We’ve all heard the term “fighting like cats and dogs” but does it have to be that way? Can cats and dogs live together in harmony? You bet! Here are some ways you can make cohabiting and even introductions the best they can be.
The More The Merrier!
Having a home with more than one animal can be good for everyone because it means more companionship for you and for your pets! Pets that interact more frequently with other cats and dogs can use those interactions as an opportunity to learn better socialization, which can help your pet be more comfortable and less fearful of new acquaintances or experiences!
An extra pal isn’t only good for your pets, it’s also good for you and your family! The National Institutes of Health states that children raised in multi-pet households are less likely to develop common allergic conditions to things like animals, grass, ragweed and dust mites. Pet ownership has been linked to several other health and social benefits; extra exercise promotes a healthier body and mind, having animals around can reduce stress and pets can teach children responsibility. If your home has more than one child, having more than one pet can help reduce competition for attention from your cat or dog!
Before They Meet:
Ideally, you’d want to raise dogs and cats side-by-side so they never know life without each other, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. If you are bringing a new family member home, it can be tricky for everyone to adjust.
Think About Your Pets’ Personalities:
It’s a myth that some dog and cat breeds simply cannot get along with members of another species, but it is important to consider your pets’ personalities before bringing someone new into the family. For example: if you have an elderly cat, a rambunctious puppy might be harder for them to cope with.
Also, consider their previous living situations. If your new dog has never met a cat or vice versa, it may take more time for everyone to feel comfortable.
Training Is Important:
Cats are much smaller than most dogs. Imagine having to share a house with something 5x your size. This is one of the reasons that training your pup so they don’t spook your cat is so important. Cats can be skittish and it is best to train your dog not to lunge or bark at a jumpy kitty.
Tire Out Your Pup:
Even the calmest dog might find a new feline friend exciting. Whether you’re bringing home a new cat or a new dog, it’s best to let your pup use up some of their energy so they don’t overwhelm your cat with an energetic greeting.
Give Your Cat Space:
If you’re bringing a new dog into your cat’s space or a new cat into your dog’s space, you should provide your cat with a dog-free zone they can go to if the introduction feels like too much. Have a room or a closet where your cat can go to relax. If your whole house used to be your cat’s domain, a new puppy might be a huge adjustment, and if your cat is new to the family, a whole new home plus a new dog friend might be too much all at once.
Share Their Smells:
You should never force your pets to hang out. But you can, however, slowly introduce the idea by letting your pets smell each other. That is, let your pets smell each other’s beds or toys to familiarize themselves with one another.
It’s finally time for your furry friends to meet.
Secure Your Dog:
Even the best dogs sometimes get excited about cats, and even the most chill cats sometimes get frightened by dogs. One way to eliminate too much jumping or unexpected behaviour from your dog is to keep them on a leash for the initial introductions.
Give Your Cat (or Dog) a Place to Hide:
Do not leave your pets in a closed room for their introductions. Let your pets hide or run away if they are feeling scared. Sometimes friendships take time and you can’t force it. The best you can do is make sure everyone feels safe.
Let Each Animal Have Their Own Territory:
Having a space that each animal can claim as their own could alleviate any territorial feelings. Your animals may not have a problem sharing your home, but you should allow them to explore and claim a space that feels right.
Let Your Pets Do Some Things in Peace:
Let your pets have a space for eating and doing their business where they don’t feel vulnerable at all. If your dog eats in the kitchen, let the cat have their own room to eat. Keep your cat’s litter box somewhere the dog doesn’t go.
This tip is really two tips in one – Avoid your dog snacking on your cat’s food (or litter) by keeping those things separated from your pup.
Toys for Everyone!:
If your dog has toys to chase and your cat has a scratching post, they may be less likely to chase and scratch each other. Give them an outlet for any energy that might otherwise be used to be confrontational.
Your animals may never be best friends but with these tips, you can help everyone feel safe and happy in their shared home. You love your animals, they love you and you can help them love each other.