Cats and dogs have something of a spotty history when it comes to getting along with each other. Sure, they can be great friends when they live together from a young age, but generally speaking, they’re far from each other’s biggest fans.
This mutual distaste has not stopped many owners wondering, can dogs and cats mate? After all, many relationships have a feisty nature to them, and what’s feistier than fighting like… well, cats and dogs?
Cats and dogs cannot mate because they are different species. The ability to produce offspring is determined by the number of chromosomes a species possesses. Only animals with an equal number of this DNA-containing material can produce offspring. Therefore, even if dogs and cats engaged in sexual behaviors, it would not result in a cat-dog hybrid.
Why Does Anyone Think Cats and Dogs Could Mate?
You might be sat there, scratching your head and wondering why anyone might think cats and dogs could breed at all, but it’s actually not as absurd as it first sounds.
At least, when you don’t know the science which, let’s be honest, most of us don’t. So let’s take a look at some of the things that might have led a person to wonder if cats and dogs could mate and lead to a successful pregnancy.
The Hump Factor
And that is a key thing to establish; when we say “mate”, we talk specifically about making babies, not a euphemism for “sex”. Dogs, and indeed, many cats-will no doubt attempt to perform sexual activities with animals of a different species from time to time.
They also occasionally try to mate with their owner’s legs, cushions, their beds, and a whole host of other inanimate and no-so-inanimate things, so don’t read too much into that.
There is the unavoidable reality that dogs-and, to a lesser extent, cats-will hump things that they’re not strictly speaking supposed to be humping, including each other.
This behavior is indicative of a few things but attempts to make babies are not one of them.
In dogs, it can be a sign of anxiety or even boredom. Cats also tend to hump things when stressed, so if your furry friends are getting it on with each other, it might be worth looking into, as they could be anxious about something, nervous, or have too much energy to burn.
Ligers, Zebroid, Wholphins, and the Rest
It would seem perfectly obvious to many of us that two creatures from entirely different species wouldn’t be able to mate with each other, but there are quite a few amazing hybrids throughout the history of the animal kingdom that would, at first glance, seem to fly in the face of that assumption.
Ligers are a cross between a lion and a tiger. Zebroids are a cross between a zebra and any equine animal. Wholphins are a cross between a dolphin and a false killer whale. And there are many more examples of this seemingly inter-species union, both in nature and in captivity.
It’s not the case-closing evidence it might first seem, however. Tigers and lions are from the same genus, zebras are technically a horse species, and a killer whale is in the dolphin family.
In short, none of these pairings are as far apart as cats and dogs. If you look at any of the other supposed impossible hybrid animals, you will find similar caveats.
There is an enduring myth that foxes are actually part of the feline family, despite their distinctly canine appearance. It’s an understandable assumption. After all, foxes behave far more like cats than they do dogs.
If cats and dogs could mate, it would be a fitting explanation for where our nocturnal furry friends with canine features and feline personalities came from.
But, alas, it is not the case. Biologically speaking, foxes are part of the canine family, same as dogs. The cat-like behavior they exhibit is just what worked for them from an evolutionary standpoint.
There has been no shortage of fake animal hybrid stories on April Fools. Cat-dog hybrids seem especially popular, maybe because it speaks to our imagination of combining two of our favorite pets.
With the ever-impressive ease with which we can now manipulate digital images, pranks like these are often accompanied by surprisingly realistic pictures of said animals.
Of course, pranks are just that; pranks. These often adorable creatures are no more real than unicorns, trolls, and other fictional beasts.
One example of such pranks is the Cornell University’s School of Veterinary Medicine’s announcement on April 1st, 2009, about successfully producing a cat-dog hybrid named “Kotpies”.
Could Cats and Dogs be Crossbred Using Science?
So cats and dogs can’t breed in the old-fashioned way, but what if there would be a miracle of science?
Well, firstly, there would be considerable ethical concerns over such an exercise.
Many “purebred” animals suffer health conditions due to the inbred nature of their breed.
The risk, and probably the public outrage that would follow upon successful cat-dog splicing, would be very real. Although a scientific “miracle”, such a creature would essentially be born to suffer and would therefore cross ethical boundaries.
But secondly, no. At least, if scientists can do this kind of thing, they aren’t very public about it. Cats and dogs are too far away from each other on the evolutionary tree.
To put it in perspective, cats and dogs diverged from each other around 42 million years ago, whereas cats and humansdiverged approximately twenty million years ago.
In other words, from an evolutionary point of view, cats have a better chance of breeding with humans than they do with dogs. And, no, we’re not saying humans can breed with cats.
Why Would Anyone Want to Mate Cats and Dogs?
Cats and dogs are by far human’s most beloved pets, which is in no small part thanks to the fact that they are heavily domesticated.
But perhaps a more significant reason is how gosh-darned cute they are!
It is perhaps good that cats and dogs can’t be bred, as selective breeding can be ethically questionable when it’s just one species, let alone two. But we can probably all agree that a cat-dog would be one of the cutest things we’ve ever seen.
For some reading this, the message of this post may be a crushing blow to an adorable dream. To others, it may be the assertion of blatantly obvious reality. Regardless of which camp you fall into-or, if your views were somewhere in between-we hope you found this interesting.
It was certainly interesting to write!