We have always had cats in our household, they were actually here before the dogs came along. I don’t remember it ever being a major problem when we started bringing dogs home. I used to be under the impression that dogs and cats cannot get along. I wonder how many people still believe that old expression.
I do remember when we brought our cat Conrad home from the shelter and introduced him to our dog Shelby, that I ended up with a big tear in my shirt. That was after Conrad had already spent his first week with us hiding under the bed. We had given him his own room and tried to introduce him to the household slowly. However, Conrad was (and still is) pretty much afraid of everything and everyone (he does warm up to people in time though). He was probably a stray for some time before someone was actually able to get a hold of him and bring him to the shelter. He adjusted to the other cats with no problems, but he has never gotten used to the bigger dogs. He is OK with our smaller beagles, but keeps his distance from the golden retrievers. On occasion he will hold his ground on the bed when one of the dogs jumps up, if he is comfortable enough. The worst that happens is that he will give out a big hiss as he leaves. The dogs are smart enough to just ignore him. At other times I have seen Conrad stand his ground on the stairs, as our 70 lb. golden retriever stands there whining, because he wants to go by, but is afraid to pass the cat.
Our other cat Samantha is often seen rubbing up against one of the dogs, big or small. The dogs tolerate this, though they often look like they are not quite sure what to make of it! Samantha has no issues with the dogs. She has always been kind of a loner, and mostly likes to find a quiet place to hide by herself anyway.
Which brings up the question, where did that old saying “fighting like cats and dogs” come from? In our household the only serious fights have been dog vs. dog. A little internet research turns up the explanation that dogs like to chase small objects or critters, such as cats. I know that to be true, as all of our dogs, except for the older beagle; do occasionally like to give chase to one of the cats, if the cat is willing to run (which Conrad usually is). But they always get yelled at, and they always stop. Our cat, Katie, who we lost just over a year ago to cancer, was especially good at this game. We are sure that she took enjoyment in getting the dogs to chase her, knowing that they would get yelled at. Her favorite trick was to let them chase, then stop dead in her tracks and turn around and sit there. The dogs had no clue what to do then!
My research also gleaned the information that the key to dogs and cats getting along is proper introductions and proper training on the dog’s part. If they are introduced as puppies and kittens that is even better. I find this to be good practice anyway when bringing any new animal home. Both species are territorial and need to adjust to a new family member gradually, whether it is a canine or a feline.
There are lists to be found of dog breeds that may or may not get along especially well with cats. In different locations I found beagles on both lists. Beagles and some other breeds supposedly have a high prey drive which would make them more prone to chasing. But in my household the beagles would never harm one of the cats. So I would not trust these lists to be 100% accurate, but if you are choosing a new pet, it could still be a guideline to keep in mind. However, I would concern yourself far more with following the proper steps of introduction. If you are adopting a dog from a rescue or humane society, they may have a history of how they get along with cats. The same goes with a cat, they may have an idea of how it gets along with other pets when you are choosing from the shelter.
I don’t really see this as a dog vs. cat issue. It is more of an issue of how any new animal will get along in a new home with other animals. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I hope that most of the time, if done properly, it does. My sister lost her dog recently. He got along great with her cat, though I think it might have taken an adjustment period when she first brought the cat, Nina, home. She had had another cat visiting her home after her dog was gone, and her cat wanted nothing to do with the other cat. But my sister feels strongly that Nina will be more than happy when she brings a new dog home.
My pets act just like human siblings sometimes. Some days they just don’t get along and minor spats occur. The next thing we know they are laying on the bed with their heads touching, sound asleep. My beagles will also spend much time sitting below the kitchen counter watching the cats eat. Maybe they will throw them a scrap here or there….the beagles love a nibble of cat food…and for them that might be a good enough reason right there to keep the cats around.