Gen Y Dogma: How to (Semi) Successfully Get Your Cat And Dog To Like E

Christina Peden
by Christina Peden
When Christina Peden brought Matilda home, she was introduced to her reluctant cat brother, Oscar. And like any set of siblings, they didn’t see eye-to-eye… on pretty much everything.

“They get along like cats and dogs” — hardy har har har.

Alright, so the saying might be a total cliché, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a kernel of truth to it.

While you hear those rare stories of pooches and kitties who are the best of buds, those kinds of duos are definitely the exception to the rule (at least in my experience!).

My boyfriend Ryan and I adopted our Border Collie-Lab mix Matilda about nine months ago and suffice it to say, Ryan’s eight-year-old tuxedo cat Oscar was less-than-thrilled.

Used to being the king of the castle, Oscar was none-too-happy to have a rambunctious, spazzed out puppy in his face 24/7. It’s certainly been a bumpy ride, but I can honestly say that now, the two of them mostly get along (or at least semi-peacefully co-exist). Sometimes, when they think we’re not looking, they’re even affectionate with one another.

Related: Pet Parenting For Gen Y

This week, I’ll be talking about what it was like when we first brought Matilda home, how Oscar reacted and how their relationship has changed over time. If you already have a cat and are thinking about adding a dog to the mix, I hope this will give you a good idea of what to expect when you put these seemingly-at-odds species under the same roof!

Why a dog? And why then?

It’s true, we had a very happy and relatively snuggly cat in Oscar (and still do!). We’d both grown up with cats, but we also both had dogs when we were kids, and we missed the energy and personality that they bring to a household. Some people label themselves as a “cat person” or a “dog person”. We’re both. And we wanted to have both in our little family; so, the search for the perfect pooch began.

Ryan also knew, from past experience, that Oscar was okay around dogs. He’d been around them before and for the most part, was happy to just do his own thing and ignore them provided they did the same. “Provided they do the same” being the key concept here.

We probably should have known that being a puppy, Matilda would have other things in mind.

The Reckoning (a.k.a. Matilda comes home)

I probably don’t need to tell you that Oscar was equal parts horrified and offended that we had brought such a vile creature into “his” house. If looks could kill, Matilda would but a distant memory.

Related: And Puppy Makes Three

Thankfully, Oscar’s attempted death stare wasn’t lethal and the little tail-wagger is still with us.

I think for about the first day or so, Oscar hid under our bed and wouldn’t come out unless he was sure Matilda was sleeping. We took his food and water dish upstairs to the bedroom and let him hang out there to his heart’s content until he felt ready to come down. Thankfully, Matilda was still so small that she couldn’t yet climb the stairs, so Oscar had a pretty decent reprieve while he tried to wrap his head around the sudden appearance of this ridiculous new beast.

Once he had (sort of) gotten used to the idea of having Matilda around, he started hanging out in the living room again. In fact, he took up residence on top of Matilda’s crate. We had draped a sleeping bag over it to create a darker, more cave-like atmosphere for Matilda; little did we know it would also make the perfect cat bed!

It also gave Oscar a height advantage — if Matilda tried to jump up and play or yapped at Oscar and he wasn’t feeling it, he’d bat and hiss her away until she found someone (or something) else to play with.

How the two of them get along now

Nowadays, Oscar and Matilda have learned to peacefully co-exist (sort of … most of the time).

Oscar still acts like a crotchety old man and pretends he thinks Matilda is the most annoying thing on the face of the earth, but he can`t fool us — deep down, he really does care.

If Matilda seems sick or distressed in any way, Oscar rushes to her side. She once broke into a random coughing fit and in a flash, he leapt off his bed (a.k.a. her crate) and up onto the couch beside her so he could “save” her. When she got fixed and was recovering from surgery, he kept coming up to gently inspect her and make sure she was okay.

If she’s gentle, he`ll let Matilda lick the top of his head to clean him. We’ve even woken up in the middle of the night and found them snuggled up together on our bed. All in all, it’s pretty darned cute.

While I’m sure Matilda will always be like a super-annoying little sister as far as Oscar’s concerned, we know that there’s love there, and that’s wonderful.

As for Matilda? Well, she thinks Oscar is the bee’s knees. She always has — and likely always will — just want to play with him.

What about you guys? Have you ever had a dog and a cat under the same roof? Were they friends, foes or somewhere in between?

Share with us in the comments below!

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada’s all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city’s numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

Christina Peden
Christina Peden

Christina Peden is a lifelong animal lover and avid wordsmith. She lives in Toronto with her boyfriend Ryan where they are proud pet parents to puppy, Matilda and cat, Oscar. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying Toronto, Canada's all-too-short patio season, taking advantage of the city's numerous parks or curled up with a good book.

More by Christina Peden