Since the beginning of time, the cat’s greatest foe has been none other than man’s best friend. Canine and feline have spent centuries cracking humans up with their crazy antics. Whether it’s intense chases resembling those seen on Cops, or a cat ferociously swatting a playful puppy across the nose, cats and dogs are consistently portrayed as the greatest enemies. I, however, am here to bust this long-lived myth and demonstrate that our two favorite pets can not only co-habitate in peace, but also form a close bond and friendship.
I’ve heard people say that the only chance cats and dogs have of being friends is if they’re introduced as babies. This is considered especially true on the cat’s end. A cat needs to meet her canine roommate when she is a kitten. This is yet another myth.
I have had cats for as long as I can remember, and I’ve had dogs since I was seven. Take Bob, my family’s cat who is pushing 12. The first dog in his life was our Airedale terrier, Ali. When they met, Ali was a spry 12-week puppy with more energy than a toddler on Halloween night. Bob was about six or seven months. Airedales are the largest terriers and max-out at around 70 pounds, so even as a puppy, she wasn’t riding around in anyone’s purse. Now, upon their first meeting, Bob scurried up the nearest tree and remained there for over a day. Within a month, however, Bob was stuck to Ali like Velcro. Within a year of their relationship, they were absolutely disgusting to watch. Bob would spend hours grooming Ali, licking her ears and face, and purring the entire time. Once he was exhausted, he’d curl up against her and fall asleep. When Ali went outside, Bob followed. If Bob came inside, Ali was right behind him. They were prime examples of the “get a room” expression.
About a year ago, Bob and Ali gained a new canine companion when Mabel joined my parent’s household. Mabel was a rescued 3-year old boxer/bird dog mutt. She’s a great dog, but again, has lots of energy and was instantly intrigued by Bob. After a couple months of adjustments, chases, and bloody noses on Mabel’s end, Bob finally warmed up. The three were thick as thieves, and Bob’s nightly grooming business acquired a new customer.
About six months after Mabel joined the group, my parents had to make the tough decision to have Ali put to sleep. Don’t cry too much, she was a 14-year old dog who was only supposed to last 8-10 years! Nonetheless, it was very sad. Bob and Mabel mourned, but as animals do, they bounced back quickly and never missed a beat. Now it is Bob and Mabel who spend countless hours licking, cuddling, grooming, and making everyone around them gag in horror and disgust. I really cannot emphasize enough how bizarre and disturbing this cat’s relationship was and is with these two dogs!
Now take my cat, Izzy, a three year old SPCA adoptee. She spent the first part of her life with me as an only child. She had my full attention and love. She also had the run of the house and a firm stake on the proverbial throne. A little over a year ago, however, Izzy was given the shock of her life when I came home one day with a seven-week-old beagle puppy. For the first week or two, Izzy spent the bulk of her time outside, covertly scampering in only to scarf down some food and then hurry back out. As in Bob’s case, however, within a month, Izzy got used to running in and immediately having a puppy on her tail. After about three months, I would catch Daisy, the beagle, and Izzy romping around together, chasing each other and all around enjoying each other. Now, after a year, they are pretty good friends. They are each other’s primary playmate and even sleep together on a fairly regular basis. I’ll find them curled up on the same chair, snoozing the day away. Their favorite activity is a two-sided game of chase. Daisy will start out chasing Izzy around the house, each fish-tailing on the wood floors with every turn. Then, Izzy will stop and turn the tables, as she flies around in a 180 and makes Daisy the prey. They do this for a good half hour, before collapsing in an exhausted heap on the couch. It is quite a sight to behold, as I realize I have truly odd pets. Daisy is exceedingly protective over Izzy, and even though my spunky cat still has moments of pure annoyance and aggravation where Daisy is concerned, there seems to be a fairly tight bond between them.
Maybe I am over-analyzing animal behavior or attributing human characteristics to animals, but I know what I see. I see cats who accept, and even like, dogs. This is undeniable. Maybe I have special cats and dogs, but I doubt it. I think it’s a matter of the owners allowing these two species to interact, even if that means occasional hissing, barking, chasing, and scratching. This is all a part of nature, and if you’ll just let them get used to one another, chances are, they’ll eventually become civil, friendly and occasionally even loving.