Can dogs and cats live in peace and harmony under one roof? Of course, but it takes a bit of doing on the part of the human involved.
Introduction – Cat to Dog
Bringing a cat into a household where a dog already lives is a scary thing for the cat. Here’s a new environment, new people and this big, hairy non-cat to deal with too. Slow introductions are in order – no cat wants a cold dog nose on his behind!
Give the cat a space to himself to start. His food, water and litter box will be there and a nice bed to relax on. Keep the door closed. The dog will be curious and sniff at the door and the cat will stay safe. Pet the dog a lot a lot and then go into the cat’s room and let him sniff your hands. When leaving the cat, pet a lot and let the dog sniff. They will recognize the familiar scent by the time they meet in person.
After the cat is settled in, put a baby gate up in the doorway. Keep it about three or four inches off the floor. The dog and cat will be able to see each other without direct contact. It also keeps the dog out of the cat’s food and litter box and provides the cat with an escape route if the dog gets too frisky once they meet.
When the dog is outside, let the cat come out to explore the rest of the house at his own pace.
Introduction – Dog to Cat
Bringing a dog into a cat household will upset the cat – he didn’t ask for this! A grown dog will be anxious to please. Take the opportunity to teach him “Mine” and “Yours” so he knows what he can play with and what is off limits. The cat is “Mine”. Toys are “Yours”.
Puppies are eager to explore and have so few boundaries; you have to establish the rules right away. Keep the puppy on leash in the house, tethered to you by attaching the leash to a belt loop or putting it around your waist. The cat can approach, stay out of range and know the puppy can’t pounce on him. This keeps the puppy out of trouble, helps with potty training and saves the cat’s sanity.
Some dogs have high prey drive – if the cat runs, they will chase, not just for the fun of the chase, but to catch the cat. Breeds include sight hounds like Borzoi, Greyhound, and Saluki. Terriers are bred to catch and kill vermin like gophers, moles, rats and badgers. They dig to find their prey and with a quick shake, kill it. Terriers can get along with cats but contact should be supervised until they are well acquainted.
Keep in mind, many dogs get along well with their own house cats but will chase and hurt outdoor cats.
Our member Lee Juslin describes her experience with cats and terriers. “I have Scottish Terriers and cats, usually not a good mix as terriers have a high prey drive. However, the bond that developed between my male Scottie, Celtie, and my Scottish Fold, Onslo, was something to cherish.
Celtie was nine; Onslo was a kitten. Onslo loved Celtie at first sight. When Celtie was at the water bowl, Onslo would race over and push his little head in to drink, even if he got splashed. When Celtie ate, Onslo would hang on his tail or try to squeeze his much smaller head into the bowl.
Celtie showed tremendous patience with the little pest. The only time they were separated was when Celtie went outside – Onslo sat in the window and meowed.
Scotties don’t jump so we had steps to allow Celtie to get onto the bed. Cats are great jumpers, but Onslo always used those steps after his idol showed him how.
Sometimes I’d see Onslo race the length of the house and jump into his litter box. I discovered when he was playing with Celtie he did not want to take time out so he’d wait until the last possible minute.”
With thought about the ages of the dog and cat involved, the breed and temperament, and thoughtful introductions, dogs and cats can not only co-exist but also become best friends.
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