Dogs and cats can be buddies . . . sort of

Let’s be honest, dogs and cats don’t really hang out much. Most people would say that this is because they have little in common, but that is not true:

  • Both lick their bottoms incessantly.
  • Both have a poo in full view whilst you are trying to having a meaningful conversation with a neighbour.
  • Both like trashing your slippers.
  • Both feel it is their right to sleep on your bed.
  • Both have in-built clocks when it comes to tea-time.
  • Both know when your guests don’t like their particular species and seem to get great pleasure from tormenting said guest by trying to get on their lap or nuzzle into the back of their legs.

Having said that, I will concur that there are several fundamental differences between cats and dogs:

  • Cats are way smarter than dogs – you can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow. How stupid would that be.
  • Dogs are more loving than cats – if a dog jumps on your lap it’s because she loves you – if a cat jumps on your lap it’s because your lap is warmer than the floor.
  • Cats won’t be trained – dogs come when they are called, cats take a message and get back to you.

We have a cat, so before Toffee came to live with us I spent a lot of time researching ‘integrating dogs and cats’ on Google. The advice was not to leave a puppy alone with a cat (the puppy would come off worst), make sure that your cat’s claws are trimmed (to limit the damage to the puppy), give the cat plenty of high up spaces (to escape from the puppy), and introduce them slowly. I did all of these things and it worked! . . . . Mostly.

The best way I can describe the relationship between Toffee and our cat, Strawberry (foodstuffs are a common theme in our house), is that between a hyperactive toddler and a slightly miffed teenager.

Strawberry is older so she knows a thing or two, and anyway she is a cat so is smarter. Strawberry spends most of her time looking at the dog like a 15 year-old whose Dad has gate crashed the lounge whilst she is trying to watch Twilight with her friends: “OK I have to tolerate you because you paid for the 27 inch plasma TV, the Pepsi Max and the Cheese Doritos but you are seriously an embarassment to humanity in that sock and sandal combo and if you dare to try and make conversation I will just absolutely die.” Come to think of it, the cat spends a lot of time looking at me that way too.

On the other hand Toffee is like a 3 year-old who has just discovered the joy of coco pops and that if you burp really loudly your buddies think it’s funny. She is not interested in being cool and understated, she just wants to play and be in your face.

This is not always a great combination.

I have noticed that Strawberry likes to be in Toffee’s company. Like her human teenage counterpart she is bored and what else would she do any way. She also likes to wind Toffee up by sitting on top of the sofa arm and swishing her tail . . . just out of reach. (This reminds me of when I was a kid and my brother would just point at my head while I was trying to watch TV – seriously, he did that and man he could do it for a long time.) This tail swishing sends the dog absolutely nuts but as she is getting bigger and is learning to jump higher (Cockerpoos can jump super high), every now and then she is making contact with that tail and I can’t help a wry smile.

Toffee also loves sniffing Strawberry’s behind. If the cat is walking across the kitchen, you can bet your bottom dollar Toffee’s nose is attached to her bottom. It’s like watching those little magnetic trains you used to have when you were a child. Strawberry, being too cool for school, pretends that nothing odd is afoot. Or maybe she just likes it? Who knows? It all kicks off when Toffee tries to pat Strawberry on the head by way of saying: “Thanks for letting me sniff your derriere, that was really kind of you. Perhaps you might like to sniff mine some time?” As far as Strawberry is concerned bottom-sniffing might be acceptable but head-patting is well out of order. Out comes the hiss and claw combo, which Toffee mistakes for play fighting: “Cool – you mean I can sniff your butt and we play fight too – this is like the best day ever!”

P1000216Like most ‘siblings’ they do get on and, interestingly, when Toffee had her ‘operation’ Strawberry wanted to be near Toffee all the time. This is when Strawberry loves Toffee the most – when she is working off the effects of a general anaesthetic and is incapacitated by abdominal surgery.

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