It is no big secret that cats and dogs don’t always get along. A dog might be man’s best friend, but when it comes to its feline counterpart, it is less inclined to play nice.
Natural enemies may be an exaggeration, but these two species may see the other as a potential predator or prey, making it difficult for them to be in close proximity to one another. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t get along and many households can attest to this with their pet cat and dog harmoniously interacting, or at least staying out of each other’s way.
In this article, we will explore some of the ways to help your cat and dog live together by becoming better acquainted.
Before their first meet and greet it is a good idea to give your dog some obedience training on how to control its impulses. Dogs instinctively chase after cats and other smaller animals such as rabbits, so training your dog will teach it to curb this kind of behavior towards your cat.
By training your dog to respond to basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘leave it’, and ‘no’ you can begin introducing it to your cat knowing it will not behave in an impulsive or threatening manner towards your cat. These simple behaviors are essential for a well-behaved pet and disciplining your dog in this way is also an important part of cultivating a healthy relationship and allowing it the freedom to be more independent.
Allow supervised interactions in the first few weeks by keeping your dog on a leash until you feel confident your two pets can play safely.
Give Your Cat Space
The behavior of cats and dogs is one of the major differences that sets them apart. Understanding your cat’s individual habits and behavior will help you to integrate it with your dog in a comfortable manner.
Every cat needs a safe and comfortable place where it can retreat to feel secure. It is important to prepare a safe space where your cat can feel protected and flee to if it feels threatened by your dog. This spot should be a refuge that is solely for your cat, so should be somewhere that is off-limits to your canine companion. Higher places such as bookshelves, on top of closets, or on window ledges are ideal safe spots for your cat.
This will allow your cat to feel confident in moving through its territory and sharing its space with your dog.
Unlike humans who rely primarily on sight, cats and dogs use scent and sight to navigate and assess their environment. One of the ways to help them get along together is by allowing your pets to recognize and become accustomed to each other’s scents before introducing them properly.
This can be done by swapping their beds, blankets, or toys so they will become familiar with the other’s scent or by leaving a towel next to your dog that has your cat’s scent on it and vice versa. By doing this, you can help curb any curiosity between your pets which may turn nasty when they first meet.
The key to a successful cat and dog relationship is to try to match the personality of both your animals. For example, if you already have a dog that is energetic, playful and curious, bringing home a timid and languid cat that prefers its own space and company may prove problematic.
Where possible, try to pair your animals according to their personalities and energy levels to ensure the highest chance of a harmonious connection.
Generally speaking, the younger you begin teaching a pet how to behave around other animals, the easier it will be. Raising puppies and kittens together will often be the best time for them to comfortably get to know each other and build a true friendship. By learning to be around each other from a very young age kittens and puppies will learn to not only tolerate each other but may also play together, and even take naps together.
If you already have an adult cat or dog, consider bringing home a kitten or a puppy instead of an older animal. Grown-up cats and dogs tend to be more accepting of the other species when they are young. However, be aware that the size difference between the animals may mean that one is accidentally hurt by the other.
Desensitization involves safely exposing your dog to your cat gradually by allowing both animals to acclimate to each other and also allows the opportunity to change any aggressive or unwanted behaviors.
Dogs often get excited or aggressive when they see a cat causing the cat to feel nervous or fearful. Through gradual exposure of your pets to one another in a controlled manner, you can help your cat to become comfortable with your dog in a way that will not elicit a fearful response.
To help your pets adjust to the other’s presence, start by introducing them to each other in stages. Begin desensitization by keeping your cat and dog separate from each other with a baby gate. This way they can sniff and see each other from a safe distance without any risk of injury or harm occurring. By occasionally diverting your dog’s attention onto playing with a toy, receiving a treat, or practicing a command it will begin to lose interest in the cat and is less likely to overreact when it sees it the next time.
A great way to familiarize your pets with one another is by feeding their meals together but at a safe distance, for example, on opposite sides of a baby gate. Offering their meals at this time makes it easier for them to ignore each other as food provides a great distraction from the other.
Earthborn Holistic Primitive Naturals are a healthy and holistic option when it comes to pet food for both your cat and dog. In addition, your animals may come to associate one another with meal times, through the power of positive association, increasing the likelihood of them getting along together.
By putting these seven tips into practice you can pave the way for a successful partnership between your two pets.