This is a quick update, no more, because I don’t have much information, on an article that I wrote on 28 November 2020. At that time the public was made aware that the then President-elect, Joe Biden, and his wife Jill intended to bring to the White House two dogs and a cat. We all know about the dogs Major and Champ. We also all know about the tricky incidents regarding Major who bit a White House worker but the skin was not broken, as I remember the story. There was a follow-up incident but Jill Biden makes it clear that he is a gentle dog.
She was being interviewed by NBC’s Today show co-anchor Craig Melvin. In the interview Melvin said that, “There are these rumours that the first lady was considering a cat. Is that true?”
Jill Biden replied: “Oh yes, that’s true. He’s waiting in the wings…She, she’s waiting in the wings.”
During the conversation between Melvin and the Bidens, the President implied that the decision to bring a cat to the White House was his wife’s. He said that the decision was easy by which, I think, he meant that when his wife wants something to happen it happens and he does not have much of a say in it!
Melvin wondered whether the cat would get along with Major because of his “slightly aggressive history”. This prompted Jill Biden to explain that Major has participated in training at a shelter after the biting incidents to prepare him for the incoming cat. Apparently he did fine in the training and therefore they are confident that there will be no problems with them getting along.
Melvin did not want to meet Major even though he was offered the opportunity!
Major is back at the White House. Last September Jill Biden told Fox 5, “I’d love to get a cat. I love having animals around the house.”
Associated read: American Presidents who lived with a cat
I think it’s fantastic that President Biden and his wife Jill have a love of animals and want them around the house. It sends out a great message to the citizens of America and around the world that animals need to be respected. I would hope that they can also do something more about the international trade in animal body parts and live wild animals. This is meant to be controlled and restricted under an international treaty called CITES but it appears to be almost unenforced and it is certainly abused. I would like the new President to put pressure on those countries who abuse this treaty in the interests of animal welfare.
The best way to ensure that a dog gets along with a cat is to raise them together both as family members. If that doesn’t happen naturally then both dogs and cats should be raised by the breeder with the opposite species because this socialises them to these animals. Dogs in particular need to relate to cats not as prey to be chased but as “associates” to be friendly with and to enjoy the company of.
According to one expert, Liz Palika, it can take 2-3 weeks for a dog and a cat to become acquainted. But it can take longer and sometimes it does not work out. The key, really, is to ensure, as mentioned, that the dog is socialised to cats. We don’t know if Champ is socialised to cat but I suspect that he is. I suspect, too, that the shelter training of Major concerns belated socialisation to cats.
The personality of the cat and dog are important obviously so an aggressive dog won’t get along with a timid cat. I think that is the point being made. There needs to be a personality match. And of course the cat needs to have a space to go to and a place to hide in as she gradually becomes acquainted to her new dog associate.
Jackson Galaxy in his book Total Cat Mojo advises that both the cat and dog should sniff the other’s bedding to get acquainted to their scent before they meet up. And of course the first meeting should be controlled carefully. When they get along is looks great.
CAT VERSUS DOG: