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.
Yes, I definitely think if you are not lucky enough to be able to bring your pets in as kittens and puppies, or have an animal with the great personality that gets along with everybody, then space and gradual introduction is what should do the trick. They may never totally love each other, but if they can co-exist fairly happily, and let each other know who’s boss, they are all fine, and still happy, loved pets in great homes! When I brought Nina home, it WAS seeming like it was not going to work, tried the separate rooms, gradually bringing her out in her cat carrier, and Bear just went bonkers, barking and running around that carrier for all he was worth! But I was needing to make it work, as Nina was my Dad’s cat, and he could no longer care for her, I could not let her go to someone else-so we kept at it, gradually bringing them in the same room, her up on the sofa behind me, Bear on the floor, the whining, hissing went on, but she could run and hide, etc, and if he got too close-swipe across his nose! Did not really hurt him, just taught him not to mess with her-and then lo and behold, weeks, a month, I could never remember how long, but finally the pics of them sleeping together, hanging out on the deck together outside-I would let Bear out, and she would follow, stand right next to his legs as they both surveyed the yard, and welcomed the day! He would sometimes pretend to just tolerate her, but he would protect her from the other neighborhood dogs for sure-and she, she just loved him to pieces.
Oh, I remember now, Lynn, that it was a long process getting Bear and Nina to finally love each other! I loved the picture you painted of the two of them on the deck side by side, observing their territory. So sweet!
My dogs have always been afraid of my cats (yellow lab & terrier)…or at least “respected” them enough not to get in their faces, etc. My cats have always acted like they are superior to the dogs, and really I think the dogs knew enough to be afraid. lol. That being said, I think my cats have known that my particular dogs would never hurt them intentionally and felt free to lay about the house wherever they wanted, etc. without fear of being chased. Both dogs came into the house as puppies, but the cats both came in as 2 or 3 year old rescue cats. So maybe I just got lucky, or maybe it is, like Karen said (in the comment below) more based on personality. 🙂
Oh yes, I’d definitely agree that cats think they are superior to dogs. 🙂 Your cats especially seem to have a lot of attitude, Sheryl!
And the dogs do seem to respect that!
I think you are right, Karen, that personality is probably the big factor. I remember that episode with Zach and Shelby! The other funny thing is that Don Juan was the opposite of Zach….he loved anyone and everyone that we brought in….dog, cat, male, female, whatever, he loved them. (He was obviously named appropriately!) What’s funny about that is that he and Zach were half brothers!
I could comment on all of these stories, love them! This one, that is too appropriate, Jan, Don Juan’s name, and he loved everybody! I love the pic of he and Shelby, would have forgotten that totally.
I really liked this! We always had cats and then we brought a beagle into the fold. She fit right in. For some time we had both cats and dogs but now only a beagle and a lab. If I were to have a cat again I think I would bring a puppy and kitten in at the same time
Thanks for sharing your stories.
I think beagles are the biggest loves….I was quite surprised to see them on a list of dogs that might not get along with cats. Not our experience at all.
Thank you, Mary, I love sharing the stories and am glad that they are being enjoyed!
Karen Cantlin says
This reminded me of one of the times Shelby came visiting here with you, we heard her whining upstairs and went up to discover her at the end of the hallway unable to move because our cat Zach was in the middle of the hallway and would not let her by. Zach came into the household as a kitten and loved my poodle. But after the poodle was gone, whether it was a cat or a dog, Zach wanted nothing to do them. And he was a very lovable cat to all humans and loved attention. On the other hand, Rusty’s cat Draco who does not like to be picked up or held and runs at the sight of humans and was brought here when he was an adult, will play and sleep with all the beagles we have had. Our beagle Susie loves dragging him down the hallway and he has no problem with that and he got used to Susie faster than our other beagle did. So it may have as much to do with personality as it does cat vs dog.
Zach apparently had a one and only love in Geronimo! Susie dragging Draco, oh my, too funny!