Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With My Kitten?
If you have a dog and a cat, you may be worried about the old stereotype about cats and dogs not getting along being true. You may be even more worried if your dog seems to spend an unhealthy amount of time and energy on your cat.
This article will discuss some possible causes of your dog’s obsessive behavior and how to address this issue.
When Is It Abnormal?
It is abnormal when your dog is unwilling to leave the cat alone. If you can’t distract the dog and redirect their attention, something’s wrong.
Can My Dog Physically Or Mentally Harm My Kitten?
Your dog could physically hurt your cat, either accidentally or on purpose. If they’re playing around, the dog may not realize their own strength and accidentally hurt the much smaller cat. If your dog is driven by their hunting instincts, they’ll try to chase the cat, which could result in an altercation.
Beyond that, being the focus of a dog’s attention could cause your cat a lot of anxiety and stress.
Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With My Kitten?
If your dog is obsessed with your cat, there are a variety of explanations that could justify why, ranging from triggered instincts to boredom.
Just Being Friendly And Playful
Perhaps the simplest explanation is that your dog is being a dog. They might just see your cat as a great potential playmate.
This can be problematic if your cat and dog have drastically different energy levels. If your cat is fine playing with your dog, then it’s fine. However, cats are known to have less energy than dogs, so your cat may not want to play. In that case, you should pay close attention in case the dog accidentally hurts the cat in their attempts to engage. (1)
Sometimes, your dog’s obsession with your cat is a cry for attention. To test whether this is the case, spend more time with your dog and see if they bother your cat less.
Depending on the size difference between your dog and cat, your dog could be acting on their prey drive. Dogs often chase after animals smaller than them, and cats are no exception. Since cats are smaller and faster than dogs, they often trigger their instincts.
If you believe that this is the reason your dog is obsessed with your cat, then you shouldn’t leave them alone together, since your cat could end up seriously hurt. (2)
It is possible that your dog is just being immature. If that is the case, your dog will probably grow out of it with time and training.
Trying To Dominate
Your dog may just be trying to establish themself as the dominant pet in the house. This is especially true if the dog came first and is seeing the cat as an invader.
Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Aggressive responses triggered by eye contact
- Attempts to herd the cat
- Guarding behavior of toys or food
- Trying to mount the cat
- Resistance to getting off furniture (3)
Your dog’s fixation on your cat may just be a coincidence. Dogs get bored, and when they’re bored, they’ll do what they can to stave off the feeling. As another living creature in the house, your cat is an easy target.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to make sure your dog gets regular exercise. Take your dog for a walk, throw a ball around. (4)
Studies show that dogs can feel jealousy just like a human. This jealousy can express itself in many different ways, such as aggression or clinginess.
If this is the case, your dog will seem more obsessed with your cat during and after the time you spend with your cat: just stroking your cat could be enough to set them off. The best way to avoid this scenario is to make sure you’re giving your dog enough attention. (5)
Cat Is Noisy & Annoying
It may seem unfair to blame the cat in this situation, but dogs are more sensitive to a cat’s sounds rather than their smell or appearance. Cats have a unique vocalization that dogs can hear better than humans. Their purring is of a similar frequency to dogs as a baby crying. (6)
Dog Thinks The Cat Is Sick?
It is possible that your dog can sense sickness from your cat. One study suggested that dogs could be trained to identify bladder cancer in humans.
If your cat is showing symptoms of illness, you may want to take them to the vet. Of course, this could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy: having a dog’s intense focus can be very stressful for cats. Their symptoms might just correlate to their anxiety at the situation. (7)
Just Herding The Cat
Dogs are bred to herd. You may have observed this behavior if your dog has ever nipped at your ankles. These instincts cause the dog to try to herd anything that moves.
This behavior is more often observed in sheepdogs, collies, and shepherd dogs, but it is possible for any dog to exhibit this trait. It can be curtailed with proper training. (8)
Your dog might just be curious about your cat. This is more likely if your cat makes a lot of noise since one study found that dogs were more drawn to the sounds a cat makes rather than their size or the way they move. (9)
Is My Dog Ok?
Yes. It isn’t uncommon for your dog to pay special attention to your cat. However, it is possible that this special attention could reach an unhealthy level, which you need to look out for.
Is This Abnormal?
As the domestic animals of the house, it makes sense for your cat and dog to have some sort of bond. To figure out if that bond is an unhealthy bond, you should observe both animals’ body language. Since they can’t talk, body language will be the best indicator of whether an interaction is friendly or about to turn violent.
A good sign would be a cat with their ears pointed up, since that would indicate that they are in a playful mood. Some warning signs from your cat would be a twitching tail, dilated pupils, and pinned back ears, which indicate irritation.
In your dog, look out for signs that they are trying to pose a threat to your cat. Indicators include growling, biting, and pinned-down ears. Some studies also indicate that when a dog wags its tail to the left, they are harboring negative feelings. (10)
Dangers For The Dog Or The Cat?
If we look at stereotypical cat-dog relationships, we’ll find tension. Cats are more independent and value their alone time, while dogs are more energetic and attention-seeking. If your dog doesn’t give your cat the space they desire, there might be conflict.
Your dog’s obsession with your cat could turn aggressive. If your cat decides to run away from your dog, this could trigger its prey drive. Even if your dog doesn’t want to hurt the cat, they might still do so accidentally if they are larger and stronger, which they usually are. (11)
Why Is My (1, 2, 3, …6) Months Old Puppy So Obsessed With My Kitten?
When your puppy is that young, being around cats will help them acclimate to the thought of living with cats, helping them see cats as friends, not enemies.
To stop your puppy from being obsessed with your cat, you should introduce them to each other slowly. A puppy is going to be more excitable than an older dog, so it would be better to do this when they are calm or tired.
After that, you may want to try these tips to introduce a healthy dynamic into their relationship:
- Encourage your puppy to be calm using treats.
- Teach your puppy commands like “Leave It” and “Come” so you can communicate to your dog when you don’t want them around the cat.
- Make sure your cat has a safe space or two: somewhere to hide and a higher-up place where the puppy cannot reach them. If the cat can effectively get away from the dog, they’ll be less likely to run and trigger the puppy’s prey drive. (12)
Why Is My (6, 7, 8….15) Years Old Dog So Obsessed With My Kitten?
Your older dog could be obsessed with your kitten for any of the reasons above.
It is probably best to make sure your new pet’s energy level matches that of your old pet’s energy level. For example, if you have an elderly, laid back dog, you shouldn’t get an energetic kitten, and vice versa. (13)
How Long It Takes For A Dog To Stop Being So Obsessed With My Kitten?
There are too many factors involved, including the age gap between the two, their energy levels, their personalities, and their breeds. Most importantly, the reason why your dog is so obsessed: if they’re just looking for attention, it may be a quick fix; if it’s their prey drive, that may take longer to unlearn.
There’s no set time for correcting a dog’s behavior. However, if you’re concerned that it’s taking too long or that it might never happen, you can always talk to a dog trainer.
What Can I Do If My Dog Is So Obsessed With My Kitten?
There are a variety of fixes to this, although some may be more effective that others depending on the cause of your dog’s obsession.
Pay More Attention To The Dog
Two of the reasons that a dog might be obsessed with a cat, boredom and jealousy, are directly linked to how much attention you’ve been giving your dog. Put yourself in your dog’s shoes. Would they have reason to think that you’ve been spending more time with the cat than them? Would they have reason to think you don’t spend enough time with them?
It’s important to spend time with both pets, including one-on-one time. Beyond that, each pet should have their own toys to keep them busy when you can’t spend time with them. (14)
Training The Dog Regularly
The main key is proper training. It is easier to do so while your dog is young, but you can do it at any point in time.
The best way to go about this is to train your dog to focus their attention on you, no matter how obsessed they are with your cat. One way you could go about this is by teaching them a command meant to get their attention like “Look.” Another way is through reliable recall, which trains your dog to think that being near you is the best thing. You might train your dog on this using treats.
Another technique is desensitization, which is when you teach your dog not to be obsessed with your cat. Basically, you gradually increase your dog’s exposure to your cat in a manner that reduces the intensity of their reaction. For example, you might only let them see the cat in another room through a baby gate instead of letting the dog go where they please.
If you think your dog’s obsession with your cat is tied to their hunting instincts, you might want to look into predation substitute training, which refocuses your dog’s natural predatory drive. It would be best in this case to talk to a professional about how to go about this. (15)
Teach The Cat To Be Less Noisy And Annoying
While it may seem unfair to put this on your cat if your dog is the one instigating, modifying your cat’s behavior can help improve the situation.
Give your cat treats when they’re in your dog’s presence, so they start to have a more positive association with the dog. Establish safe spaces that the cat can escape to out of the dog’s reach so they know that they’re not stuck with the dog. (16)
Positive reinforcement is always a great way to encourage good behavior. Give your dog a treat or reward every time they don’t react obsessively in the cat’s presence. This will condition them to understand that they are better off not obsessing over the cat. (17)
Keep Them Separate
It’s probably not practical to keep them completely separate when they live in the same house. However, if the obsession has already begun, you should try separating them every time your dog exhibits obsessive behavior. This can be a good idea because it’s a simple way to de-escalate a tense situation between your cat and dog, reducing the probability that it will result in injury.
If your dog is frequently exhibiting this behavior, however, you may need to try a long-term solution. This could mean separating them for a long period of time and reintroducing them after addressing the main issues of their relationship, such as your dog’s prey drive. (18)
Feed Them Separately
Do you keep your cat’s food bowl near your dog’s food bowl?
This could be triggering a reaction from your dog. Dogs are known to be protective of their food, so having the cat eat near them could be interpreted as a threat. You should try feeding them separately in different rooms to avoid this type of reaction. (19)
Get Them To Be Friends And Be Nice To Each Other
The best way to do this would be to introduce them to each other at an early age. If they grow up together, they’ll be less suspicious of each other, and they’ll be less likely to see each other as intruders or enemies.
This should be done in a controlled environment. In other words, you should be able to separate the animals so the cat can feel safe and the dog can learn not to chase the cat. (20)
What Not To Do With A Dog Who Is So Obsessed With My Kitten?
Do not reward your dog for their obsession. Do not give them attention, do not pet them, do not praise them. This will give them the idea that you find this behavior acceptable. (21)
Should I Punish The Dog For Being So Obsessed With My Kitten?
For the most part, your dog’s obsession with your cat is driven by compulsive behaviors. They haven’t learned to control their instincts. They’re not purposely disobeying you. Compulsive behaviors can be a sign that your dog is anxious or upset themself, and you punishing them would only make it worse. (22)
Is Being So Obsessed With My Kitten Dangerous To The Dog?
Mentally, however, it’s not as certain. In reality, a lot of the causes of a dog’s obsession are tied to their instincts, which isn’t unhealthy for them. However, some of the causes are an indicator of the dog’s mental state. If their obsession is coming from a place of jealousy or of feeling neglected, they might be really unhappy.
Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With My Kitten At Night?
The time of day that your dog exhibits obsessive behavior can serve as a clue. For example, your dog might be jealous that your cat gets to sleep in your room, which is why they’re obsessed at night.
If your dog is obsessed with your cat at night, you should keep them separate by having them sleep in separate rooms.
Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With My Kitten In The Morning?
Again, your dog’s timing could be a useful indicator of why they’re obsessed with the cat. However, you should make sure that the morning is the only time they’re like this before making assumptions. If you go to work in the morning, you may be missing your dog display this behavior all afternoon.
It is always important to keep an eye out for signs of obsession.
What Are The Dog Breeds That Become So Obsessed With Kittens?
If you already have a dog and are considering getting a cat, you should first consider how your dog currently acts around cats. If they chase catsm if they bark excessively at cats, if they try to pick them up or pin them, you probably shouldn’t get a cat. (23)
It should be noted that certain dogs are more likely to exhibit a prey drive around cats, such as:
- Labrador retrievers
- American pit bull terriers (24)
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Airedale terriers
- Siberian huskies
- Chihuahuas (25)
Should I Take My Dog To The Vet? Or A Dog Trainer?
You don’t need to take your dog to the vet for this one. It’s not like your vet can prescribe some medicine to make your dog’s obsession go away, or cut out the part of your dog’s brain that causes them to act this way to your cat.
So, your best bet would probably be a dog trainer, who will be able to help you correct your dog’s behavior and give you ideas on how to best acclimate the two animals.
How Much Would The Vet Cost?
The cost of a vet visit would depend on what exactly you were hoping the vet to help with. Did your dog injure your cat? Do you want your dog assessed? It also depends on other factors like location.
How Much Would The Dog Trainer Cost?
A dog trainer’s cost varies depending on where you live and what kind of training you’d be getting (individual or group). The average cost is around $60.
My Dog Keeps Licking My New Kitten?
There are several reasons why your dog might lick your cat:
- To groom them. Dogs lick themselves clean, so it’s not out of bounds for them to lick cats clean if they feel close enough to them. This is most often observed in dogs and cats that are raised together, and it serves as a bonding exercise.
- To greet them. This is also common among dogs and cats that grow up together. It is a sign of affection for them, just as humans might greet each other with a hug and a kiss. A dog might also greet a cat they love by wagging their tail or barking happily.
- To be playful. This may be a way to initiate play. This particular behavior is more often observed in puppies than adult dogs. If this is the case, you should still keep a close eye on them so their games don’t get out of hand.
- To taste them. Some dogs will lick cats because they like their taste or smell. It’s not usually a sign of dominance or aggression, but you can still try to train the dog out of it if you’re concerned.
- To mother them. Sometimes, a kitten inspires parental instincts in an older dog. So, licking them is their way of taking care of the kitten. In this case, the dog sees the cat as vulnerable and in need of protection.
As you can see, most of the reasons your dog keeps licking your kitten are benign. You can probably figure which applies to your situation based on when and how often your dog licks your cat. There’s no reason to be concerned if both animals are comfortable with the interaction, but it never hurts to keep an eye out. (26)
Why Does My Dog Love My Cat So Much?
Sometimes, the relationship between your cat and dog is not an adversarial one, but a nurturing one. The dog may take the cat under their wing. This is most likely the result of female dogs’ maternal instincts.
This dynamic is not harmful to the dog or the cat. However, you should keep an eye for signs that their relationship is not as benign as it appears. (27)
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Accept A Kitten?
Every situation is different: different age gaps, different species, different circumstances. All of these factors affect how long it will take for a dog to accept a cat. It could take days, weeks, or even months.
How Do I Teach My Dog To Be Gentle With Kittens?
The most important thing is to make sure your dog and kitten are acclimated to each other. In other words, you need to make sure they are used to each other’s appearance, sounds, and smell.
You teach your dog to be gentle through gradual exposure. Control every situation in which they interact with the kitten. Reward them for being calm and gentle in the presence of the kitten so they know that that’s the correct behavior. From there, you can give your dog more leeway as you can trust them more around the kitten. (28)
Do Dogs Know Kittens Are Babies?
A cat’s purring can trigger a similar reaction in dogs that a human baby’s cries would trigger in us. Also, being near a kitten could trigger a female dog’s maternal instincts.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Attacking My Kitten?
If your dog is attacking your cat, it could be related to their prey drive. Natural instincts can be difficult to counteract, but not impossible. Here are some of the things you could try:
- Reintroduce them. Pretend like they’re both new to the household. Encourage your dog to stay calm through treats, and redirect their focus from the cat to you. If either animal becomes stressed, separate them and try again with more distance between them.
- Properly train your dog so they’ll stop bothering your cat. Train them away from the cat so your dog isn’t distracted or excited by their presence. Set small milestones for them to work on, and reward them when they succeed.
- Divert your dog’s attention from your cat. There are plenty of ways to condition your dog to devote their attention elsewhere when the cat comes in the room. For example, you could give them a special treat every time the cat comes in so the dog will be more interested in the treat than the cat.
- Talk to a professional dog trainer. The trainer might have suggestions for which of these methods would be the most effective, and they might have more specific ideas for training your dog to leave your cat alone. (29)
How Do I Make My Dog And Kitten Friends?
It is important to make sure they get off on the right foot and that you maintain a healthy dynamic at home.
First, they should meet in a safe, non-threatening environment. For more on how to do this, you should talk to a vet or a trainer for tips.
To maintain a safe and happy home for your pets, do these things:
- Establish a sense of food security for each pet. They should not be worried that the other will steal their food from them.
- Give each pet equal attention. That way, even if your dog and cat do have a tense relationship, jealousy isn’t the reason.
- Make sure your dog and cat are up-to-date on their shots and are healthy. Even though they are different species, they can still pass off diseases to each other like parasites, rabies, and the common cold. (30)
Can I Train My Dog To Leave My Cat Alone?
Gradual exposure may be the best method for this. Keep them completely separate at first while getting your dog used to the idea of a cat.
You might start by separating the animals with a baby gate and having the dog view the cat briefly through the gate before distracting them. Reward your dog for being able to focus on something else. Then you might try to bring the dog in on a leash so you can deescalate the situation quickly if need be. And so on.
There are other ways to acclimate the animals with each other. Obviously if you’re keeping them separated, they’re eating in separate rooms. But if you have them eating on either side of the door, they can start getting used to the other’s smell, which they’ll associate with being fed. (31)
Are Kittens Good With Dogs?
Because kittens are so young, they have yet to develop a fear of dogs. Kittens are young and small, and have a lot of energy. This could trigger a dog’s prey drive.
Thus, if you’re planning on getting a kitten when you already have a dog, you’re better off not leaving them alone unsupervised. Even if the dog means well and is just trying to play with the kitty, they could accidentally hurt them. (32)
Can A Dog With High Prey Drive Live With A Cat?
There are a lot of things you can try in order to build an environment where a high prey drive dog and a cat can live peacefully together:
- Gradual exposure. This has already been discussed, but some of the steps you can take for gradual exposure include muzzles, baby gates, and exercise pens. You could also try feeding them on opposite sides of a gate, so they can see each other while eating.
- Teaching the dog to disengage from the cat.
- Scent swapping. Get your cat and dog used to each others’ scents. One way you can do this is by laying a towel on your dog and cat’s favorite resting places for a few days, then switching the towels.
- Introduce your dog to the sound of your cat. Similar to human exposure therapy, you could try to slowly introduce a cat meowing to your dog, possibly through YouTube videos.
However, it will require a lot of work, so if you’re not willing to try, then you need to prioritize the safety of your animals, whether that means keeping them permanently separate or giving one of them up. (33)
Can Dogs And Kitten Ever Be Friends?
As this article explains, it is possible to train your cat and dog to get along. However, the most important thing is to foster a safe environment for your pets. If your cat is uncomfortable around dogs, you shouldn’t get a dog. If your dog can’t control themself around cats, you shouldn’t get a cat. You have to do what is best for the pet(s) you have.