When you think of cats and dogs, you might remember the phrase “fighting like cats and dogs.”
However, while some canines and felines may have a disagreement now and then, most cats and dogs can get along just fine with one another.
As a result, more pet parents have multi-pet households that include both dogs and cats. But to make sure all four-legged family members get along with one another, a number of important steps need to be taken along the way.
Consider Their Personalities
If you want as little initial conflict as possible, it’s always a good idea to consider the personalities of not only the pet that is already in the household but the one you are considering adopting as well.
For example, if you have a cat that is very shy or nervous, it may be best to consider adopting a dog with a very laid-back outlook on life. Likewise, if you have an older dog in the household, it may work best to introduce a cat that is close in age, since both will probably have the same energy level.
Give the New Arrival its Own Room
Whether you bring home a new dog or cat, give the new arrival its own room for the first several days. By doing so, your new four-legged family member can begin adjusting to his new surroundings without having other animals in his face from the moment he arrives.
Make sure the new arrival has all of the things he needs to be comfortable in this new room since it won’t be leaving the room much, if at all.
At this point, the best way to make a “first introduction” is actually through scent.
Rub each animal with a clean towel or blanket, and then place the scented towel in the opposite animals’ room.
Scent is one of the major ways dogs and cats orient themselves with their surroundings, and it will help to alleviate the initial tension of living with the other animal.
Eventually, you can make an almost-face-to-face introduction. Put a baby gate in front of the door to the private room. Then, you can open the door and allow each animal to see each other quite clearly, but with a barrier safely between them, keeping them both from having a fit!
Supervise Initial Introductions
After enough time has passed and you feel as if everyone is ready for a true face-to-face meeting, remember a few important details.
First, always keep your dog on a leash during the initial meeting, which will prevent any unanticipated chases or fights from breaking out.
Have the introduction in an area big enough to let the cat roam freely, which will help ease its anxiety.
Finally, make sure the room has some tables, shelves, or other items the cat can jump up on if it wishes. By doing this, your kitty will know it has an escape route if needed.
Bribery Works Wonders
To help the getting-to-know-one-another process be a success, never discount the benefits of bribery!
By this, we mean a few well-placed treats here and there between your dog and cat will often have each pet viewing the other in a totally different light. By offering treats when good behavior is displayed, having favorite toys available for each to play with, and offering a few kind words and pets on the head for a job well done, your dog and cat will likely live happily ever after.
Just remember not to give your dog treats to distract her if she’s pulling at the leash and trying to get too close to you cat.
If you provide a treat when your dog is pulling at the leash or acting aggressively (even if it’s an attitude born out of curiosity and not maliciousness), you are training her to be excited and jumpy around your cat.
This is definitely not the message you want to send!
Instead of giving treats to distract your dog, give treats when she is calm and sitting when in the same room as your cat.
Perhaps more than anything, be as patient as possible with both of your pets. Like humans, it often takes time for animals to learn about one another and be comfortable enough to interact in a safe and relaxed manner.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by going into the process with unrealistic expectations.
While there may be instances where a dog and cat will become instant best friends, in most cases it takes several weeks for your feline and canine to become completely comfortable with one another. But with some patience and understanding, you’ll soon have some very happy furry family members.
Rather than be hesitant about creating a multi-pet household, take the plunge and introduce a dog and cat to one another! When you do, you’ll not only give another animal a loving home but also provide your family with even more love and joy.