The stereotyping of dogs and cats being mortal enemies stems from their differences in temperaments and characteristics. Cats are usually aloof and independent. Meanwhile, dogs are sociable and rambunctious.
Both animals can display territorial behaviour, and the existing four-legged resident may feel threatened and become defensive upon the arrival of another creature.
To be able to successfully share the same space, owners play a big role. When cats and dogs are raised together in a positive and loving home, they can tolerate each other and even learn to be friends.
Tips to Help Cats and Dogs Get Along
Socialising the cats and the dogs whilst they are young are easier than introducing them as adults. There is no one-size-fits-all approach on how to get dogs and cats to get along because each situation is unique. However, here are some general tips that you can try whilst making the transition:
- Make the necessary preparations. Before getting a dog or cat, consider the behaviour of the resident pet and determine how it will respond to a newcomer.
- If you have a cat, ask a friend to visit with his/her dog. Ignore the canine and see how the cat reacts, making sure it has an escape route.
- If you have a dog, notice how it reacts when it sees another animal outside. Does it show curiosity, fear, or aggression? Is it uninterested? Consider these clues if an additional pet would be okay.
- If you either have a docile and calm cat or a gentle and well-mannered dog, your chances of having a smooth transition when introducing a new pet into the household are good.
- Be patient and give the cat and dog some space and time as this transition does not happen overnight. First, the newbie must be placed in a closed room and the resident can have the rest of the house in the first two weeks. Pet number 1 should have the advantage so it would not feel neglected or threatened.
- Before an actual face-to-face introduction, allow them to sniff at each other’s things like beddings and toys. After a few days, let the animals discover each other between the closed door. If they show a calm and neutral behaviour, reward each of them with praises and treats. If there is a sign of aggression, anxiety, or overexcitement, remove the animal/s in the situation and divert its attention.
- As soon as both are comfortable, they can be allowed to see each other. Instal a baby or pet gate in the room where the new pet is staying. Ask another person to help you so each pet is directly supervised. Whilst the two are from a safe distance, calmly open the door with the gate closed without feeling excited or nervous as animals could sense emotions. If the pet shows negative conduct, remove it from the situation and cause a diversion. Repeat this practice a few times a day and move on to the next step when you feel like both pets are comfortable in seeing each other.
- Allow each other to approach the gate with both the cat and dog on a leash. If the cat is not comfortable, remove the leash and stay very close to it. You should not allow the animals to touch each other yet. Again, provide rewards for calm and neutral behaviour and remove the animals when there are negative reactions.
- The final step is to remove the barrier and allow both animals to be in the same room together, with supervision. Since the cat has a higher risk of being injured, the dog must remain on a leash. This can be challenging if you can’t stop the dog from pulling. Keep the exercise brief and continue giving rewards and/or removing the animals depending on their behaviours. Slowly increase the time of the sessions, allowing the two to be a little closer every time. This final stage may take time, and whilst it is tempting, never leave the two unattended. When they are left alone, they should always be separated.
The outcome of all your efforts is dependent on the actual cat and dog, which is highly reliant on their disposition. In some instances, they will learn to tolerate each other and even become friends. However, there may be cases when the two can never be left alone together. No matter how hard humans try, there are just times when cats and dogs could not get along, so prepare for a lifetime of supervision. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from expert trainers as they can assist in making the transition easier for you.
Regardless of the result, make sure your cat has a safe and dog-free spot to give it the space it needs. Its food, water, and litter tray should be situated in a place that is off limits to the dog. Likewise, the dog must be properly trained and always be provided with plenty of exercise so it does not have a lot of energy to burn inside the home.
If your existing dog or cat at home is frail and old as well as nervous or uneasy, think twice before getting another pet because it may just be too stressful for the existing pet and the entire household.
Whilst all dogs are different, there are breeds that generally get along with cats no matter their size. Here are the breeds that tend to get along with cats:
- Basset hound
- Bichon frise
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
- Shetland sheepdog
- Boston terrier
- Yorkshire terrier
You may like to read:
- How Pets Influence Our Relationships
- Pets Are Beneficial to Your Kid (Says Research): 5 Best Pets for Kids
- The 5 Times Pets Proved They’re Good for Our Health
- Calls for More Flexible Housing Policies to Allow Pets