Can Dogs and Cats Live Happily Together?

Well the simple answer to this question is yes they can and they often do!

Mon 19 Mar 2018

By Judy

Can Dogs and Cats Live Happily Together?

Can Dogs and Cats Live Happily Together?

Well the simple answer to this question is yes they can and they often do! Many pet owners experience the joy of owning dogs and cats at the same time without problems; in fact a dog and a cat can often form a close bond. It’s true to say however, not every dog and cat will get along, just like humans, and choosing the right breed of dog to live with a cat is important. Dogs in the terrier group that were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin may retain their deep-rooted instinct to chase cats. Although many owners of terrier breeds such as the popular Westie and Cairn Terriers also own cats too, so really there is no hard and fast rule.

Introducing pets at an early age can help form a happy friendship for life

The key to a happy and harmonious relationship between a cat and a dog is introducing them together from an early age. Good socialisation skills from an early age can really affect help cement a bond between a cat and a dog for life.

An important aspect of owning a cat and dog is respecting their individual space and private times. Your cat should have places to escape to relax or sleep well away from the family dog. Meal times can be another contentious time that could cause conflict between your pets, so ensure both can feed quietly without the threat of food theft from the other pet.

Owning more than one dog along with a cat may be problematic, and can lead to pack behaviour.

Which dog breeds tend to get on well with cats?

Each individual dog has its own unique temperament, so establishing whether a specific breed will be cat friendly is rather difficult to predict. However, breeds such as the family friendly Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Pug and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel often get on well with cats if well socialised. Breeds such as the Komondor and the elegant Afghan Hound are likely to chase and possibly even harm cats.

My own experience of owning a cat and dog together

A few years ago I owned a cat called Korky. At the age of seven he went missing, and despite launching a thorough search we were unable to find him. Our hopes of finding Korky were shattered when a neighbour informed us they had seen a dead cat on the road fitting Korky’s description. We were convinced Korky had been the victim of road traffic accident on a busy road a few hundred yards from our house.

After 3 months we decided the house was too quiet without a pet, and decided to take on a Border Collie puppy called Paddy.  Paddy was around 14 weeks old when one evening we heard the familiar meow of Korky after entering through the cat flap! We were speechless. He appeared to be in good health, and we can only assume someone had taken him in and kept him for all that time. We were truly delighted to see him and he jumped on my lap, purring away contentedly until he spotted Paddy in his basket. Immediately there was a sharp hiss, and the fur on his back stood up. Korky was not happy!

Thinking back it must have been awful for Korky to return home, really not knowing what had happened to him during those 3 months to find us owning an energetic new puppy! Our immediate concern was would they both get along together? Our concerns were unfounded, as within a couple of weeks both Paddy and Korky formed a good friendship. Yes, there were a few moments when we worried, but Korky was a feisty cat and if play time became too rough, he simply put Paddy in his place with the swipe of his paw. We actually cried when we saw them together for the first time cuddled up together sleeping in their basket.

Sadly Korky had to be put to sleep at the age of 12 years, and Paddy seemed to share our loss. He looked sad and  appeared to look for Korky around the house. Maybe dog and cats do have special powers of communication between them? Who knows? One thing is for sure is they developed a special bond despite all the odds and enriched our lives so much.

The old saying of “fighting like cat and dog” certainly did not apply in the case of Paddy and Korky.