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Entangled species: When cat meets dog

There’s an old cartoon that describes the new and evolving relationship in my house — between Ace (up to now an only pet) and a recently arrived cat named Mister.

Ace has always exhibited an intense interest in cats — not so much in consuming them, it seemed, but just in meeting them.

Whenever he sees one, he becomes something resembling ecstatic. He tugs me toward them, pants, drools a little. He’s met a couple, while on a leash — and in both cases he didn’t want to leave them. I’d thought a bit about getting him one for a housemate.

So I was curious how it would go when Mister was dropped off. He’s a big, orange foster cat whose owner is going to Iraq. A dog park friend and seasoned cat rescuer had taken responsibility for finding him a new home.

For the first couple of days, Mister stayed in an unreachable nook of the bathroom. When he did come downstairs, he took to camping under the couch. He doesn’t seem exactly fearful of Ace, but does give off a don’t mess with me vibe, and hissed and swatted at him a few times in the first week.

Ace, meanwhile, gives off a vibe not unlike that of an awkward and overeager suitor.

Gradually, very gradually, Mister has shown signs of being a little more at ease around Ace, tolerating Ace getting within a few feet before he gives the dog a sideways glance that makes Ace back off and his face take on a look of confused rejection.

I’m not sure if Ace wants to play, or just get a good long sniff, but he has become entirely obsessed with the cat, and will lay for hours with his nose at the foot of the couch, waiting for the cat, who of course never comes out.

Of course, being human, I want them to hit it off, become best friends, play together, snuggle up with each other at night and create cute photo opportunities.

We’re still undecided on whether Mister will remain. There’s another family interested in him. Maybe he would be happier in a dog-free house. Maybe Ace would be happier being an only pet again.

For now, though, it’s like that old cartoon I mentioned. It shows a dog and a cat together. The dog has a blissful look on his face, and his thought bubble reads “True love!!!” The cat has a detached look of “whatever” on his puss and his thought bubble reads, “Detente.”


Comment from MG
Time September 7, 2008 at 8:57 am

Dogs and cats are amusing to say the least.
3 cats and 1 dog in this house.

Cat#1-Reciprocated love.No boss.
Sleep together,share food, treats,hang out,play,walk together on split leash.
Other dogs secretly laugh at them.
Cats think this is just a small funny looking 2nd dog.

Cat#2 Reciprocated love but cat calls the shots.You could get slapped if you don`t follow the cat rules.

Cat#3-I`m allowed to walk up to you when I`m in a good mood and rub up against you but don`t sniff,look at me with a twinkle in your eye or think we`re now having a relationship.I may not do this again for a week.You just have to wait for it.
NEVER approach me on your own.
If I`m in a bad mood,run for your kennel.
Dem`s the rules!

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time September 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I had a very good friend who lived in the country and adopted numerous dogs and cats of assorted sizes. They all lived together quite peacefully. She had a little sign in her kitchen that read, “Women and cats do as they please. Men and dogs had better get used to it.” That about sums it up.

Comment from bluhawkk
Time September 8, 2008 at 5:27 am

I assume Mister is older and from a single animal household.
It would be better if they could sniff and become acquainted through a barrier where the cat, new to the territory, would feel safe, be able to eat and go potty at will.
I sure hope Ace and Mister work it out.

Comment from carey
Time September 10, 2008 at 9:08 am

I’m pretty sure they will be fine. It only took a day or two for my friend’s cats to warm up to Bim when we stayed there. My favorite moment was when I woke up to find Bim staring at me. He never wakes up before I do. He was just sitting there, staring. Still. Intent. Then I turned around and saw the cat sitting on the back of the sofa staring back at him lol. God knows how long that had been going on before I woke up.