Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sharing a Household with Cats and Dogs! Mona of 3PeepsDesigns

I know a lot of people think that cats and dogs cannot get along, but from my experience, they often enjoy one another. We have three cats and two dogs. One cat is Buffy, she is 10 years old and is sort of like the mom. With a single look she can straighten up both the dogs and the other two cats. The other two cats are just over a year old; we adopted them a few months after our beloved Mojo, teen cat extraordinaire, passed away from a heart attack.

(Charlie and Mojo - November 2009)

The house is really rather calm for having two kids and all of these animals. I think it’s because Buffy does a good job at keeping the two dogs in line and the kids are doing a good job of cat training the youngsters. And Charlie, my dog, is sensitive to everyone and is just a natural caregiver. Apple, our other dog, used to be a bit hyper with cats, but she is mellowing out with age. She no longer tries to chase the cats every day, but don’t get me wrong, she still has her days where either I have to scold her for chasing the youngsters or Buffy smacks her and stops her in her tracks.

One of the younger cats, Dixie, has turned into a bully and Charlie has learned not to trust her, but he’ll still sit there and let her do almost anything to him. He will have fear in his eyes and sit perfectly still. I know he counts on me to stop the cat before she does anything mean (she likes to bite the dogs on their chest or on their ears) and so I do my best to pay attention when she has them in her sights.  Apple normally doesn’t care if Dixie is trying to be mean, she thinks it’s playful and will just slap Dixie. Apple is a dog that sees the cup as half full rather than half empty – we like to say that she is terminally happy.

The other young cat, Einstein, eats dinner with us every night. Whatever meat we are having, he expects his own bowl and usually gets it. If he doesn’t get a bowl, I can toss pieces to him to eat. He can even sit right next to Charlie while I do this and Charlie always lets him have first dibs. If after the meal is over and the cat hasn’t eaten it, then I tell Charlie to clean up after Einstein and he does a good job. While I didn’t have to teach Charlie this, we do have to teach Apple. I think she is learning more from mimicking Charlie’s behavior than from our trying to teach her this. She used to smack the cat or growl in order to get the food, now she waits for about 20 seconds and then takes it if he doesn’t. I guess she just had to figure out that the cats are not dogs and they are treated differently.

Charlie used to give the cats a bath ever day when they were kittens, now, he only gives Einstein a bath every couple of days. Again, he can’t trust Dixie, so he doesn’t try with her anymore. Charlie used to give Mojo a bath every single day and when he was done, Mojo would give Charlie a bath! Of course his baths only included Charlie's ears and forehead. Apple won’t lick anyone except for herself, the food on the floor, or her “daddy” so the cats know not to expect a bath from her. Buffy will even allow Charlie to give her a quick bath, but she will not give him one.
(Charlie and Dixie when she used to be nice)

Charlie loves to share his bed with the cats. Or if one of the cats gets to his bed first, Charlie will sleep on the floor and only use a corner of the bed for a pillow. Apple doesn’t share her dog bed with any pets, but will gladly share and try to take over the “people” beds. One of the best things in the world is when I can get all of the animals to hang out with the kids and me on my bed! It really is the best feeling to know that you offer a sanctuary where these two very different animals feel relaxed enough to let their guards down with one another.

The cats and dogs learn a lot from each other, especially the younger cats and the dogs. They share toys, in fact, it's pretty much guaranteed that if you buy a dog toy, the cats are going to love it. If you buy a cat toy, the dogs are going to love it. They all love the laser pointer and that can be quite a riot when they are all chasing the red dot.
(Miss Buffy)

The cats know to hide when the dogs bark out a warning that a stranger is here. The dogs know to go find the kitties when they are crying – especially Buffy, she can almost say “mom” and does this when she is going to throw up a hair ball or finds a spider for me. Charlie has gotten pretty good at finding Dixie when she hides (one of her favorite places is in the couch - not exactly a place I am comfortable with) and can usually point us in the right direction.

The cats have done a good job at teaching Apple to eat spiders. When we moved into the house we had a large population of spiders and now we don't. She hasn't learned to hunt for them yet, but will eat them if she sees them. It's rather nice to not have to worry about that considering we live on over three acres and behind us is a large cow pasture that is only used about once a week by the cows.

There are only two problems with cats and dogs living together in this house. One is the fact that Dixie likes to sit in the water bowl (yup, really) and when she does that, none of the pets will drink from that water bowl.

The other is the fact that Apple learned from another dog to search for “treats” in the litter box and then eat them. Disgusting! So, now we have a designated cats’ room (a super large bathroom with a giant window, litter boxes, cat furniture, toys, dry food, beds, etc) with a baby gate that keeps the dogs out. And then an extra litter box in another bathroom, facing a corner so that Apple can’t get into it. We are very fortunate to have a house big enough to designate a room for the cats.
(All of the pets on my daughter's bed)

Aside from those two things, I can't really think of anything negative or stressful about sharing a house with cats and dogs. I can even feed all of the animals together in the same room at the same time – and all on the floor! I do think it helps that my cats have their own room to get away from the dogs. Even though my dogs don't have their own room, I don't think they mind because they would much rather spend every waking moment with their humans.

Submitted by Mona of 3 Peeps Designs and 3 Peeps Designs Too, her two studios on ArtFire where her skill as a bead artist can be enjoyed by all in the form of finished pieces, as well as patterns. Mona is a volunteer with the Crafting for Animals Guild on ArtFire and is participating in the special coupon promotion to raise funds for the guild's spotlight charity, Close to Home Animal Rescue in honor of National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month in October. Please check out Mona's studios and read more about the promotion and get your coupon code HERE or the box below.

Use coupon code 10CTH-CFA at participating stores to help Close to Home Animal Rescue


El at Tantalizing Stitches said...

your family is so adorable! i had problem #2 too. I even installed a baby door like you did. My dog liked the crunchy treats so much that she jumped over the door (she was about 45 lbs).

Thanks for sharing!

El at Tantalizing Stitches said...

your family is so adorable! i had problem #2 too. I even installed a baby door like you did. My dog liked the crunchy treats so much that she jumped over the door (she was about 45 lbs).

Thanks for sharing!

Pam said...

Love your story about your dogs and cats. Each one has such a unique personality, and it is wonderful how they get along (or not) and learn from each other and watch out from each other. Great blog post!

Debra at Sleepy Cat Designs said...

It's a terrific situation when a blended family of pets can get along (kinda like with humans, right?). With so many different personalities, it sounds like there is never a dull moment with the dogs and cats living together in your home! Thanks for sharing such a lovely story.

Creative Critters said...

What a wonderful zoo you have! Growing up we had cats, dogs, fish, turtles, mice, rabbits, and more, so I certainly understand what it's like to have many different animals living in one house. We were lucky that all of our animals got along too. Bill the dog and Cat Cat were best friends actually. When Bill got too old to hunt rabbits with Cat Cat she would go hunting on her own and share her catch with Bill. Animals are pretty amazing, and you can't make assumptions based on their species. I'd like to get another dog or two in the future, and I really have no worries about him fitting in with the cats.

JLynnPro said...

Growing up, we also always had blended pet families. Now, however, we have just cats, and most of them have never been around dogs, so I don't think it would be good to bring one in at this time.

We'd like to get a dog or two in the future, when we have fewer cats. Some of my cats could probalby cope with being introduced (slowly) to a dog, but most of them are too high strung.

Animals are amazing! Your home sounds like so much fun!