When we think about dogs and cats living together in perfect harmony, we more times than not say NO WAY! What is the real scoop with the two species. Is it a hate / hate relationship? Or are we just completely uninformed. The question we ask ourselves is do dogs and cats get along at all?
Is the saying fighting like cats and dogs something that we just say, or is it real?
In the past 30 years I have had the pleasure of owning both dogs and cats at the same time. This experience certainly has come in handy along the way.
History of cats and dogs
Looking into the history of cats and dogs we find that cats didn’t become household pets until the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Before that time frame cats were used typically for mousing the rodents away or sadly being used in testing for medical studies.
Once cats did become household pets, they were more often with the woman of the house than with the man. Women were in the home all day, so it only makes sense that they had a more prominent role in the connection with cats.
Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. The exact time frame is widely disputed as to when dogs actually became domesticated. Whether it was 40,000 years ago or 20,000 years ago, dogs have been with man in history for a very long time. One thing that is known is that man found dogs to be extremely useful in hunting, trapping and for companionship.
The history of when both species became pets was certainly at different times in history. Once they both became domestic pets, it was only a matter of time before they would be living together in the home.
Factors to a successful friendship
What are the factors that determine if our cats and dogs can live together in harmony? Are their things that we can do to make this a happy and peaceful household?
The answer is yes!
The ideal scenario for having a dog and cat live together harmoniously is to get them together as babies. Anytime you can have them grow up together as little ones, certainly makes things much easier.
When they grow up together, in my experience, it allows them to go through all the growing pains of their development at the same time. As we all know, kittens are super high energy and a bit crazy at times. Puppies also have high energy in short bursts. Having them learn to play together in those high energy times seems to really go a long way in them developing a much stronger bond.
I can say this, as I have had puppies and kittens at the same time and in my experience this was truly the case.
With that being said, nothing is fool proof. The breed of a dog, can and does play a part in whether the two get along.
Certain dog breeds are easier to adapt to having a cat as a sibling than others. Size and temperament will also play a factor in how well that relationship goes.
In my case, I had a brother and sister kittens with a German Shepherd puppy at the same time. That relationship was really quite good. They all could be free in my home to roam around without many incidents.
Obviously nothing is perfect all the time, but overall they all lived together as a family.
Jump ahead many years to my current dog BOO. When we got him as a puppy, we had 2 cats that were brothers AMOS and ANDY who were around 8 years old or so.
Well AMOS thought BOO was A OKAY! Andy, not so much.
He was a real jerk to BOO from day one. That relationship never really worked. The second you would turn your back ANDY would take a swipe at little BOO.
BOO of course just wanted ANDY to like him. Sadly that relationship did exist but not without issues all along the way.
What makes this scenario different from my previous experience? Well the truthful answer is ….my cat’s personality.
ANDY was always the dominate male cat that was kind of obessive about getting my full attention.
Yes dog breed plays a role with some dogs, but let’s not forget that your cats personality also will determine what that relationship looks can be.
In my case ANDY was super jealous of BOO and that caused that relationship to always be a bit strained. Overall they did find a way to co-exist, but it wasn’t the dream perfect relationship, but it did manage to work.
A humans body language plays a huge role in how new people interpret your personality, even at a first impression. A first impression between two people can go along way in determining how that relationship develops.
Cats and dogs body language also can be interpreted negatively or positively right from the first impression. The two species body cues are not the same.
With a dog, when he is on guard or uneasy, they can put their ears back, they growl, and the hair on the back of their neck stands up. They are super cautious about the interaction. Dogs like to sniff the other animal to see how they smell. This practice of determining their scent, can definitely put our cats on edge.
Cats on the other hand have a completely different body language. Normally they put their back up, there is usually hissing and a stiff fluffy tail. They are more apt to use their paws to bat or swipe at the new family member in a type of aggression. I have also seen many cats that do that side walk with their back up and moving towards the new family member. Just to show that they are unsure.
The theory between the two species is that they don’t understand the other’s body language, and for this reason there is a big miscommunication. This certainly can be the reason that the initial interactiion is negative reaction towards each other.
Time together always helps
Like anything that is good in the world, time can always make things sweeter. LOL!
Being able to co-exist together in the beginning of a new relationship, even though we may not know each other yet, time passing can dramatically change what that relationship looks like.
We have made it passed the first impressions now and are in our everyday routine. Like most relationships, the longer that you know someone, the more you can warm up to them.
Time can allow our pets to feel each other out and realize that neither one is a threat to the other. They realize that there is no cause to be on guard or act aggressively towards the other one.
With passing time, also comes some big time growing up. A kitten grows up to be a much more laid back adult cat just like a puppy grows into an adult dog who certainly has more patience.
Adult dogs and cats both change so much, having them grow up and change together is pretty amazing to watch.
Fighting like cats and dogs
The typical saying of fighting like cats and dogs, in my personal experience there can be a bit of truth to it, but really that depends on many factors.
Not every example of dogs and cats together is going to be the same.
Yes I have seen some pretty good relationship between both species and some that are a little strained forever. Keeping calm and bringing them together slowly, is always the right decision. No quick introductions and hoping for a magical reaction.
In my experience that is not the best way to approach that situation. I did say that trying to get them to meet as little ones, can make that transition of them living together in happiness easier, but we don’t always have that option.
Whether it’s getting that puppy with and adult cat or getting a kitten with an adult dog, it can absolutely work.
We can certainly compare this type of situation when you have a second baby with one already at home. There is always jealousy at the beginning. Being aware that is what is about to happen, you can do things to include the other somehow in a helping fashion. Making them part of the new exciting change goes a long way to having them feel included.
This can be a similar situation with dogs and cats which helps to answer the question “do dogs and cats get along”?
I believe yes they can. Please please make sure to give an equal amount of love and affection to both. We all know that a puppy or kitten requires more time than an adult, so be conscious of that. Treat both equally and you will have success.
Best of luck in blending your family together.
THE MORE THE MERRIER!!