Why Do Dogs Sit on Cats?

Warum Hunde sitzen auf Katzen?

Pourquoi les chiens assis sur les chats?

¿Por qué los perros se sienta en los gatos?

Why do dogs sit on cats?

Sounds silly in any language, right? Not much information exists concerning this topic but if you type the words into your search engine, a few entertaining videos (like this one) will pop up. In the absence of scientific explanations for this phenomenon, I've come to the conclusion (by viewing these videos) that the dogs involved have simply become fed up with cats swatting, biting and generally annoying them, and simply sit on the cats as a display of dominance. In other words, if the dogs could talk, they'd probably say something to the effect of "I'm fed up with this $&@# and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

Observe the cats' reactions to the dogs sitting on them and you'll notice that they appear to, at first, be taken by surprise before commencing to twist and squirm in hopes of escape. Funnily enough, the dogs are happily wagging their tails at this point, not looking in the least bit angry. But, the situation could escalate quickly if not given your attention. The pinned cat may progress from swatting to biting, which can easily turn into an out-and-out brawl!

However, I've not seen one incident (thus far) where this "cat sitting" intensifies to an aggressive level. Only if the particular dog is given toward predatory behavior and appears to be viewing the cat as prey, would I become worried for the cat's physical safety.

So dogs sitting on cats may occur for a couple reasons:

Dogs want to show cats who's boss - Dogs want to catch the cats because the cats are annoying them, then display their dominance over the cats.

Dogs want to harm the cats - A predatory dog poses more of a threat than a playful dog, or a dog who simply needs a break from the cats' incessant pestering. However, even the playful dog can harm a cat by misjudging how hard they bite.

Regardless of reason, what these actions can cause (if unsupervised) is undue stress. A stressed cat may fight in defense. The dog may retaliate and, though cats will bite and scratch, a dog could severely wound or kill the cat with a jaw crushing blow (relative to the dog's size, of course!) You may be able to eliminate the habits dogs have developed against your household cat with the aid of a Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB), if comical habits such as "cat-sitting" enter the red zone level of excitement and aggression.

In short, allow the dogs and cats to have their fun but keep a watchful eye. For, oftentimes, play bears comparison to aggression even as aggression bears comparison to play!

By Tom Matteo