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Cat/Dog Dichotomy

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Why must I be like that?
Why must I chase the cat?
Ain't nothing but the dog in me
George Clinton, Atomic Dog

Using cats and dogs to represent Foils or Evil Counterparts (i.e. Heroes Love Dogs and Right-Hand Cat, Heroic Dog and Cats Are Mean, or Dogs Are Dumb and Cats Are Superior, inversions include Beware of Vicious Dog/Mister Muffykins and Cute Kitten/Buffoonish Tomcat, or Savage Wolves and King of Beasts).

A subtrope of Animal Jingoism and a Super-Trope to Heroic Canines, Villainous Felines; Canines Primary, Felines Secondary; Female Feline, Male Mutt.

Note: This trope is for contrast between felines and canines with no clear moral alignment. For when they are good or bad, use Heroic Canines, Villainous Felines.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In BL stories, there is a relationship type called Wanko-nyanko ("doggy-kitty"), where the Seme is faithful and devoted like a dog (a wanko or hetare wanko) and the Uke is temperamental and demanding like a cat (tsundere or an ojou).
  • Bungo Stray Dogs features Nakajima Atsushi, who has the power to turn into a white tiger (i.e a large cat) and often gets into fights and/or petty squabbles with Akutagawa Ryuunosuke, who has a dog Animal Motif. The further the story progresses, they have to work together to defeat a common enemy and goes about as well as you'd expect.
  • Dog Days starts off as dog people and cat people at war (although they're actually allies and it's Harmless War for Fun and Profit). The second season changes it to dogs vs. cats vs. squirrels.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • One Piece:
    • Lucci and Jabra of CP9 black ops group can shapeshift to a leopard and a wolf respectively. Both are also rivals to each other, although Lucci takes it less seriously than Jabra does.
    • Dogstorm and Cat Viper are the two Mink leaders of the island of Zou. They used to be friends, but nowadays they refuse to even see face-to-face, with Dogstorm being active on the day and Cat Viper at night. Dogstorm is the more regal, composed and polite one, while Cat Viper is the more energetic, stubborn and informal one.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Kaguya is the Cat with her aloof nature, and Shirogane is the Dog with his tireless work ethic. Interestingly, both of them like the opposite animal, and describe their positive traits in a way that also describes what they like in the other person.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion embodies this trope with the Animal Motifs of Shinji and Asuka. Shinji is obedient, meek, and wishes to be respected by his superiors; he is often dubbed "Puppy Boy". Asuka, meanwhile, is a brash, violent Tsundere, and her Eva Unit's Beast Mode looks like a giant cat. Also doubles as an Animal Motifs edition of Female Feline, Male Mutt.
  • Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san revolves around this trope, combined with Opposites Attract. Inugami is a dog-like girl who loves cats, and Nekoyama is a cat-like girl who loves dogs. Les Yay ensues.
  • Shiki and Mikiya from The Garden of Sinners don't own any pets (except that one time in a bonus manga for the bonus chapter where Mikiya temporarily takes care of a cat), but throughout the novel, the moody and violent Shiki is consistently ascribed feline qualities, while the level-headed and loyal Mikiya is repeatedly compared to a puppy. Nobody can quite explain why, but the two of them fall for each other immediately and never look back. Like Rebuild's case, it also doubles as an Animal Motifs edition of Female Feline, Male Mutt.

  • Jeff Foxworthy notes that rural cuckoos seem to prefer hoarding dogs: "If your front porch collapses and kills more than three dogs, you might be a redneck." In contrast, Jerry Seinfeld observes that the Crazy Cat Lady often lives in midtown Manhattan, having hopelessly aged out of the singles scene. Thus, according to comedians, cats = urban, dogs = rural.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: While the cat part is obvious with Catwoman, the dog part's a bit more obscure with Batman: for instance, he has had Ace the Bat-Hound as a companion, and several of his things (mostly vehicles) have been called the Flying Fox, which are named after a group of bats in turn named after a canid.
  • The Punisher: Frank blackmails a callgirl into posing as her chauffeur to get into a crimelord's private party. Her backstory explains that she puts men in two categories (dogs and wolves) depending on their attitudes towards others. After Frank massacres the crimelord and his bodyguards then barehandedly takes out a few rapists in as many seconds, he gets put in his own category: some men are lions.
  • Wolverine is frequently compared to a canine, typically a wolf or dog (although wolverines are actually mustelids). Meanwhile his Arch-Enemy Sabretooth is named after a prehistoric big cat and his costume evokes a lion.
  • Patsy Walker became the heroine Hellcat. Her Psycho Ex Buzz Baxter became the villain Mad Dog.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Bolt is a dog who journeys across America with Mittens the cat to reunite with child actor Penny. The two start out in New York as adversaries; however Character Development en route turns them into Fire-Forged Friends. They even include the hamster Rhino in their company.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Cats & Dogs sequel, two rival agencies of cats and dogs have to reluctantly work together to stop a cat villain.
  • The rarity of a person owning both in fiction is lampshaded in Ghostbusters:
    Dr. Venkman: Dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Princess Donut the Queen Anne Chonk has very firm opinions about dogs. Running over them with a car, for example, is a point in a person's favour, even if that person is otherwise a Complete Monster.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, the Starks and the Lannister are enemies, with their sigils being a direwolf (dog) and lion (cat), as most characters in both families are morally ambiguous, is hard to tell which ones are really heroic or villainous.
  • Katt vs. Dogg's premise is entirely built on this trope, which presents a longlasting hatred between dogs and cats, and two kids each of such species who have to work with each other when they get lost in the woods.
  • Two of the main characters, Matroskin the cat and Sharik the dog, in Edward Uspensky’s Prostokvashino franchise. Matroskin sees himself as the sophisticated one, but usually, whenever they fight, it’s their human friends who have the last word.
  • This is used in two different Erin Hunter series:
    • Warriors stars groups of feral cat colonies living in a forest together. They rarely come across dogs, and the ones they do come across are usually either chained on leashes or are "annoying" small pets. The cats either dislike dogs (with one even mentioning they're disgusting because they don't bury their "dirt" like cats) or are neutral towards them.
    • Survivors mainly stars groups of pet dogs who become strays after their owners evacuate after an earthquake. The dogs see cats (or "sharpclaws" as they call them) as annoying pests but they're not anything worth getting frustrated about. They're rather neutral on cats, though Lucky (being a city stray) dislikes cats and negatively comments on how sadistic cats can be towards prey.
  • It turns out cats in Tailchaser's Song have a "Just So" Story on why dogs and cats are enemies. Once upon a time, a cat tricked the king of the dogs. Dogs have been unable to get over this great embarrassment and won't let cats live it down.

    Live-Action Television 
  • On an episode of Friends, Joey has a dream in which he is intelligent and doing a crossword puzzle. The clue he dreams up is "Not 'dog', but...", and the answer is "cat".

  • One sketch in John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme has the UK become entirely divided into cat people and dog people, with this affecting hiring practices and even political allegience, until eventually the country is in a state of civil war over the subject. But then one radio comedian stands up and says "I like dogs and cats equally." By being equally distrusted by both sides, he is able to unite the factions and rebuild society. Until the pigeon-fanciers stage a coup.

    Video Games 
  • The question "Do you prefer cats or dogs?" has become a part of some Player Character creation menus, and can have some repercussions on the game (though usually rather minor):
  • AkaSeka: Natsume Sōseki is obsessed with cats and and Tokugawa Tsunayoshi is obsessed with dogs, so they develop a rivalry over their favorite animals of choice the moment they meet.
  • The age-old quarrel comes up in a skit in Tales of Berseria. Magilou and Eizen pick cats (Magilou because of their association with witches, Eizen because they're adorable). Velvet and Eleanor pick dogs (Velvet because they're loyal, Eleanor because they're easily domesticated). Rokurou hates them both, and Bienfu picks himself.
  • Played with in Crusader Kings. In the Holy Fury expansion for the sequel, cats and dogs are playable rulers and can have a wide variety of relationships throughout gameplay.
    • This trope is played straightest when the animal kingdoms are generated with Historic cultures, as kingdoms will become monospecies. If a dog nation and cat nation share a border, they will likely go to war due to their differing cultures and religions.
    • This trope is mostly averted if the cultures are generated randomly. It's not uncommon to find dogs and cats serving as lieges and vassals within the same nation. While there is a minor opinion penalty due to the difference in culture, this is almost never enough for the AI to start antagonizing its own citizens.
  • Splatoon used this as its first ever North American Splatfest, and as a later Splatfest in Europe. Players were asked to vote for their favorite animal, then to battle it out among those who chose the same as them. Team Dog won the North American Splatfest, while Team Cat claimed victory in Europe.

    Web Comics 
  • Pixie and Brutus: Pixie, the cat, is everything Brutus, the dog, is not; she's small, cheerful, naive, hyperactive, and affectionate. Brutus, meanwhile, is big, straight-laced, deadpan, unflappable, and gruff. Brutus served in the military; Pixie's never been further than her front yard, and the most dangerous thing she's ever encountered is the stairs. The Animal Jingoism part, however, is entirely averted; they get along famously.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, mages Lalli and Reynir have this going on:
    • Lalli all around acts enough like a cat to elicit jokes about being a cat in a human body from both the author and the fandom. He also has No Social Skills and is The Quiet One. His luonto is a lynx (in other words, a big cat).
    • Reynir is a Genki Guy who tries to overcompensate his stowaway status by being as friendly and helpful as possible. His fylgja is a sheepdog.

    Western Animation 
  • CatDog: Cat is proper and stuck-up, Dog is fun loving and messy. Trope image.
  • Doug has a dog named Porkchop. Roger (who bullies him) has a cat named Stinky.
  • Magiki: Countess Elizabeth is a dutiful and uptight dog. Sir Kitty Cat is an irresponsible and chatty cat.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show inverts the usual rules of this trope. Stimpy is dumb and Ren is smart, averting Dogs Are Dumb on Ren's part and Cats Are Superior and Cats Are Mean on Stimpy's part.
  • The protagonists of The Ruff & Reddy Show firmly ensconce the Cute Kitten and Dogs Are Dumb arenas, although Reddy can waft into Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass territory.
  • Gasp!: Dogbox is dumber than dirt; Catflap is a snarky intellectual usually found with her nose in a book.
  • In Animaniacs Rita, the cat, is a smart, cynical Jerk with a Heart of Gold while Runt, the dog, is good natured and personifies the Dogs Are Dumb trope, not even realizing that Rita is a cat.
  • Hanna-Barbera's Lippy & Hardy stretches this a bit. Lippy is a lion (related to cats) while Hardy is a lugubrious hyena (relation to dogs). They're what the theme calls "the most laughable, lovable losers by far."