We’ve all heard the saying, “fighting like cats and dogs.” Yet, many times cats and dogs that live together seem to get along very well.
Moreover, if dogs and cats can be friends, can they also be lovers, so to speak? And, can these amorous cats and dogs actually mate and produce offspring?
In this article we will cover the following:
Much like men and women, cats and dogs share many behaviors, but also act very differently. To a large degree, these similarities and differences are the reasons cats and dogs sometimes get along swimmingly and, in other instances, fight like they want to kill each other.
Whether or not a cat and dog could ever try to mate with one another first depends on their ability to speak the same language of love.
Much the same as for dogs, two cats that desire to come together and attempt to mate must first be able to communicate their readiness by sending a variety of visual, tactile, and olfactory cues. While there exists a number of interspecies language differences, dogs and cats have enough of an overlap in how they communicate through body language, vocalizations, and tail movements, that many cats and dogs can “speak” to each other, at least to a limited extent.
For a great discussion on the differences and similarities between dogs and cats, check out Cats are from Venus, Dogs are from Mars: How Our Favourite Animals Can Learn to Cherish and Love One Another by Gerry Maguire Thompson. While not exactly about interspecies cat and dog dating, this book can definitely help you bring peace between canine and feline housemates, and maybe even foster a new friendship.
From a physiological standpoint, female cats and dogs both experience heat cycles when they are ready to mate, though the frequency is different among the two species. The females’ behavior while in heat to attract the male also has certain similarities among the species.
When in heat, both female cats and dogs may become more aggressive, urinate more frequently, experience a bloody vaginal discharge, and initiate sexual interactions by elevating her hind quarters, deflecting her tail to the side, and rubbing against males when they approach. All this is to say that it is very possible that dogs and cats can recognize when a female of the other species is in heat.
In addition, certain olfactory cues, or pheromones, are emitted in the urine of female cats and dogs when they are in heat. While undetectable by humans, it is likely that the more sensitive noses of both animals can easily detect these sexual scents.
If you have a cat in heat, you may consider using a cat diaper to prevent unwanted urine spraying. And, to get rid of any urine they do manage to spray, check out Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator; which is 100% guaranteed to remove urine stains and odors.
Once a particular cat and dog pair have learned to speak to each other, it is not unusual for them to become close companions. This can be true even when they are of the same gender and, often, these housemates will play and sleep together.
It shouldn’t seem unusual, then, that a few will take their relationship to the next level. In the video below, you will see that cats and dogs will, on occasion, attempt to mate with each other.
If cats and dogs can physically mate, the next question is whether they can produce viable offspring.
Generally, only animals who are members of the same species are able to reproduce and bear live young. When animals of different species do successfully interbreed, the offspring are referred to as hybrids.
One of the most familiar hybrids comes from the equine family. Mules, a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, are sterile as horses and donkeys are different species and have different numbers of chromosomes.
Other know hybrids include the beefalo, a cross between bison and cattle, and the liger, which is a cross between a male lion and female tiger and the largest cat on Earth.
Let’s take a closer look at a liger named Hercules in the video below.
Although a number of animals can produce hybrids, it is extremely unlikely that a cat and dog could produce an offspring. This is because of the genetic differences between the two animals.
First, domestic cats possess 38 chromosomes, while dogs have 78 chromosomes. Even if they could hybridize, any offspring of a cat and dog would likely be sterile, like a mule.
More significantly, dogs show extensive rearrangement of their chromosomes while cats genes are very highly conserved. This means that the corresponding chromosomes in a cat and dog would not be able to successfully pair up when the sperm and egg meet and no viable offspring could be produced.
Barring some crazy scientist attempting a gene splicing experiment, it is unlikely we will ever see a cat/dog hybrid.
It turns out that cats and dogs can, and sometimes will, physically mate with one another. However, they are not able to produce offspring from such mating due to difference in chromosome number and arrangement.
More often than actually mating, cats and dogs who live together will learn each other’s language and maybe even become close companions.
Does you have a cat and dog who are best buddies? Do you have a story about a love relationship between a cat and dog you know? Please tell us in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you!
Phil’s lifelong love of animals began as a young boy growing up with three pet dogs. As a teenager and young adult, Phil spent six years working as a veterinary technician, later earning a B.S. in Animal Science. After college, Phil continued working as a vet tech part-time while caring for a private collection of mountain lions used in wildlife educational programs. During this time, Phil volunteered at the Dallas Zoo and was eventually offered a position as a zookeeper in the zoo’s naturalistic Wilds of Africa area. Phil became the primary keeper for a black leopard named “Grady” and a caracal named “Tut” in the predator/prey exhibit.