avi will calm down once those stress hormones lower.
Aushi on August 01, 2015:
I left my cat with my family while i went to a friend's for a week. We have had our dog Sandy for a 6 months she's still a puppy and had been known to chase the cats when she first got here. Now my cat Avi had turned her panic from me being gone for so long to attacking sandy. I can't let her out of my room anymore without the fear of the dog attacking her and pinning her which I've had to break up allot. Any ideas? I've gotten to the end of my rope and an even starting to hate my 2 year old cat cause of it and i don't want that.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 05, 2014:
Yes! So many stories of happy cats and dogs living happily ever after seem to occur when they are introduced from a young age.
Rebecca on December 05, 2014:
Always a difficult situations with not knowing who is more scared, the cat or the dog?! I do feel that its so important to put the two together at a very young age and they will play and get used to one and other. If that's not possible them a peaceful and calm home atmosphere will allow your clever dog to be more receptive than the the curious cat. Stroking both your cat and dog whilst sitting down will get them used to one another and eventually cuddling each other.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 03, 2014:
Sounds like a very stressed cat! Please read through the article for tips and/or enroll the aid of a behavior professional.
mark on July 26, 2014:
hey i have a ? I have a ferrel cat..im staying at my sisters..he attaks her dogs and will not stop? what do i do when its all the cat showing aggression? he rushes the dog as soon as he sees the k9 how do we deal with this?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 01, 2012:
Thanks for stopping by and that you found the article helpful!
Marites Mabugat-Simbajon from Toronto, Ontario on September 30, 2012:
Good thoughts and advice, alexadry. Would love to share it. Got some friends who owns both a dog and a cat. Useful and interesting piece!
annerivendell from Dublin, Ireland on September 30, 2012:
Nice Hub. Good advice. Voted up. I would never leave a cat and dog alone together until they've been acquainted for at least 2 months, and then only if I'm certain they get along. I've never found a problem with aggression from either side, so I guess I've been lucky so far.