Cats and Dogs, Living Together: An Update

Spice looking at Charlie this morning.

One always wonders, when one brings a new dog into a house full of cats, how the cats are going to handle the intrusion of a big, dimwitted extrovert of an animal that is a dog, particularly when it’s still a puppy and thus full of puppy energy. In our case, the answer is: All right, but the adjustment period is definitely still taking some time.

Charlie, of course, is game: She very much wants to be friends with the cats, and has done all the things dogs do when they want to be friends, including the front paw dive, the presentation of toys, and the full body “come on let’s play!” dance. This freaks out the cats a bit, because what they see is a larger animal making a lot of sudden, unpredictable moves, and they don’t like that. In more quiet moments, they will approach Charlie and even do a nose boop or two, but most of the time the cats are exuding a real “dude, what even are you” vibe, and Charlie is sad about it. She’s doing her best, you know?

Interestingly, the cat who seems to be the most willing to work with Charlie is Spice, who lets Charlie get reasonably close and sniff her up, so long as there is a human nearby. I wouldn’t say she’s super-friendly with Charlie, but of all the cats she’s the one who seems to recognize that the dog is not just an intruder but will be part of the household moving forward. Zeus is not thrilled, and Sugar actively avoids Charlie entirely.

As for Smudge, well, he appears to be having a minor existential crisis about Charlie, I think possibly because he’s used to being the major agent of chaos in the house, and then all of a sudden here’s a dog, a puppy no less, which not just chaos but big friendly chaos. It’s a lot for him to take in, apparently.

Obviously I want them all to get along, but at this point, that’s on the cats’ schedules, not ours. It will happen inevitably. In the meantime, we’ve declared the basement a Charlie-free zone, so the cats can go there to avoid the dog if they like, and indeed they do. The still miss us, however, so they do sneak up to the rest of the house. Spice is sitting on my desk as I type this, for example, pawing me occasionally to remind me to pet her.

Again, it will all be fine once everyone gets used to each other, and it does help that Charlie wants to be friends with the cats rather than feeling territorial about the house. She gets they were here first. But I’m looking forward to the first time a cat snuggles up with her. It might take a bit. But I think we’ll get there.

— JS

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