They’re natural enemies, right. They go together like oil and water, like flame and gasoline, like nitroglycerin and a bumpy road. But, in spite of their storied history of animosity, is it possible that dogs and cats can live together?
If dogs and cats can live together in peace and tranquility, anything is possible, even Middle East Peace. Imagine living in harmony with a dog and cat in your house. Let’s get really crazy and imagine that your cat and dog are both friends – even BFFs.
In most cases, this is a hollow dream. Bring a cat into a home with a dog and, batten down the hatches, the furniture is about to fly. Bring a dog into a cat’s home and the cat will probably vanish from sight until the dog leaves again.
While the idea of dogs and cats cohabiting peacefully is not likely or common, it’s not unheard of. It generally depends on the proper circumstances to bring the cat and dog together as friends.
It’s really a question of timing. If the cat and dog meet at the right time, they might just become friends. So, what is ‘the right time?’
Dogs: For dogs, it’s essential that they meet a cat during what is commonly called their primary socialization period. This is the period when the dog is a puppy – up until they’re about nine or 10 weeks old.
Cats: Cats also have a time period when they are more accessible, from a dog’s perspective. And, it happens that the time period for a cat is about the same as for a dog. In other words, put a puppy and kitten together and they might just get along as they grow into adult dogs and cats.
By putting a kitten and puppy together, before they know that they’re enemies, you stand a chance of short-circuiting the confrontational behavior that is considered normal between their species.
Of course, any time you put a cat and dog together, you risk more than hurt feelings – yours or theirs. You also risk physical injury. The dog could maul the cat, even if the dog thinks he is just playing. The cat could act defensively and shred the dog’s nose with his claws. And you can wind up with your hand badly injured because you stuck your hand between them when they were doing what comes naturally.
If you approach it right, however, as Bill Murray put it in the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” And the hysteria will be the reactions of your friends when they see your dog and cat get along together.