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What Did You Say? Dogs and Cats Speak Such Different Languages

Have you ever been in a social situation where suddenly everything turns OMG? "What have I done? I was trying to be nice. I thought I was being nice?" My boxer mix has that problem. She is a cat magnet; even stray cats will cross the street to nuzzle her and wind around and between her front legs. It’s really something to see - until things go splat. Those “things” being the poor kitty, who is now being held firmly flat to the pavement by a giant, smelly dog paw and getting a thorough bath from a long, drippy (she is part boxer, after all!) dog tongue. Oh, the horrors of it all! It always ends the same way: the now drippy, sticky and extremely angry cat manages to wiggle loose and things start looking like an old slapstick comedy. My dog is trying to get the cat back down so she can clean that last little spot, the cat is equally determined to remove that evil dog’s face for the horrible insult it’s just suffered, and I’m in the middle trying to save my dog, the cat and myself from each other. And to add insult to injury, passersby can’t offer any help because they’re all bent over… laughing! My poor dog is always bewildered by both the cat's, and now my, behavior. She really likes cats. Cats really like her (temporarily, at least!), and here I am trying to chase her new friend away while I'm hustling her in the opposite direction as quickly as possible. She just doesn't understand how the cat goes from new friend to attacking enemy in the swipe of a tongue. Our understanding of dog and cat behavior and body language can help explain why they have so much trouble understanding each other. For instance, did you know that a cat with her tail held high is relaxed and friendly but a dog holding her tail in the same position is potentially aggressive? Unless they're both pretty laid-back animals, there's a good chance one of them is not going to like what the other one is saying! If that same tail starts waving, that's a whole other message. This time the dog is saying, "Hi! How would you like to be friends?" and the cat is responding like my dog's newly washed friend. Most dogs and cats could probably be pretty good friends if they just spoke the same language. What they need is a good interpreter, and that's where we come in. Here are two more communication differences between canines and felines:

  • Wagging (waving) tail: When you see a cat waving his tail, you might want to step in and distract your dog before he gets his nose swatted for being friendly. Cats have long memories and you could easily have furry little Hatfields and McCoys.

  • Ears up: a confident cat will hold her ears high and alert on greeting but if her ears move backward and twitch she is ready to fight or flight. To a dog, ears back and twitching on greeting is a submissive gesture and he may move in to offer friendship.

Some cats and dogs, just like some humans, seem to have an ear (or is it an eye?) for languages and can work out their own friendships, or at least peace treaties. Others may need a little help from their human interpreters. If you need help, justcontact us. We're fluent in both Cat and Dog! concact us!

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