Why does my dog ignore my cat?

dog ignore cat outside in the grass

Dogs can ignore cats as early as their first meeting or after several years of living together. In this article, Letsgetpet will explain the possible reasons why your dog might ignore your cat and ways to help fix this.

Your dog has had bad experiences interacting with cats

If your dog and cat live together, but your dog ignores your cat, it could be because they have experienced negative interactions with another cat in the past. Dogs that are really curious or intrepid can approach unknown cats and find themselves invading their space. They usually approach them to sniff them out of curiosity or try to play with them.

If the cat in question feels threatened, they will usually try to attack the dog that is approaching them too closely. Cats can choose to attack with their claws or their teeth, to try to hurt or scare away the dog. If your dog has been the victim of a fight with a cat in the past and has been scratched or intimidated by a cat, this can lead to the development of mistrust or caution towards cats. If your dog ignores your cat, it’s perhaps because they scared to experience the same type of interaction.

Ignoring could, therefore, be linked to a feeling of fear and insecurity. However, it’s important to point out that dogs do not express their fear in the same way. Some dogs growl, have their hair stand upright, bark, or pursue the threat if they are scared and do not feel safe. Other dogs prefer to run away, hide, or ignore the source of their stress to avoid danger. If your dog has been scratched by a cat in they past, it’s possible that they prefer to ignore your cat in order to avoid them and feel safe.

Your dog has socialized too much with your cat or has dominant behavior

Familiarity and too much socialization between a dog and cat can contribute to the development of a relationship of tolerance, even to the point of indifference. A dog can start to ignore a cat because the two have lived together since they were very young. As they grew up in the same house, the dog has gotten used to the presence of the cat and the cat reciprocally. This can lead the dog to not pay attention to the cat, especially if they are busy with other activities.

If, on the other hand, the dog considers the cat to be an inferior member of the social hierarchy, they might choose to ignore them rather than get into conflict with them. Dogs are members of the canidae family, and adopt a pack structure like their wolf ancestors. Between members of the same pack, notably between the dominant one, competitions are nonexistent. Fights are also rare. If your dog sees as your cat as the dominant figure in the house, they could adopt certain behaviors that go with their position. In other terms, they will choose to ignore the cat rather than attack them.

dog and cat sleep ignore
Some dogs have a calm and friendly temperament.

Education and previous training

A dog can also ignore a cat because they were trained to do so in the past. If, for example, they was punished with momentary isolation every time they chased a neighbor cat, this could have led them to no longer come into conflict with cats. They might also ignore cats if they received treats, biscuits, toys, or caresses for having ignored their hunting behaviors towards cats.

You should remember that dogs, no matter the breed, have strong hunting instincts. Like all carnivores, they have a hunting sequence made up of several behaviors often executed in the same order:

  • target search,
  • stalking,
  • pursuit,
  • biting prey.

The size of cats compared to some dogs often means that dogs see them as targets or prey when the two are in the same environment. The instincts of dogs can then naturally lead them to hunt or chase cats on the move. Education and training have helped dogs to no longer have aggressive behavior with cats. It’s possible that they no longer give attention to the cat. This might be the reason your dog ignores your cat.

Individual temperaments

Some dogs are known for their calm and friendly temperament. This is the case for the following breeds:

The temperament of these dogs can lead them to ignore a cat present in their environment rather than follow them, play with them, or attack them.

Pugs, for example, are pacifists. They only bark with they are famished or feel extremely threatened. They are very gentle dogs by nature and are big sleepers. They do not want to lose their time following a cat. Instead, they prefer to ignore them and lounge around. This is also often the case for standard Poodles. Toy Poodles like to play with cats and miniature Poodles tolerate them, but standard Poodles ignore them frequently.

French Bulldogs are certainly one of the calmest dogs, but they are also the laziest and the cuddliest. Like Pugs, they are generally inclined not to bark. Small in size, they sometimes ignore cats in their own home. Another gentle breed that is very friendly and calm is the Newfoundland dog. These dogs do not show any aggressiveness to other animals such as cats. If you have a Newfoundland dog, their character can make you feel like they are ignoring your cat.

The other breeds (Bernese Mountain Dog, Shetland Sheepdog, etc.) also have the same type of character. Keep in mind as well that every animal has their unique personality. It’s possible that the reason for this behavior does not depend on the temperament label attached to its breed.

Your dog is not in good health

If the interaction between your dog and cat was active and positive in the past, but you are starting to notice that your dog is ignoring your cat, this can be caused by their state of health. Indeed, one of the revealing signs of illness is fatigue. You might notice that your once playful and energetic dog prefers to sleep or no longer feels like expending their energy. This symptom is sometimes accompanied with whining, a fever, excessive hair loss, repeated urination or other signs, depending on the pathology from which they are suffering.

If your dog feels this way, they might show themselves as less willing to interact with your cat, even if the two of them had a friendly relationship before. They can have a sudden change of habit and become too calm by preferring to stay lying in their corner. If you notice one of these signs, the ideal solution is to bring them the earliest as possible to a vet consultation.

Your dog might be getting old

Ignoring can also be a sign that your dog is getting older. When dogs get older, you might notice some of these physical and psychological signs:

  • fatigue,
  • lack of energy,
  • difficulty to make efforts,
  • shortness of breath,
  • weight loss, sometimes accompanied by loss of appetite,
  • lowering of motivation for their otherwise favorite activities,
  • stiffness,
  • loss of motor skills,
  • long periods of sleep.

They can also become a homebody or want more tranquility, even being alone. This can explain the disinterest and the lack of attention towards the cat. In this case, you should consult a vet or a canine behaviorist, or specialist of dog behavior issues. You can also fix the situation by keeping them mentally and physically stimulated and encouraging positive interaction between the two animals.

You might also find this article useful: My dog is aggressive towards my cat