There’s a reason why the age-old adage to “fight like cat and dog” is such a well-established and popular turn of phrase. After all, feline and Fido have been culturally immortalised on the silver screen as sworn enemies – from Garfield and Odie, to Cats & Dogs and The Secret Life of Pets.
So what are the historical causes for the quarrel? In evolutionary terms, dogs are descendants of wolves, who would travel and hunt in packs, whereas cats were creatures of solitude. Which is where the competition comes in, as both carnivores would fight for food.
However, the historical roots don’t mean that cat and canine can’t live under the same roof.
As the most popular pets in the UK, and with over 1.9 million UK households’ home to both a cat and a dog*, it’s important that our felines and Fidos can share a friendship and live together in peace. They just need a little assistance from their pet parents.
Getting this balance right can be tricky, which is why sustainable cat litter brand, Natusan, has put together five top tips to help your canine and cat live together in harmony.
Rachel Andre, CEO of Natusan, who provide the UK’s first cat litter zero-waste circular economy service says; “Within the past year, the pandemic has prompted a real boom in pets being brought home and introduced as part of the family.
“Meaning more new pets are being welcomed into households where there may already be other animals. Which is why we need to be mindful of how we support them in building bonds.
“With sustainability at the heart of Natusan, we look to not only help the environment but to also create happy home environments for our animals, from offering our 100% natural, biodegradable and compostable clumping cat litter, to putting together a helpful guide to help cats and canines live in harmony at home.”
5 ways to help your canine and cat cohabit in harmony:
Use commands to control chasing
As playful creatures, it’s very easy for dogs to get over excited and chase cats – something which stems from their evolutionary instinctive behaviour. However, this kind of unwelcome attention might not be received particularly well from a cat trying to causally mind their own business.
The good news though, is that you can look to nip this kind of boisterous behaviour in the bud through training. Taking time to teach your dog commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘down’ will lead to more control – meaning you can assist in diffusing any hairy situations at home between the two.
Create a safe space for your feline friend
As territorial creatures, cats like their own personal space. And if you also have a dog under the same roof, make sure your cat has a safe space which is out of bounds to any hounds. Look to place your cats favourite bedding or toys in the area to become their Fido-free sanctuary, where they can escape to at any time of the day.
Dr Scott Miller, TV Personality and Resident Vet for eco cat litter firm, Natusan said: “As conscious cat parents, it’s so important to ensure that your cat not only has a safe space to call their own – but that their litter box is placed in a secure place which is not easily accessible to a dog.
“This is because dogs can have a habit of ingesting cat feces, which can cause serious intestinal problems from the bacteria. The dangers of which can lead to health complications, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and anaemia. It’s also always recommendable to use a natural, tight clumping cat litter like Natusan which is ultra-absorbent and clumps together the contents of the litter box.”
Utilise the power of scent
The power of scent is not to be sniffed at when it comes to our animals. As a way to help cats and dogs not only recognise each other – but get used to one another – allow them to smell each other’s belongings. For example, take their bedding and switch it round, so that they indulge their curiosity and familiarise themselves with their house-mates scent.
Find common ground and schedule meeting times
It can take longer than you think for cats to get along with dogs, so be patient in the process. A good way to begin building the relationship is to plan meetings for your moggy and mutt to be together under supervision – and with a lead on hand. This way, you can keep an eye on them, and they will both feel the security of your presence.
Start their meetings at mealtimes. Something which cats and canines both have in common is their mutual love of food. Look to introduce a baby gate or a barrier between them as they eat though, as this will help to avoid conflict – yet they will still be able to smell one another close by. This way, they will begin associating mealtime (something they love) with the smell of each other. Although, make sure their mutual meal together is on a common ground. Don’t introduce dinner time for both of them in one of their sacred safe spaces.
Loosen the reins and let them play
Once the boundaries have been set, look to loosen the reigns a little and allow them to try their hand at playing together, as it can really help to create and cement a bond. This is because playing is an important way for pets to show alliances.
This has to be done under careful supervision though, so you can make sure it’s all clean fun, and be aware that both animals must be willing to take part in playing together.