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Why Does My Cat Walk on the Dog?

We have a question from a reader at The Contemporary Pet website who wants to get feedback from other pet owners who have both dogs and cats under one roof.

Lynne from Arizona asks:

“I’ve had my cat for years but now also a rescue dog. They seem to get along really well for the most part. They even share a bed at night, but whenever the cat wants to sit near the dog or us, my cat walks on top of the dog, making sure to step on his head once, especially when our dog (and we) are trying to sleep. It doesn’t bother the dog a bit, but a friend told me that the cat is being aggressive by walking on the dog. Does anyone else have a cat that does this? Should I try to curb the behavior? They are otherwise best friends as far as I can tell.”

We’ve heard from several readers, most of them affirming that dogs and cats really CAN get along and they DO care for each other. Most responders who had theories on why a cat would walk on a dog agreed that it wasn’t a problem and that owners shouldn’t worry about it.

Here are a few of the more interesting replies:

Karen:  “It’s not aggression, the cat is just showing dominance. The cat is probably smaller, so it’s a protective action.”

Neil:  “Cats love to snuggle up next to each other to sleep. Your cat may simply be making his nest before he settles in to sleep. I bet they sleep close together. If not, I’d say it’s a territorial thing. Your cat is showing you the dog is HIS, not yours.”

Josie: “Your cat is being affectionate by walking on the dog, much like kittens crawl all over their mothers when they are young. As adults, cats don’t usually walk on each other because they are relatively close to each other in size. If  your dog is much larger than the cat, the cat probably enjoys climbing on him just like he liked climbing on his mother when he was young. It sounds like your cat sees your dog as a sort of parent or caregiver.”

Mary: Cats are naturally nocturnal. They sleep most (if not all!) of the day and they’re ready to play at night. Your cat may be trying to tempt your  dog into playing with her,  When your dog doesn’t respond, your cat settles in and tries to make the best of it.”

Obviously, there’s no single theory on why Lynne’s cat takes a stroll on her dog in the evening, but since everyone seems to agree that it’s natural and not a cause for concern, we’ll let sleeping dogs and cats lie.


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