10 Ways to Help your Dog and Cat Become BFFs
by John Devlin
Cats and dogs don’t get along, right! The truth is; both natural predators they would prefer to avoid each other if possible but with more people than ever having multi-pet households what can we do to help these long-time enemies live in harmony.
The best way for dogs and cats to get along is by introducing them at a young age puppies and kittens under one year of age are more open and accepting of new situations and can pick up on body language more easily plus they will both be keener to play rather than fight. It is a good idea to let your young puppy or kitten meet other species at this time even if you don’t intend them to live together so they will not regard them as enemies in the future.
Prepare your home
If you are bringing a new dog or cat into your home which already has a pet it is essential to prepare a safe place for the cat to feel relaxed keep them in different rooms to start with perhaps separated by a baby gate so they can see each other and get used to one another’s scent without confrontation and always provide somewhere high for your cat to escape too, like a scratching post or cat tree, if things become too overwhelming for her. Cat food and litter trays can be attractive to dogs so it’s a good idea to feed your cat separately and keep the litter tray out of Fido’s reach.
Introduce them slowly
Do not bring a new kitten or puppy into the home and forcefully introduce them by holding the cat close to the dog, not only will this be a frightening experience for the kitty but you are likely to end up with arms full of scratches. Take it slow, let them get used to each other with a safety gate or crate separating them initially and if this is successful let them approach each other at their own pace with the dog preferably on a lead to start with, just in case the cat flees and he decides to give chase.
If you are adopting a new dog it is vital you know his background to be sure he can live and interact with cats without incident before introducing him in to your home and remember a cat’s natural instinct is to run if she feels threatened some breeds like Sighthounds and Terriers have an extremely high prey drive and are not the best choice for a multi-pet household unless socialized from an early age. Some breeds which are known to be good with cats include Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cavapoos and Havanese. Cats tend to tolerate smaller dogs better as they are not so intimidated by size but some large breeds can also be gentle with kitties and these include Golden Retrievers and the Newfoundland. The same is true if you are adopting a cat, if they have been attacked by a dog in the past they may never be able to live with another canine.
Exercise the dog before introduction
A tired dog will not react to a situation the same as one which is full of energy, before introducing the two make sure your pooch has been on a long walk, that way he will be more relaxed and accepting of the situation. A dog which is full of beans will just get over-excited and will make the cat more fearful. Remember any negative incidents at the beginning of their relationship will just make the process longer so do everything you can to make these initial introductions go smoothly.
While cats are not the easiest animal to train it is possible and of course you should be training your dog from an early age, words like “leave it” “come” “sit” and “no” are useful commands and if your pooch will respond instantly so much the better. Dogs can generally do more damage to a cat so it is important to keep kitty safe at all times but on the other hand, do not let your puss beat up the dog either.
Use positive reinforcement
It is important to use positive reinforcement for both species once they are showing calm relaxed behavior give them a reward when the cat walks into the room where the dog is, say “here is kitty” reward the dog and vice versa this will give them a positive association with the other. Animals get jealous too, so it is vital to treat them equally don’t lavish affection on one while the other is present, it could lead to resentment.
Let the cat approach in its own time
Cats are naturally cautious creatures and do not do well when forced into situations they are unsure of, it may be a case that your two pets will tolerate each other but never be close buddies and if so it is important to accept this. Don’t try to speed things up by constantly pushing them together. Leaving them to establish their own boundaries is more likely to see them living in harmony together and sometime in the future you may be lucky and find them enjoying a nap together.
Separate them when not at home
Like us humans, even if your four-legged friends become good pals they will not necessarily get on 24/7 especially in the beginning, so it is essential to keep them apart when you are not there to prevent unwanted scuffles and potential tragedy. A cat will attack a dog when backed into a corner and most dogs will react which could result in a fight and if you are not there to intervene the consequences can be dire.
Watch out for signs of strife, if your cat is constantly hiding, a young puppy or kitten is always annoying an older animal, or your dog is exhibiting stressful behaviors like constantly licking his paws or panting excessively, there may be an underlying issue. It is essential to look out for signs that the two may not be getting on as well as you think so you can work on making them both happy.
So, there you have it dogs and cats can get along and live together in perfect harmony but it takes time and patience, depending on the animals age, personality and breed they may be able to live together peacefully but it is also important to remember that some will never get along and you may have to resign yourself to living in a one species home. That being said, if you are successful, cats and dogs can become good friends and some develop an extremely strong bond, so good luck and let’s hope your pets don’t end up fighting like …. well you know!
Owner – Dogsbarn.com
Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!
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