You probably know the saying “Like cats and dogs,” which means a relationship based on hatred. However, does it really have to be like that between these pets? Can’t a cat and a dog be friends? YES, THEY CAN! However, it is essential to remember that every animal is different and has an individual nature, which will primarily determine their relationship. Introducing a new pet to the house, you can help them get to know each other and make the presence of “the other” as comfortable as possible. So can a dog and a cat get along?
Age of the Animals
Age plays a vital role in familiarizing both individuals. Adolescent animals are the easiest to get acquainted with. A young kitten and puppy will accept an individual of another breed much faster. Growing up together gives a good chance that the animals will become friends.
The matter is more complicated when you introduce an adult pet (dog or cat) into a house where you already have an adult pet. Each of these pets already has specific experiences and habits. A cat, who hasn’t met a dog all their life, may simply be afraid of them. A dog that hasn’t learned to live with cats may instinctively chase them.
For this reason, it is a good idea to test the reaction to an individual of a different breed by, for example, introducing a dog or cat from a friend on neutral ground. However, it is crucial to take care of the comfort of both animals and make sure that they do not hurt each other in case of conflict.
Before introducing a kitten into your home, it’s a good idea to familiarize your pet with the scent of the future resident. For example, if possible, you can bring the cat’s blanket for the dog to get used to the smell. Both pets must have the opportunity to get acquainted with the new scent.
Suppose you’ve already brought home a cat. In that case, it’s worth first isolating them in another room, so they can peacefully get familiar with their new surroundings. A change of location is already stressful for a new household member, so it’s a good idea to give them time to get acquainted without the additional stress of a curious dog. Then, when the dog is on a walk, you can let the cat out to explore the rest of the house.
The next step could be to introduce the pets to each other in a controlled way. You can do it by putting the cat in a carrier and letting them sniff each other or simply keeping an eye on the dog while the cat explores the house. If you see that the dog reacts in a friendly way to the kitten, you can gradually allow them to come into direct contact with each other.
Remember to familiarize the pets in small steps and in a fully controlled environment. You should carefully observe the reaction of the animals and adjust the pace of familiarization to their behavior. Bad beginnings can damage the relationship for a long time.
Additionally, make sure to teach the resident dog basic commands such as “Stop,” “Leave it,” “No,” etc., well before the arrival of a new household member.
Every time the dog behaves appropriately near the cat, praise and reward them for his good behavior. By doing so, they will learn that the presence of a cat entails something pleasant.
It can be challenging for an older cat to accept a pushy puppy who often makes a lot of noise and fuss. A curious puppy may not respect the boundaries of an adult cat. For this reason, the introduction should take place in small steps.
Make sure to start with an exchange of scents between the two pets. Next, you should allow the resident cat to hide or climb high when they do not wish to interact with the dog. On the other hand, the puppy should be watched and taught commands involving giving up the chase from an early age.
It would help if you never took your cat by force and put them next to your dog. It should be up to your pet to decide whether or not your cat wants to approach the dog. Otherwise, it may result in the cat scratching the pup out of fear.
It’s also a good idea to reward your cat in the presence of your dog so that they know that something positive is happening in their company. You can also play with them while the puppy is nearby. Try to play with both pets at the same time in each other’s company. However, you should constantly observe their behavior. It can be helpful to have a second person to take care of the other pet if necessary. If you see that the puppy behaves too intrusively towards the cat, remember to stop it.
Every pet is different, so familiarization can sometimes take a day or even several months. There is no one proven method of introducing pets to each other. The most important thing is to observe both of your pets and be patient.
When you have a resident at home, whether a dog or a cat, you should make it as comfortable as possible. When adopting a new pet, you want the best for them. Still, you can’t forget about the existing pet because the appearance of a “stranger” on their territory can be very stressful for them. This is when your support is essential and shows them that nothing terrible is happening.
Remember that a dog and a cat DO NOT HAVE TO be friends. Not every animal will make a great connection with another individual, just as we humans do not make friends with every person we meet. The most important thing is for the animals to tolerate each other and feel comfortable in their home. Don’t force them to love each other, sleep with each other, and play together. So can a dog and a cat get along? Yes, as long as it is their choice.