Do you live with someone who falls firmly in the “cat person” camp? I’ve never had to deal with that personally, but I do have a friend who struggles with this very thing with her husband. While she is in love with dogs like any normal, sane person would be, her husband grew up with cats. The two of them don’t have any pets at the moment because they can’t agree on a dog or a cat, and neither wants to risk getting both only for the animals to hate each other.
Just to clarify before we begin, I am not talking in this post about dog breeds that are good with cats. Check out the link above for an article on that! Today I am specifically talking about a household in which you can only have one pet, or prefer only one pet. How can you go about finding a dog that both the dog lover and the cat lover will like? In my opinion, it is easier to compromise with a dog than it is a cat – I know of very few dog lovers who will get the same type of exercise and companionship from a cat as they can from a dog. With that explanation out of the way, let’s get to those breeds!
Ask a cat lover what it is they love about cats, and you’ll likely get a lot of different answers. But most cat people will cite the fact that cats are so smart, and they’ll even say that they enjoy the way that cats don’t tend to latch on to strangers. They often appreciate the fact that cats seem to want to reserve judgment till they’ve met someone many times. For both their intelligence and their reluctance to embrace strangers right off the bat, the Basenji makes the top of this list. Another big thing that endears them to cat lovers is the fact that they don’t bark. Basenjis do have a sort of yodel that they will make from time to time, but they aren’t capable of a dog-like bark due to the way their larynx is shaped.
There are many things about living with a cat that cat people love. For some reason, they seem to actually enjoy the way cats get into drawers, seek out hidden corners, and generally make a house their own personal little kingdom. Perhaps this is just an amusing bit of entertainment for cat people, I’m not sure – personally that behavior drives me crazy. But if your cat lover likes this kind of thing, then a Whippet is an excellent choice. Once these dogs get into their adult years, they tend to be laid back and independent – but they do love to get up to mischief around the house. They’ll open up drawers and cabinets and look for interesting new hidey holes in a home where they are comfortable. Younger Whippets may overwhelm a cat lover unless you have lots of time for exercise. I would highly recommend investing in some good fetch discs or getting into a sport like lure coursing with a young Whippet.
If the cat lover in your life cites a cat’s independence as their favorite thing about felines, then a Shiba Inu is the answer for your compromise. These dogs are famously very calm, even aloof, dogs. They typically prefer to hang out alone in the house, and they tend to prowl around and look for small rodent prey a lot like a cat. Another odd feline trait these dogs have is an obsession with cleaning and grooming themselves. Honestly, if you are looking for a “cat in a dog’s body”, this is the pup for you. They’ll still give the dog lover the loyal companionship they want, but be aware that a Shiba will need alone time to recharge.
If the cat lover’s preference just boils down to not wanting to exercise a dog too much, then a Chin could be an excellent option. These are cute, fun little dogs that love to be affection and playful, but they don’t really need much exercise if any. You can get away with a short trot around the yard at potty breaks for these dogs, and they often play in the same way as a cat. A flirt pole, for example, is a great toy to have around with a Chin. Not to mention, these dogs have a royal lineage as companions to Japanese nobility, making them just as dignified as many cat lovers believe felines to be.
If what your cat-loving housemate loves about cats is their grace and beauty, then the Afghan Hound is a great compromise. These dogs are simply gorgeous with their flowing locks and their very elegant way of moving about. They also tend to have cat-like temperaments, meaning they aren’t immediately social, preferring to remain a bit more aloof till they genuinely get to know a person. But with those that they know and trust, these dogs are gentle and affectionate. One of the things I hear a lot from cat owners is that they love how every cat really does develop its own unique personality, whereas (to them) dogs tend to be all cut from the same cloth. Afghan Hounds are known for being very unique personalities, so this could be another selling point for a cat lover.
What if the cat lover in your life really gets a kick out of the way that cats think of themselves as the rulers of the roost? Maybe they find that confidence charming, and they aren’t as fond of the submissive behavior that most dogs tend to exhibit around their humans. A poodle is a good choice if this is why your housemate prefers cats. Poodles are fun and friendly dogs, but they are definitely known for having a ton of confidence. They think of themselves as the alpha dog in every home or situation, even if they are the tiny toy version. Plus, these dogs are hypoallergenic, so if the cat lover in your life is allergic to dogs, this is a great choice.
Surprise surprise, it’s another sight hound. Just like the Afghan Hound and the Whippet, the Greyhound is a great choice for cat lovers, for many reasons. But if the big reason that cat lovers cite cats as their favorites is due to “cat naps”, then the Greyhound should be first on your list. Although this dog was bred to run and does need a good amount of exercise outdoors, they have remarkably cat-like attitudes inside. They would much prefer to be couch potatoes or to spend all their time on a comfy dog bed, than being up in your business. And Greyhounds are also notoriously gentle dogs; if you love that gentle nudge of the hand that some cats do when they want attention, you’ll see the same behavior from a Greyhound. They make great dogs for someone who needs a more independent pet that will come to you when it wants attention.
This article may have given you some great ideas about what types of dogs you can pitch to your cat-loving housemate, but do you know why it is that cat lovers may have such a hard time with, say, a Labrador? While some people may just have an actual aversion to dogs, there are a few deeper psychological reasons about how we relate to our pets that can help you understand why dog breed really matters to a cat lover.
First, it’s in how we relate to our pets. Dog lovers are typically getting a dog because they want a friend. They want companionship. Dogs are pack animals that respond well to this need because their natural instinct is to form a companionable bond. They want to be with us everywhere, and do things with us, and “hang out”, just like we want.
Cat lovers, on the other hand, are typically looking for an object of affection, rather than a friend. Cats are independent creatures. They don’t usually want to hang out, go with us, or be part of a pack. Instead, they prefer to keep to themselves except when they want a bit of affection. This works for cat people, who are looking for affection themselves. Multiple studies have shown that cat lovers tend to prefer solitude themselves, whereas dog lovers also tend to have spouses and children, or at least close family members living in the same household. This is why a dog that is overly friendly and pack-minded may be off-putting to a cat lover, whose very personality is more centered around alone time.
Another thing to consider is that cat lovers tend to value intelligence very highly. That isn’t to say that dogs aren’t smart. I’ve known some very smart dogs in my day, and you hear stories all the time of dogs doing absolutely incredible things. And in fact, you can also hear plenty of stories of cats that are just plain dumb. But overwhelmingly, cats tend to come across as smarter than dogs. Maybe it’s due to their natural grace and agility – whereas dogs can sometimes be rather lumbering and goofy due to all their energy. Whatever the reason though, a dog that acts like a stereotypical puppy may not impress your cat-loving housemate.
Now that you’ve got some great breed suggestions, and you understand a little more about why certain breeds would be better than others for a cat lover, it’s time to get the ball rolling on that conversation! I’m going to take some advice from an old article of mine about convincing parents to let kids have a dog:
Ideally, if you can’t come to a compromise, you’ll be able to find a dog and a cat that get along together and will make you both happy. But I know that not everyone can live in a place that allows two pets, or wants to deal with the vet bills and time requirements of two pets. If you are careful to consider the needs and desires of your cat-loving housemate, I’m positive you can find a dog that will make you both happy. Give the dogs on this list a bit more research, and you’ll find a dog in no time at all.