A hybrid, simply put, is a cross between two different species of animal. A few examples in the animal kingdom are a mule (a cross between a female horse and a male donkey), a liger (which is what happens when you breed a male lion with a tiger), and even an albino Bengal, an offspring of the popular housecat and one of the big cats. However, creating hybrids of animals that are genetically too distinct from each other — like a cat and a dog – must be next to impossible. Come to think of it that would be one species giving birth to an entirely different one. But since when did that stop people from hoping and trying?
Laura Bedford and Her Maltese Cat (1937)
The first attempt can be traced back to 1937 when Laura Bedford made headlines after announcing that she had witnessed a biological miracle. Her cat Maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies. She suspects that the hybrids resulted from one of the Maltese cats mating with her neighbor’s dog. Asked to voice their opinions on the matter, a few vets were skeptical of the claims, saying it’s impossible and that it never happened. One local vet, however, took time to scrutinize the animals. He noticed that the animals looked so much alike that it was almost impossible to distinguish them from each other. They appeared like they were from the same family and of the same age. He would conclude that if the story was a hoax, then someone must have gone through a lot of trouble trying to match them.
Bedford’s Story Blows Up
Still, with no undeniably conclusive evidence to support her claims, Bedford’s story drew a lot of criticism. Three local residents (Valerie Nobles, Lester Womsley, and Paul Dickerson) were first to discount the story. According to Paul Dickerson, he was there when the cat was giving birth. The cat had given birth to five kittens, three black ones and two grey ones. However, he had not seen any of the puppies that were supposedly born at the same time. He suspected that someone had switched them up. Veterinarians would decide to go with Dickerson’s version of the story and decided there was no need to do a blood test on the kitten/pups. Dickerson’s account put the matter to rest.
Roy Tutt’s Story (1970)
Another attempt was made in 1970 by Roy Tutt, a pet shop owner who claimed his pet cat and dog could give birth to hybrids, and he had a few of them as proof. His black cat, “Patch,” had allegedly given birth to a Scottish terrier pet that he had named Bones. Roy made headlines, too, appearing on several TV shows for interviews. The story even caught the attention of a writer from a national magazine. However, as with Bedford’s claims, Tutt’s story turned out to be a hoax too later on. All the cat-dog hybrids he had as proof were just regular puppies. The good thing about his story is that it gave birth to hybrid names such as kuppies, pussy pooch, and puppy cat.
Why None of these Stories Adds Up
Scams and hoaxes involving hybrids are nothing new. But they make us question if two very different animal species can breed. If not, what would it take for this to happen? Let’s imagine for a second that Laura Bedford was right. How much research would have to go into it? We’re not just talking about humans and apes here, but two different species of animals. It would take a lot of research to study the behavior and reproductive cycles in both cats and dogs to understand if they can meet in the middle or not. That’s a lot of work. So I will assume that Laura Bedford’s story was made up by someone who wanted free publicity.
Mating is the transferring of genetic materials between two animals of different sexes through copulation. Fertilization occurs when two sex cells are joined together. There are numerous ways by which this can happen, but it’s the first step in producing a new life form. When we talk about mating, we’re referring to reproduction and fertilization: sex and pregnancy. But let’s set the facts straight here. Can two different species mate? The answer to your question is yes. A good example is a liger, a cross between a Lion and Tiger. However, you have to note that this only happens because the two belong to the same class family, Felidae. That means that in terms of taxonomy, they’re the same. But when we talk about different animal family classes, we’re talking about species that cannot mix. An example of this is a cat and a dog, as both animals belong to different animal classes: Felidae and Canidae.
Different Animal Classes
That means that they can never blend biologically. They’re more than 100 million years apart on the evolutionary scale, and this gap isn’t something we can cross or even straddle. The same goes for any other animal belonging to different family classes. Using the same logic: it’s easier to breed a cat and a lion than to make an offspring of a cat and a dog. That is because the former belong to the same animal class while the latter doesn’t. Cats and dogs may be next-door neighbors, but they live in two different worlds. In other words, the two can’t mate.
Cat-Dog Mating in an Unconventional Setting
Suppose scientists decide to create a cat-dog hybrid in an alternative way that doesn’t involve fertilization. Scientists would have to use genetic engineering or selective breeding—a process in which scientists try to get the desired trait from one animal and transfer it to another. In this case, they have to find a specific strand of DNA in cats and dogs to modify it and create a new strand containing the desired traits from both species. These scientists have to pick one animal first and harvest its fertilized egg cells to extract cell nuclei. Next, they would have to insert the modified genetic sequence into these nuclei, which are then inserted back into an embryo. This embryo is then inserted back into a host animal’s womb for gestation. Notwithstanding, there are several problems in this process that must be overcome first. Even if scientists managed to successfully fertilize an egg cell from the embryo of one animal with another’s sperm cells, they need to make sure the embryos would develop without getting deformed. That involves managing and controlling the breeding process, which is another challenge in itself. And if past cases are anything to go by, hybrids that don’t happen naturally never turn out healthy. They’re more like freaks of nature.
Is there a possibility that there will Ever Exist a Cat-dog Hybrid, Especially with the Advancement of Technology?
It would have been easier if the two belonged to the same class family or genus. But when it comes to different classes, the chances are slimmer. That’s because the two aren’t even in the same taxonomic order. So it’s not just a matter of combining genetic information from both animals to get a hybrid offspring. Scientists would have to use cloning techniques for this attempt to work—breeding an animal without fertilization and extracting its DNA to use it as a template for another animal. It’s not something we can expect or hope to happen anytime soon, if ever. To date, there are no viable examples of this among hybrids that have been created; the closest we’ve come to this would be some kinds of mules (cross between donkeys and horses).
What Does This Mean for Cat-dog Owners?
Having or owning a dog doesn’t make you any less of a cat owner. So don’t worry if your pet pooch happens to eat your kitty’s food while it’s away on one of its adventurous trips outside. These animals are only being themselves, so you have to respect them as such. Dog-lovers and cat-lovers can both exist at the same time because even if these two animals aren’t from the same family class, they’re still from the same animal kingdom.
The mysterious “‘Dúi” Dog’ Looks A Lot Like a Cat-dog Hybrid
Is “Dui” a cat or a dog? That’s the question that the internet is asking after meeting Dúi. The fluffy pet, whose name means “Raccoon” in Vietnamese, has fans across social media wondering if he should be considered an ideal cat-and-dog mix. But as it would be revealed, the dog is anything but a cat-dog hybrid. His owners clarified that he’s a mix between two different breeds, a short-legged native dog and a dingo (a type of Australian shepherd). But he thinks some mutation might be happening there, too, making him look like something you would find in an average cuddly corgi.
Dogs that Act and Look Like Cats
Disappointed that you couldn’t find a cat-dog hybrid? Don’t be. There are lots of dog breeds that look and act like cats on their own, including the following:
This doggy breed is friendly and independent, like a cat. Also called the Continental Toy Spaniel, this dog breed is highly intelligent and obedient. The gentle pooch can be easily trained to do tricks and fetch stuff.
If you’re looking for a small dog that acts like a cat, then the Norwegian Elkhound is just right for you. This breed loves to lie on the laps of its owners and doesn’t mind being carried around. And just like cats love doing before they take their afternoon naps, this dog breed loves to curl up in pillows.
This canine companion has a cat-like face that makes you think she’s as intelligent as a cat. The Sheltie is friendly, playful, and intelligent and performs tricks just like any other dog would.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This pooch is well-loved by its owners because of its sweet and affectionate behavior. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also fond of curling up in pillows, just like the Norwegian Elkhound.
The Afghan Hound is a breed that takes after the elegance of a cat. It’s tall and slim and has a noble face with long, symmetrical legs. The Afghan Hound is also clean and practically germ-free compared to other dog breeds.
If you generally envision cats as being really smart and independent, then you can’t deny that the Pug also embodies those two traits. The breed is described as being a “dog with a cat’s brain.” In short, it has an attitude that most dog breeds would admire—it just doesn’t care.
Similar to the Pug, the Toy Poodle is a small dog with an air of feline behavior. The Toy Poodle can’t be bothered to play fetch or even be bothered by children tugging at its fur. But it will never hurt your feelings and will always welcome you with loving kisses.
The Pomeranian is a fluffy dog that looks like a ball of fluff—a cat-like appearance from which this pooch got its name. Despite being small, the Pomeranian doesn’t back down from dog fights and is ready to stand up for itself.
We already mentioned short-legged dogs that look like cats, but the Corgi is a short-legged dog that acts like a cat. The small and cunning breed sleeps and eats whenever it wants and doesn’t mind having its paws wiped after getting wet in the rain. This list is non-exhaustive, but these animals mimic cats physically and behaviorally to a tee. They’re practically, if not exactly, the same as your typical house cat. This is perhaps one way of looking at things from a strictly physical point of view.