I’ve mentioned before that my sister has two dachshunds. Instead of being named after alcohol, her dogs are named after candy bars: Snickers and Mars. (“Mars” deriving from the British “Mars Bar,” which was the name of our Great-Aunt’s favorite dachshund. I’ll talk more about her another day.)
Well it just so happens that Mars loves cats. Really, he loves anything that moves. So a few times I’ve brought Mars over to meet the alcohol cats, because one day I want a dog. But more importantly, I want to know that Smirnoff and Bacardi would be okay living with a dog.
Cats will react very differently toward other cats versus dogs. As I found out when I tried to foster a kitten, Smirnoff hates other cats with a passion. Except for Bacardi, of course, who is his best friend/minion. But when another cat enters his view, Smirnoff will hiss and growl and he will take out his unhappiness on me, on Bacardi, and anyone who crosses his path. Even when the cat is in another room. Bacardi, however, was curious about the kitten and would sit side-by-side with it.
Enter Mars. Smirnoff sits cooly, watches him, gives perhaps one small hiss if Mars gets too close, but is otherwise fine. Bacardi—my sweet, goofy Bacardi—puffs up twice his normal size and gives a loud hiss. He looks like a Halloween cat in mid scream. However, unlike Smirnoff with another cat, Bacardi directs his uneasiness only toward the dog. He still looks sweetly as I bend down to pet him, he still cries for his food as soon as I enter the kitchen. Bacardi doesn’t hate dogs. He’s just a bit afraid of them. And there were moments in time when Bacardi almost forgot he was just inches away from a scary canine.
Mars is the perfect test dog. He ignores the cats completely. He really does want to play with them and lick their faces, but with one hiss, he turns in the other direction as if nothing happened. After I let Mars onto my bed (high-stake territory), he shimmies to the end of it and Bacardi lifts himself up and whacks the dog once on the nose. (I had trimmed Bacardi’s nail that morning, so he didn’t have any weapons.) Mars responds by turning around and curling up for a nap, slightly sad that the cat doesn’t love him.
This was the third time Smirnoff and Bacardi have met Mars. By building up these positive experiences with a dog, I hope to ease their transition when the time comes to get a dog of my own. And I feel that both cats will do well! Bacardi might only ever ignore a dog he lives with. Smirnoff might become good friends with it, if he doesn’t mind sharing his toys.