My world of matchmaking — dogs to people, people to dogs, dogs to other animals, is another one of those places where I operate in shades of gray. When indicating whether or not a dog and cat can coexist peacefully, you not only need to know about the socialization of the dog to cats, but how the cat’s experience with dogs and temperament compare to the success.
My cat Tank, now 10 months old and at least 10 lbs. heavier than the 5 oz. he arrived weighing, is what I call an Instigator. He likes to play victim but carefully watching him shows the way he incites dogs to react and thus, in his feline thinking, get them in trouble. It still works with the kids and other people who visit, but not me.
Bubbles and Tank have become good buddies. They roll, wrestle, cuddle and have learned just the right amount of pressure their jaws can employ to avoid harm, even as Bubbles grows and gets stronger. But with Tommy the Shih Tzu, so far the wily cat has been creating dynamics where he can be safe and incite Tommy to bark and carry on. I’ve seen him do it in many different ways — from being on the other side of a door and slipping his paws under to torment Tommy (who does get into trouble until I see the source) to jumping up on a table out of reach and twitching his tail.
Creating an increasingly more reliable recall in Tommy (who is NOT food motivated but does love physical affection) helps. Having him watch the wrestle matches (see video below) is another way to learn.