"Miss Jennifer, dogs and cats hate each other."
This one comes up often. Whether they get it from their own experiences or cartoons, it's something all of the students seem to believe.
We discuss how each dog and each cat is an individual. Some dogs actually really like the company of cats, and vice versa.
I tell them about Lily and our cats. She's loved them from the beginning. They weren't all that sure about her. They took their time warming up - she was hyper and big and stinky. She was very persistent, though. We had a baby gate up on the den to give the cats a safe place to retreat from this new family member. Lily would take her toys and line them up at the gate, and than lay there hoping that they would come out to play. (My heart is breaking that I can't find one of the pictures)
Pip was the first to warm up. She accepts anything we bring into this house - other cats, puppies, dogs. She's our cool cat. From the beginning, she knew not to run around the dog. She made it a point to seek her out first thing in the morning for a nose to nose greeting and a rub. And she was the first of the cats to sleep with Lily. (see picture to the left)
Next was Wednesday. Lily is scared of her. Wednesday set the tone from the beginning - and her message was very clear. I AM THE BOSS OF YOU. I can't tell you how many times a day we say, "Wednesday, BE NICE!" This little grey cat loves to torment Lily. She'll sucker her in by rubbing up against her, only to turn and swat her on the nose. If Lily has a cut, we know which cat did it. She's on a total power trip with the dog. The picture below is from one of her nice phases. Right now, she's back into the tormenting phase. She'll jump up on the back of the couch when Lily is up on it - within a few seconds, Lily is sliding off the couch to get away from her. She can back Lily off the water dish. She can even back her off her food.
And then there is Eowyn. For the first two years, Lily chased her often. She loved her sister because she thought it was a game. Now, Eowyn doesn't run around her much. Sometimes, she'll come racing across the room. Lily will watch her go. Once in awhile, Lily will try to engage her in play. But Eowyn is 11 and not interested in games with a dog. She does love her sister, though. She'll sleep next to Lily on her dog bed in the living room and rub all over her collar at night if I leave it on the floor.
Each of the cats has a very different relationship with their dog (because really, they own everything in the house, including the dog). Lily gets along well with my mom's cat as well. She thinks it's fun to chase the neighbor's cat, Bob, when he's lounging in our yard. She slows up before he reaches the gate, as though she's giving him space to jump the fence. Yesterday, she snuck into their yard and was play bowing to him through their back door (it's glass). He rewarded her with a hiss and a swat at the glass.
It's not that dogs and cats don't like each other really. Even when they do, their relationships can be complicated by their communication differences. Dogs have no idea what cats are telling them and dog communication seems completely foreign (and probably quite despicable) to cats.
What about you - do you have dogs and cats? How do they get along?