It’s a common misconception that dogs and cats can’t live under the same roof harmoniously. Some pet owners have even avoided adding a cat to their family because they assumed their cat and dog would…well… “fight like cats and dogs.” But by being patient and properly introducing them, your pets – whatever their species! – can become lifelong friends.
If you’re soon to become a cat-and-dog household, here are 10 tips to help you start their relationship off right:
1. When you bring your pet home for the first time, have the right mindset. Don’t get discouraged if your pets don’t become the best of friends over night. It’s important to realize that they’ll most likely need some time to get to know each other.
2. Let your pets become familiar with each other’s scents before they meet for the first time. Put your cat’s blanket (or any object that’s been in contact with your cat) near your dog for a day or two, and vice versa. When they meet face-to-face, there will at least be a familiar scent between the two.
3. When you first introduce your pets, your cat should be at your dog’s eye level.
4. Keep your dog on her leash when she’s meeting your cat for the first time. As with all our friends in the animal kingdom, it’s hard to tell how your pets will react when they see each other for the first time. Always play it safe!
5. Keep a firm (and loving) grip on your pets as they meet. This will help make them feel comfortable and secure.
6. It’s possible for some posturing to take place when they first meet, and they may make a lot of noise at each other. This is normal. If things start getting too aggressive, separate them into different areas of the house. Patience is key! They may not take to each other at the first attempt, so don’t get discouraged too fast.
7. After they meet, make sure it’s easy for your cat to get away from your dog whenever she feels stressed or threatened. Providing a small cat door she can easily escape through is one example. In fact, allowing each pet to have a location to call her own will be helpful for when they just want to retreat and get away from it all.
8. Your pets should feel relaxed while eating. To prevent them from feeling defensive against the other with their food, let them eat in separate places at first.
9. Let your dog hang out with another family member in a separate room for a half hour or so to give your cat a chance to safely explore your home by herself. You may want to do this daily, until both pets are familiar and happy with each other.
10. It’s crucial to praise your dog when she exhibits good behavior with your cat (i.e., when she doesn’t bark or chase her.) Consistently rewarding her with a treat will go a long way!
Have you successfully trained your cat and dog to love each other? We’d like to hear from you! What techniques worked well for you? What didn’t work so well? Let us know in the Replies section below!