Five Things That Cats and Dogs Have in Common

By Jane Meggitt

If you share your life with a cat and dog, you know they aren't necessarily like oil and water. Many of their needs do overlap. These include the need for good quality food, regular grooming and your attention and companionship. Canines and felines are also susceptible to the same parasites and diseases, although treatments might vary. Never use canine products on your cat or vice versa unless you clear it with your veterinarian.

Intestinal Parasites

Cats and dogs might suffer from the same intestinal worms and protozoa. Common worms infesting dogs and cats include roundworms and tapeworms. While hookworms are more common dogs, they can affect cats. Protozoal organisms found in dogs and cats include giardia and coccidia. Symptoms of intestinal parasites include diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss. Your vet tests your pet's stool sample and prescribes medication to eradicate the parasites.

Fleas and Ticks

The same fleas and ticks plague both your dog and cat. A severe flea infestation can kill kittens and puppies. While you'll have to inspect your pets for the presence of ticks, evidence of fleas is similar in both species: scratching, possible hair loss and "flea dirt" -- dark, peppery specks in your pet's fur -- flea feces. Your veterinarian can recommend a monthly topical flea and tick medication that should take care of the problem. You must treat every dog and cat in your household, even if only one shows signs of fleas.

Heartworm Testing

If you own a dog, it's likely your veterinarian has prescribed a monthly heartworm preventative for him. However, heartworms can also infect and kill Kitty. For both species, transmission is via the bite of an infected mosquito. Virtually all dogs bitten by an infected mosquito will become infected, while the feline infection rate ranges from about 60 to 90 percent. Infected cats are more likely to die of heartworm disease. While medications exist to eradicate heartworm in dogs, they carry a risk of sudden death when used in cats, and no comparable safe drugs currently exist for cats, according to the American Heartworm Society. However, some cats have experienced symptomatic relief with steroids and diuretics in an attempt to outlast the worm lifespan, and experimental surgery to remove the worms has been performed in Japan. Because of these limited options, it's important that your vet examine your cat and prescribe preventatives if blood tests reveal no sign of heartworm infestation.

Gestational Periods

The gestational period, or length of pregnancy, is very similar in canines and felines. Both last approximately two months, with the average canine giving birth after 63 days and the average feline producing kittens on day 65. However, it's normal for either species to go into labor a few days earlier or later than average.

The Weaning Process

Puppies and kittens both start eating solid food at about the same age -- between 3 and 4 weeks -- starting the weaning process. Both are completely weaned -- no longer consuming mother's milk -- by about the age of 8 weeks. For either species, total weaning periods might end a week earlier or last a week longer.