Dogs and Cats Living Together – Top Ten Tips
The relationship between cats and dogs is often considered fraught, with numerous pet owners presuming that dogs and cats cannot live together. Contrary to this however, many cats and dogs across the country live quite happily together, with relationships that range from the pair respectfully ignoring each other, through to being actual companions. You should not force a good relationship between a cat and a dog, but the two can happily co-exist with a little guidance and perseverance.
It is important to ensure that when you bring a new pet into your home, you introduce them to your “pack” carefully. Allow your new cat or dog to settle into its new environment first, and introduce the animals to each other very gradually. When looking for a new pet, it is also important, if at all possible, that you get a pet that is already well socialised with other cats and dogs. Try to introduce the different species to each other at an early age if possible, and if you are adopting an older pet, make sure it has had experience living with other animals.
Top Ten Tips
- Introduce the animals gradually and do not force them to interact. It can be very effective to simply let the dog and the cat occupy the same space initially. Keep the dog on a lead if necessary, and reward both animals at the end of each successful introducing session.
- Ensure your dog is obedient before introducing a new cat. If your dog does not know basic commands such as “Sit” and “Stay”, you will find it difficult to control him should any problems occur.
- Give each pet a separate bed in common areas, and a separate place to sleep at night.
- Do not tolerate any aggressive behaviour. Curb bad behaviour from either animal with a firm “No” command.
- Create a dog free zone somewhere in your home. This could be a single room, or the entire upstairs of your house. It is important that the cat knows there is an area inside the home where it can feel safe. This method also offers both animals the opportunity to be separate from each other when necessary.
- Give both pets equal attention when possible. Do not favour the new pet.
- Ensure each animal eats separately. Ideally the cat should eat in a place entirely out of reach of the dog.
- If you cat has a litter box, keep it in a room which is only accessible to the cat.
- If you are uncertain of how your dog/cat will react to a new pet around the house, try socialising them with a friend or neighbour’s pet. If you have a cat, ask a friend with a well-behaved dog to drop by, and if you have a dog, visit someone who owns a calm and well-socialised cat. Monitor your pet throughout the socialisation and keep all dogs well controlled or on a lead.
- Be patient. The process of acclimatising your cat and dog to each other’s company may take up to six months. Given time and the right provisions however, most dogs and cats can learn to live together fairly harmoniously.