Platts: The canines vs. the felines
Cats and dogs have been known as quintessential rivals since the dawn of time. Each are an acquired taste — the chocolate vs. the vanilla, the boxers or the briefs, either the white wine or the red vintage — and us humans tend to gravitate toward one or the other.
Last week, my boyfriend and I (who blatantly and unabashedly consider ourselves dog people) tried our luck and our skills at kitten-sitting. Two close friends recently adopted a kitten and were leaving town for a couple days. Grown cats typically like, or can at least handle, being left alone for days on end. But this little guy is only three months old and in need of care. So we brought him to our place.
The kitten’s name is Socks. He’s mostly black with a white chest and four white paws. He’s rather malleable, allowing humans to pick him up when they see fit. He loves attention and gets rather persistent in his meows when he is not getting it. All in all though, he is a friendly cat that seems open to making friends and trying new things.
Until Cassius came along.
Cassius is our two-year old pup. He, too, is all black with a white chest and white paws. He weighs roughly 65 pounds and is full of energy. Cassius is a very friendly dog, perhaps to a fault. His overzealous attitude towards making new friends can often seem downright abrasive. Perhaps it’s an only-child syndrome. Maybe it has to do something with his early life on an Indian reservation in Chinle, Arizona. Either way, he’s desperate for buddies and doesn’t mind showing it. Because of this, we expected Cassius to come on a bit strong with Socks at the beginning. And he did not disappoint.
The relationship between cat and dog has been told numerous times in the media. However, perhaps the best example of this interesting yet polarizing relationship is in the movies “Homeward Bound” and “Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco”. For those of you who have never watched those movies, well, first, shame on you. Had you no proper childhood? Go rent both of them this instant. Secondly, the movies centers around two dogs and a cat that seem to keep getting lost in some fashion or another and have to find their way home. One of the main relationships in this movie is between Chance, an American bulldog, and Sassy, a Himalayan cat. They are constantly teasing and taunting one another and a big part of the reason is they just don’t see eye to eye. They do everything differently, from begging for food to cleaning themselves. Because of this, communicating is one of the most difficult things.
In the case of Cassius vs. Socks, lack of communication was a key obstacle in their friendship. When Cash wanted to play he tried to entrance the kitten by running around and barking. This only frightened Socks, leading him to hiss at the dog and attempt to claw him. When Cassius would finally get discouraged enough to take a break in his kennel, Socks would come back around, seeking out attention. Cassius would get excited and hopeful for playtime but ruin his chances by approaching the feline and trying to lick his nose. The closest we got to physical play was early one morning when we convinced the cat that the dog’s tail was worth chasing. Cassius didn’t seem to mind it either. He was grateful for any interaction he could get. Finally, out of frustration on our parts, we locked them both in a room together. Once alone, without external influences, the tensions eased slightly and the barking and the hissing came to an end. At least, for that moment.
The three days ended with the two house animals still only lukewarm to one another. Socks was happy to get back to his own house where he could roam as he pleased without a drooly, panting dog on his heels. Cassius seemed a bit lonely but content to have our full attention once again. The next play date for these two has yet to be set, but I’m sure when it happens, they will greet each other with open paws and minds…hopefully.
Barbara Platts highly recommends going to the Aspen Animal Shelter if you are considering adopting a cat or a dog…or a bird for that matter. To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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