I have a small porcelain ornament that I have hung on to for sentimental reasons, which shows a cat lovingly ‘furring’ round a dog, and I wistfully thought it would be a wonderful thing in reality. I have always hankered for the vision of a dog curled up in front of the fireplace, with its paw lovingly placed over the top of the cat. What a dreamer I was.
A few years ago, we had two cats, brothers from the same litter, and as far as cats go, they were buddies, and ganged up on any other cats who were brave enough (or stupid enough) to even put one claw on their turf, they only had 3 eyes between them, but it didn’t stop them defending their own property. They eventually learned how to use the cat flap in the back door, after a few experiences where they got halfway through, changed their minds and unsuccessfully tried to back out trapping themselves midway, which didn’t go down too well.
We then introduced a dog, in fact he was a puppy, a great big gangly looking thing with long legs, a whippy tail, boundless energy and a bark that would scare burglars before they even broke in – and his hearing was so acute, I swear he could hear a butterfly cough a mile away.
We brought him into the house on a lead, and into the room where the cats were enjoying a post-breakfast nap, and after a bit of nosing by the dog, both woke up – and honest to God, they were the image of those cartoon cats – they exploded into spikey furballs, wide-eyed with horror – and took off through the catflap, with the dog in hot pursuit.
Fortunately for them (but not for him) the catflap was too small for him to get through, and he too, got trapped less than midway, and from the outside was this big, goofy, panting, tongue-lolling creature’s head, eagerly watching the mad-eyed cats leap over the back wall (I was impressed at where those two overfed middle-aged cats found the energy and agility to execute such a superb move).
Happily with time they all got on OK, well, tolerated each other I suppose. They never became best friends - the cats would run and the dog would run alongside them looking for a bit of fun, but eventually a hiss and a smack on the nose with extended claws a few times taught him that they would never stop and play. Never once did they curl up together in front of the fire, always the dog would get a three-eyed 10-yard glare if he ever got close enough to try to share their space in the heat, and he would settle for a spot at a respectful distance just outside their reach.
Dogs have a natural instinct to chase smaller animals – I see that with the dogs I have now who always want to take off after a rabbit if they see one. We still have the dog mentioned above, but he is elderly and blind now, but his sense of smell is still there, and can sniff out where a rabbit must have stopped to admire the view earlier. I read now that the dog and the cats should have been brought into the home at the same time as youngsters, and it might have been a different story, and the cute scenario of cuddling up may have been achievable. But at the end of the day, that they even tolerated being in the same room together, was good enough for me!