There are dog people, there are cat people, and there are significant numbers of people who love both dogs and cats. If you fall into the latter category, you should be able to demonstrate that with proper planning and training you can keep dogs and cats safe under one roof.
The harmonious home
Some dogs and cats become good friends and enjoy each other’s company. More realistically, many dogs and cats that share the same place of residence learn to tolerate each other.
If your household includes dogs and cats, your goal is a harmonious home where no one species feels threatened or bullied by the other. A harmonious home is not created overnight, but can be achieved with most cats and dogs.
For best results, adopt or acquire a puppy or kitten around the same time. Dogs and cats that share a household before their first birthday usually adapt with the fewest problems.
Ideally, introduce a puppy and kitten at 16 weeks of age. This is the high time of socialization for these youngsters. They explore and learn the world and are often happy to make a new little friend.
Animals brought together as adults can still do well. When adopting a cat or dog, look for a cat with a history that coexists with the other species. A calm adult dog is likely a better choice to join a household that already has a cat than a high-energy dog.
The right breed
High-prey dogs pose a greater threat to cats than those who do not have a strong instinct to hunt and capture prey. Some breeds of dogs to avoid when planning to have a cat at home include:
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Pit bulls
In general, terriers don’t handle cats well, as they were originally bred to kill other, smaller creatures. While there is no doubt that individual dogs of high prey breeds can get along with cats, they are the exception.
Other dog breeds usually do pretty well in cats. These include:
- Bichon friezes
- Golden retriever
The American Kennel Club recommends dogs from the toy group as cat companions and dogs from the sports group. Toys, as the name suggests, are bred to be loving lap dogs. Most are the same size or smaller than the average cat. The sports group includes spaniels, retrievers, and setters. These good-natured dogs like to please and make friends, and their sociability makes them potential cat friends.
Herding group dogs, like the various types of collies, may get along with cats, but their herding instinct can make a cat’s life difficult. While the term “herding cats” refers to attempts to control the uncontrollable, it won’t stop a determined Border Collie or similar breed.
How to introduce your cat to your dog or vice versa
You may want to keep the animals separate for the first few days so they can get used to each other’s smell. Place towels, sheets, or blankets that will be used by the other pet in the areas where each animal is.
When the first meeting happens, keep the pets in the same room, but keep the dog on a leash and let go of the cat. Kitty sets the tone.
Keep calm and let them check each other out without getting too close. Wait for them to ignore each other and then disconnect again. This is a process that you may have to repeat for several days until they show little interest in the other.
Even if they seem to get along, don’t leave them unattended for at least a month. You have to make sure that neither hurts the other. For your peace of mind, you may want to separate them whenever nobody is home for much of the day.
What to consider when adding a cat to your dog household, or vice versa?
If you already have a dog and want to add a cat, make sure your dog has basic obedience training. He has to know and follow terms like “let it” when annoying Kitty.
Clawed cats will defend themselves, and that could mean patting a dog in the eye. Keep Kitty’s nails clipped to minimize possible damage.
Food can quickly lead to conflict. So make sure that Fido and Fluffy are always fed separately.
Give your cat a lot of privacy when it comes to the litter box. Not only do most dogs love litter box debris excessively, but even if they cannot get into the litter box, their presence near the litter box can intimidate cats. Having a dog in the home can cause a cat to inappropriately drop out of the euphemism. However, sometimes this is due to a lack of loneliness in running this business.
Make sure that each pet has their own safe space in which to get away from each other.
patience is a virtue
Depending on the pets involved, a dog and cat can learn to tolerate each other instantly, or the process can take weeks. Sometimes a dog and a cat are really incompatible and you may need to accommodate the newer arrival. However, most will at some point accept each other’s presence without a fuss. You instinctively know when harmony will be achieved in the home.
Featured image: Spiderplay / Getty Images
Read on: How to Introduce a New Baby to Your Cat