How To Get A Cat And A Dog To Co-Exist Together? (Tips, Tricks, And Proper Introductions)
One of the greatest joys in life is not only having a feline furball as a pet companion, but having a kitty and a dog that live together happily under one roof.
But dogs and cats hate each other, right? Not necessarily! Canines and felines can form strong friendship bonds. The reason most cats and dogs don’t get along isn’t an inborn instinct, but rather the fact that they have to get over their jealousy and their territorial behavior while sharing the same home and the same owner.
Cats of all breeds can become dog-like loyal to their pet parents. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get attached to a domestic puppy too.
In fact, there are a number of canine breeds which are particularly suitable for co-existing with cats. Check out our article on the subject if you wish to find out more about cat-friendly dog breeds. On the other hand, there are also a variety of laid-back, tolerant feline breeds which won’t mind living with a dog.
But what really makes cats and dogs get along? Is there a fail-proof successful formula which can make these two species co-exist together in a friendly manner? Short answer: yes! Read on for the full story.
Factors for a successful cat/dog relationship
Here are the key factors on which the possible cat/dog friendship will depend:
- Proper introduction
- Ground rules
The breed and the age are the most essential aspects of forming a friendly bond between a feline furball and a canine pet. If both animals are from amicable and laid-back breeds and if both pets are youngsters, you will have a higher chance at teaching them to get along.
Setting up a few ground rules in order to avoid jealous or territorial behavior is also crucial. Patience also plays a key role in the entire deal. If you don’t have the patience to monitor the pets and help them get along, it will be harder for them to build a natural friendship on their own.
How to get a cat and a dog to co-exist together
Firstly, you need to remember that you can’t use the same training techniques on both animals. You also need to be careful when choosing the pup because guard dogs or working dogs like Huskies, Dobermans, Schnauzers, and Malamutes are ill-tempered by default. They are ready to fiercely protect their territory and their owners.
If you get a puppy and a kitten instead of their older counterparts, you’ll increase the chances of an instant friendly bond.
Another thing which is of intrinsic importance for the cat/dog co-existence is setting ground rules. This means using different feeding stations and setting up different “bedrooms” for each pet. In other words, the kitty will need to have a room of its own with all of its toys and cat furniture where the dog won’t be bothering it, and vice versa.
You must show both animals that you’re treating them as equals. This means spending equal bonding time with each pet in order to avoid a possible urge to fight over your attention.
How to introduce a cat and a dog?
The introduction part (the first impression) plays a significant role in how the two animals will behave around each other.
Don’t introduce the two pets face to face from day one! Keep them in separate rooms and allow them to roam around your home without making eye contact for a couple of days. During this period of time they will get accustomed to each other’s smell without direct interaction.
Once they are familiar with the scents, it’s time to introduce them face to face.
Place the pets in the same room, but make sure you have enough space for an escape route, as well as for restraining each pet. Get dog and cat treats and use them to praise the animals for their attempts at interacting with each other. If one of them starts acting aggressively, don’t let them make physical contact.
Try calming down both animals and proceed with physical contact only after they’ve settled down.
A common mistake many owners make is throwing some toys around. During the introduction part you shouldn’t be using the feeding stations or any toys. Otherwise the animals can get overwhelmed with distractions or start fighting over the food, the toys, and your attention. If possible, ask a friend or a relative whose scent is familiar to both pets to assist you during the introduction.
How to make sure everything goes well after the introduction
If the animals haven’t acted aggressively towards each other during the first meeting, praise them verbally, physically (petting), or with treats. Speak in a soft, praising voice. Pet and stroke them gently. Make them associate non-aggressive behavior with a positive and rewarding experience.
Don’t merge the dog and the cat’s rooms. Keep them in separate areas even if they’ve acted friendly and playful towards each other during the introduction.
Allow the pets to bond and spend time together only during supervised interaction time. Feed them separately and don’t place the litter box in the doggy’s room. Both animals will need a cozy, comfortable room to retreat to after each interaction in order to feel safe under the same roof.
Final tips and tricks
Be prepared for scent-marking. Even if both animals are seniors or youngsters, they still might try scent-marking their territory. This means creating pee puddles, rubbing against the furniture, or leaving scratch marks.
Don’t ever feed the kitty with dog food and vice versa. Canines have different nutritional requirements than their feline counterparts. Also, don’t feed the pets with table scraps. This will spoil them and could eventually make them act as rivals for food and attention.
Use different toys for each animal and purchase a couple of items, which will be shared. This way you’ll lower the chances of fighting over personal belongingsl.
If any of the pets stop using the feeding stations and the designated toilet properly, they are probably feeling scared or overwhelmed by the presence of the other animal. You can either try making a better match with different breeds or you can opt for hiring an animal behaviorist’s professional services.