The “rivalry” between cats and dogs is a popular theme in cartoons and movies. But in reality, it’s largely exaggerated.
Yes, cats and dogs CAN be friends. But if you’re planning to keep both in your homes, there are a few things you should bear in mind to prevent conflict and fights.
Let’s take a look at a few basic guidelines:
If You Already Have A Dog And Are Bringing Home A Cat
1. The breed of dog is key
Some breeds are notorious for being mean to cats, chasing or even killing them. The most common breed associated with this is the Husky.
This is not to say that a Husky and cat cannot get along together well, just that they have a known history of not doing so good together.
Another tough mix is any of the “Sight-Hounds”. These are dogs that were bred to chase anything that moved and are small. The Grey Hound is an example of such breeds.
On top of this, herding breeds may consider the cat as an object of attention to herd. Terriers may also be a bit of a concern, as they are often bred to hunt and kill vermin, and they are active dogs who may torment a new cat.
2. Train Your Dog!
Make sure your dog knows the commands “LEAVE IT”, “DROP IT” and “NO”. If your dog is not familiar with these commands, it is time to begin training him or her to be responsive to them.
3. Make Sure Your Cat Is Comfortable
If possible select a cat who has been around dogs and is comfortable with them. A cat who hisses or runs will make itself into a target, a toy, something fun to chase after in the eyes of a dog.
You can often find cats or kittens from the animal shelter who were raised with dogs. If you are getting a cat from a shelter, they may know its history, and you can ask them to see how it reacts to a dog.
4. Let Your Cat Get Used To Your Home
Allow the cat to explore the house and become comfortable with it before meeting the dog. Cats should not be given full access to your house when new anyhow, but are better off confined to a small room where the litter box is to be, especially at night.
Let the cat look around on its own, then confine it to the room when it is the dogs turn to come inside. They will know each other is there, and can sniff paws under the door.
Continue to let the cat out to explore the home when the dog is not around. And when the cat is somewhat relaxed in its new home, you can allow them to meet.
Have the dog on a leash so it is fully under your control. Reward your dog with soft treats to keep its attention on you, and to stop him from getting too excited or obsessed with the cat.
5. Swap Their Belongings
While keeping them separate, you can switch their blankets and put their blanket under the other pet’s food bowl. This will encourage them associate the other pet’s scent with positive feelings.
If You Already Have A Cat And Are Bringing Home A Dog
1. Choose Your Breed Carefully
Breed selection is important. As mentioned above, some breeds are not very safe with cats, such breeds are Huskies, the “Sight Hounds”, and Terriers.
The “Soft Mouthed” breeds are generally more patient and gentle, as well any of the lower intelligence breeds, such as Shih Tzus, tend to do well with cats. Herding breeds like Border Collies will probably see your cat as something to “work”, and unless otherwise stimulated are not good choices.
2. Be Careful With Puppies
Puppies are playful and silly, and will see a cat as a toy. If you are bringing home a puppy to meet your cat, you must be careful and not allow this, because things can quickly get out of hand
As such, you may be better off adopting an older, more settled dog, and ideally one who has been around cats before and is known to get along with them. If you are getting a dog from a shelter, they may already know its history, or you can ask them to see how it reacts to a cat.
3. Keep The Dog Under Your Control
When you bring a new dog into the home, have it on a leash or in a kennel. Allow the cat to sniff it and get comfortable before slowly allowing the dog to roam around.
It is rare that a cat acts aggressive towards a dog except to establish a boundary – It is often the dog who must be kept in check. If you find your cat torments the new dog to no end, you can spray the cat with a squirt water bottle to correct its behavior.
4. Allow Them To Get Familiar With Each Other’s Scent
As mentioned above, put the cat’s blanket under the dog’s food bowl, and do the same with a blanket the dog has used. This will allow them both to become familiar with each other’s scent, while attributing it with positive thoughts.
5. Reward Them For Good Behavior
Finally, be sure to reward them both with treats for getting along. As with general pet training, treats are one of the best ways of teaching good behavior to new pets.
More Important Tips To Keep In Mind
1. Keep Their Foods Separate
Cats need to eat cat food, and dogs need to eat dog food. It will not hurt if they get a nibble of the others food every now and then, but they need to eat their own proper diets, so you must be able to feed them separately.
Dogs should have uneaten food removed half hour after feeding. However, cats need access to their dry food all the time, so the best thing you can do is to feed the cat some place it can jump to, but the dog cannot reach.
2. Keep Both Pets Under Control
Do not leave the animals loose in your house until you are completely confident there are no chances for problems.
A dog will generally not kill a cat, but it does happen sometimes. More often, they will simply hassle the cat enough to keep it angry, which can cause it to stress out and become depressed.
Never encourage either one to chase or torment the other. These are pets for you to love, not to use for your own personal entertainment.