Why can’t cats and dogs get on?

Cats and dogs do not always live in perfect harmony together, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

According to an article in Science Daily, one reason why cats and dogs often don’t get on together is because they misinterpret each other’s body language. For example, when cats are angry they usually lash their tails, but dogs growl and arch their backs. When a cat averts its head, it is a sign of aggression, but this signifies submission in dogs.

If cats and dogs are introduced to the same house when they’re young – under 6 months for cats and under a year for dogs, they can learn each another’s body language and are therefore less likely to fight and more likely to get along well together.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with language, well not much really. I am interested in body language and animal communication as well and will be writing about it here occasionally.

This entry was posted in Animal communication.

6 Responses to Why can’t cats and dogs get on?

  1. JRice says:

    Agreed. There’s a wonderful book that talks about this called How to Speak Dog.

    Narrowing of the eyes is another cue.

  2. Peter J. Franke says:

    By keeping cats as well as dogs and some other domesticated animals like bird, rabbits, goats, cows and horses, I learned to communicate with them, just through observation and imitation. Most of the time it helps to make friends with them but sometimes they react confused. If this happens it mainly concerns dogs and sometimes cats.

  3. Helena says:

    Hey there!

    It’s my very first visit to your blog, and I find some of your post really interesting and funny.
    I am a translator who is just now getting started and I am also working hard to become an interpreter.
    I have just started my own “language blog”, I haven’t posted much yet, it’s written in Portuguese and English, so if you feel like it just drop by.



  4. Polly says:

    No explanations needed, that was very interesting. And you know what they say: Communication is 90% nonverbal (or some such percentage). So, how are we communicating online?


  5. Ken Gonzales says:

    I dunno about body language but here’s what I can say regarding spoken language …

    Cebuano is a very harsh and loud language … at least that’s how most native speakers actually pronounce the language … and to the Tagalog-ear, it might sound as if the Cebuano’s are always angry or are always quarelling.

    Tagalog is rather soft, especially the Tagalog of the educated in Manila. Cebuano speakers often mistake male Tagalog speakers as gay, especially if they apply their Tagalog accent in Cebuano.

    Language differences may actually be sources of conflict and misunderstanding …

  6. Andrew Charles says:

    Informative site Simon, thanks. regarding Ken Gonzales post, having travelled much over the past 40 years and picked up the smatterings of several languages on the way, I have always maintained the philosophy that it takes but one word to create a problem and many more than most people know to escape, be careful what you learn and how you use it !

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