Making an Educated Guess

Research is helping to hone in on behavioral cues that determine feline-friendliness in dogs.


At the local shelter where I volunteer, one of the most common questions about the adoptable dogs is: Does she get along with cats?

And truthfully, the majority of our dogs are those with an unknown history, frequently rescued off the streets of a nearby city. And in our small facility, it’s very, very hard to safely assess the cat-friendly aspect of a dog’s temperament.

So unless we have a dog surrendered by an owner — and we are given a detailed history, which sometimes happens, sometimes doesn’t — there remains an element of simply not knowing.

We automatically assume that visual cues are a good barometer of friendliness and safe behavior, so when a dog is brought into the “cat room,” we have traditionally watched for an excessive amount of interest brought on by visual and olfactory cues.

New research suggests, however, that dogs with a history of killing or hurting a cat or other small animal actually spend most of their time orienting themselves to the sounds of nearby cats.

While the study was done with a relatively small sampling of dogs (read more on page 16 of this issue), I hope that the information is one day fleshed out and utilized to create a standardized guide to help place dogs (and cats) in loving new homes.

It’s that time of year when we’re reviewing the past year’s content, and developing new and interesting article ideas that will benefit you and your cats. If you want to provide feedback and ideas, please Email me at We’d love to hear from you!

Elizabeth Vesci
Executive Editor


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