Until relatively recently, the answer to that question was probably no. Even though some American Shorthair cat breeds are more dog-like than others, it hasn’t always been safe for cats and dogs to hang out together. But has the tide turned in favor of this cross-species friendship?
History of Cats and Dogs Living Together
Cats and dogs actually have a long history of living together – in the same household. Ancient Egyptian cat art (circa 4000 B.C.) shows cats and dogs playing together, indicating that these two species were not only living side by side but also getting along well enough to rough-house with each other. Even Alexander the Great was said to have been a cat lover who attempted to bring his cats with him into heaven.
This trend towards living together continued throughout history – but for most of this time, the relationship between cats and dogs was one of our fears. Cats were small enough that they could easily be used as rodent catchers, but also valuable enough that they were worth protecting. So it was the dogs who had to adjust their behavior, not the cats. And throughout history, before they could coexist peacefully, cats and dogs had to learn how to read each other’s body language properly.
Since early civilizations kept some breeds of both cats and dogs primarily for catching rodents (and others as hunting partners), both species were commonly kept in barns and stables or allowed to roam outdoors. This meant that the cats and dogs who lived together had to figure out how to safely coexist before they could be brought inside the home.
During the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, families began keeping their cats indoors permanently. Cats were more valuable than ever for controlling rodents inside the home, and this new lifestyle gave them greater opportunity to form close bonds with their owners.
With cats now spending most of their time indoors, dogs began to see them as prey animals rather than rivals. As they spent more time around humans, these small predators became increasingly dog-like in size, shape, and color – eventually becoming domesticated house cats.
Today, the cat-dog relationship is much more likely to be based on friendship and affection rather than fear. Yet there are still some breeds of cats that would only live with dogs as a last resort.
In general, though, most American Shorthairs appear to have made peace with canines – and vice versa. In fact, these kitties seem to get along with canine pets so well that many owners assume they’re dog-lovers.
What Should You Expect from a Cat-Dog Relationship?
Since you can’t predict how individual cats and dogs will relate to each other based on their breed or the historical context of the relationship between their respective species, you may find yourself with a few surprises.
Generally speaking, dogs and cats can live together in harmony – but you’ll need to establish some ground rules for your pets. Since it’s up to you to ensure the safety of both the cat and the dog, neither will be able to dictate how they relate to each other on their own terms.
American Shorthairs are usually more friendly towards dogs than most cats, but even these sweet kitties have a limit on the amount of canine affection they can take. To ensure the safety of your American Shorthair, it’s important to be willing to step in if there’s any sign that the dog is being too rough with the cat.
American Shorthairs are also known to be more dog-like in appearance than many other cat breeds. This means that some American Shorthair cats may bear a strong resemblance to small terriers or even poodles. Additionally, these kitties aren’t always gifted with the “cat sense” of knowing when to stay away from dogs.
Some kittens and cats may even be tempted to bat at the dog, just as they might prey on smaller animals outdoors. This is especially true for breeds of cats that are naturally more dog-like in general. However, it’s still important to let your cat know when he’s gone too far – by interrupting him with a stern “No.” and leading him away from the dog.
One thing to bear in mind is that an American Shorthair cat who was previously kept primarily indoors might feel more comfortable around dogs than a cat who spent his entire life outdoors. If your new kitty seems nervous or unsure of how to behave around your canine pet, you may need to make a special effort to help your new pet feel safe and secure indoors.
How Can I Bring My Cat and Dog Together?
It’s clear that you can make a happy, healthy home for both a cat and a dog under the same roof – but what kind of specific challenges might arise from this living arrangement?
First of all, it’s important to understand that these two pets need time to adjust to the changes in their living conditions. For example, while a dog may seem happy enough with his outdoor accommodations, he might be unaccustomed to having another pet in the house and might feel threatened by your cat’s presence. Additionally, both cats and dogs can react poorly to sudden changes – like finding themselves suddenly sharing their house with another animal.
On the other hand, some cats and dogs acclimate very quickly to having a new pet in the home – and may even take on the role of “big brother” or “big sister” toward the newcomer.
When there’s a cat around, your dog will probably use that opportunity to practice her “guard dog” skills – so it’s important to teach your pooch that this habit isn’t acceptable by giving her a loud, firm “No.” whenever you catch her growling or otherwise showing aggression.
Despite having their own unique personalities and temperaments, cats and dogs can both learn how to behave predictably around each other – as long as they’re under careful supervision. Keep an eye on your pets whenever you let them loose together and be prepared to step in if there’s any sign of trouble.
Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that cats and dogs will often adjust to the presence of each other by following each other around. Dog owners may find themselves with a furry shadow wherever they go, while cat owners often note that their pet seems to “helpfully” follow them from room to room – whether they want company or not.