You know, there’s real truth behind the saying “fighting like cats and dogs”. It’s because these two animals don’t usually get along. However, there are some things you can do to ensure harmonious living between your cats and dogs.
Raise Them Together
If you have the option, raise your kittens and puppies together. When we moved to a farm, I was 10. Dad brought home a black and white puppy (a border collie) and a black and white kitten. The two were best buds their whole lives. We still tell stories about these two and their antics. When you raise the two together, they learn each other’s body language early on. This enables both the dog and the cat to recognize when they have pushed the other too far. Plus, they really learn to like each other.
Choose Breeds Wisely
Almost all cats are predatory. They have a very strong prey drive – that’s why they pounce on anything that moves. Some really sweet cats learn to play without using their claws, but if they haven’t been raised that way, they will use their claws to grab on. It is the act of pulling away that causes claw marks.
Some dogs are nurturing, and some are prey driven. We have two Alaskan Malamutes. This breed was developed to hunt for its own food in the harsh environs of Alaska, eating anything that moves. This does not mix well with our Tabby cat. We NEVER leave our Mals alone with the cat, because even though she has her claws, our dogs have demonstrated that they can work as a team, with one distracting while the other goes in for the kill. That’s how they get the opossum and raccoons that wander into our yard.
We also have a collie – the kind that looks like Lassie. This is a very nurturing dog, who is protective of his lambs. His lambs are anything in his house and yard, including the cat. The drawback to this is that the collie wants to play chase with the cat, which triggers the prey drive in our Mals.
If yours is to be a “blended family” of pets, with rescued animals or pets that belong to your new spouse or stepchildren, you can take precautions to ease the introduction. First of all, try to introduce the animals in a neutral environment. Cats and dogs both can be very territorial, and if you bring a strange animal into your home, the pet that already lives there might react differently than he would in a neutral area.
Also, try to introduce the animals at eye level. If there is any aggression or fear, remove both animals for a few minutes and try again. Keep this up until they are bored with the activity, and ignore the other animal.
Allowing your cat to “teach the dog a lesson” can result in a blind dog and expensive vet bills. By the same token, you don’t want to end up with a dead cat. Always supervise their interactions.