Fighting like ‘Cats and Dogs’ – Can these mortal enemies really be friends?

by on March 19th, 2010 at 7:00 am

Common sense tells me that cats and dogs have a hard time getting along, hence the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs”. But lately, I’ve seen some of the cutest and funniest photos of this “unlikely pair”, cuddling, canoodling and wrestling around, and there is even a book out now to promote the ability to get along with other personality types aptly named ‘Frenemies: Cats, Dogs and the Lessons in Getting Along’.

Throughout the years, there has been a widespread notion that these two species despise each other and will never be pals. It doesn’t help that cartoons typically depict dogs chasing after a cat. Case in point, Garfield and Odie– granted, the two weren’t the most violent of nemeses, but their trials and tribulations were due to the constant persecution of each other. So why are all these stories, photos and books popping up with cats and dogs being the best of friends?

When and how do cats and dogs become friends? Research shows that introducing a cat and a dog at an early age will make them more likely to become “friends”. Since kittens and puppies are a blank slate, they will learn to accept the other. Keep in mind we are still talking about two animals with two very distinctive personalities. Would they grow up to “learn” to dislike each other? Not so, say many animal specialists. If the facts ring true then these two can live in peace and tranquility.

But what if an older pet is the first resident and a young stranger comes to live? This would be where more instinctual behaviors surface. Both cats and dogs have a territorial nature, so they may need to hang out for a while in their own corners of the house.

Although it may not be the nicest course of action, confining the first resident so that the second resident can have free range to survey his/her territory may be a good option. Another good option is keeping their food dishes apart and trying not to give more attention to the newcomer. In the end, cats and dogs are very social creatures and by giving them the time and space they need, they will soon adapt well to the other’s behavior.

In any case of dog meets cat or cat meets dog, owners should focus on creating a safe haven for the cat and dog to co-exist, and until sure they are friends, not leave them alone together.

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