“Fighting like cats and dogs.” The old saying has some truth behind it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Below, we discuss ways to help your cat and dog find a peaceful balance and live happily together.
Be Aware of their History
Ask whomever you are adopting from, what about any previous interaction with the opposite species. Have they had any exposure to the other species? Was it positive? Also, consider previous living conditions and breed of both animals before you decide to bring them together. If you’ve decided to take in the stray cat you’ve been feeding for the last few months, you must recognize that they are accustomed to living outdoors and seeing larger animals, like dogs, as enemies. If you’ve got a breed of dog like a terrier, it may be best to avoid cohabitation with felines. These types of breeds have a natural instinct to chase, hunt and kill what they think is prey. Knowing the history and instincts of your pet before introduction can help avoid injury and dangerous situations.
The first meeting should be controlled, relaxed and calm. Use a leash or baby gate to make sure you’ve got control over how close they get, and make sure that both are out of clawing and biting distance. Use a calm, relaxed tone of voice to reassure both animals they are safe. Do not force the animals to interact. If they seem nervous or agitated, postpone it until they are ready. The more anxiety introduced to the meeting will create stress for both of them which will affect future encounters, so follow their lead.
“Knowing the history and instincts of your pet before introduction can help avoid injury and dangerous situations.”
Have a Safe Room
Give each of your fur babies a separate space they can retreat to. Have a room for your cat to use their litter box and eat and drink away from their canine companion. Baby gates are a great way to keep a room closed off for relaxation for your cat. Always keep food separate and never feed your cat and dog together. Food has a way of bringing out the hunter in both species and can trigger territorial behavior. Keeping separate, but accessible, areas of escape for your cat can reduce anxiety and give them a place to rest and recharge, which benefits both animals.
Realize that while your intentions are noble, some cats and dogs just won’t be friends. And that’s fine. Not all humans get along, either. Make sure that you devote equal time for play, grooming and affection to both animals. Pay attention to your pet and their behavior and don’t force them into any situation they don’t like.