You’re a cat person. Your partner is a dog person. Or vice-versa. Or maybe you are just a person who loves all creatures. Dogs and cats cannot live in peace in the same household — or can they? The good news for you is that yes, they can! Millions of households across the country have four-legged family members of different species living together in harmony.
It’s not to say that there wasn’t some work involved in many of these homes! While some dogs and cats just naturally get along, others have to be taught to coexist peacefully and safely. If you have chosen to share your life with a dog and a cat — or multiples of each — we have some tips that will help you ensure your house is as peaceful as possible for all who inhabit it.
Proper Introductions Matter
One of the first mistakes that pet guardians make when introducing a cat and dog is to let them loose and allow them to sort it out for themselves. First impressions matter! Introductions really do set the stage when it comes to cross-species coexistence. They can establish an expectation the animal will carry with them — one that will be hard to break.
When introducing a cat and a dog, start with keeping them separate. The new animal should have a few days to get used to their home without having to worry about another species. It should be allowed to sniff the area where the other animal lays and sleeps, as well, while the other animal is away. Both dogs and cats communicate via smell, so getting them used to each other’s scents can go a long way towards a proper introduction.
The Animal Humane Society recommends feeding the two on either side of a closed door. “The idea is to teach them to associate the presence of the other pet with pleasant things, such as food. With each feeding, move their food bowls a little closer to the closed door. Continue this process until each pet can eat calmly right next to the door.”
Next, give them a chance to meet in person under safe, controlled conditions. Keep the cat in a carrier and the dog on a leash. Begin on opposite sides of the room and bring them together slowly. You could also allow a cat to explore around a kenneled dog so long as the dog remains calm. Allow the animals to smell each other and get acquainted. If one animal becomes stressed, end the meeting.
The best time to introduce them to each other is after they have eaten and everyone is relaxed. Gradually increase the time your pets spend together until they can be let loose and supervised without fear of injury.
Privacy Matters, Too
All pets in your house should have somewhere to call their own. For a dog, this may mean a crate with a favorite blanket. For a cat, it could mean a perch high on the wall. Don’t let the animals intrude on the safe space of the other.
Speaking of privacy, let’s talk litter boxes for a moment. Your cat’s litter box should be both private and safe — don’t put it somewhere the dog has access to.
Remember that many pet conflicts can arise during mealtime. Dogs can especially be prone to getting territorial around food, even if they are calm in all other situations. Definitely keep feeding areas separate and inaccessible to the other pet, especially at first. If food can lead to issues, aim to feed pets on a schedule and remove all food after feeding time rather than leaving free access to food.
Scent Is A Powerful Tool
Many suggest that using scent is a great way to let your pets get to know each other without forcing face-to-face contact. The non-profit PAWS suggests rubbing a hand towel over your cat’s head and place that towel near your dog’s food bowl or bed. Rub another hand towel over your dog’s head and body and place it near your cat’s bowl or bed. This allows your animals to become familiar with each other without any stress.
Avoid Opposite Personalities
If you are choosing to bring home a new addition, consider the personality of the pet already living in the home. An outgoing puppy is going to make fast friends with an outgoing kitten. A senior cat may be happier with a more mellow canine.
There is definitely the possibility that certain personalities can clash or take years to get used to one another. Keep this in mind when selecting your new friend.
Plan An Escape Route
Make sure that your cat always has an escape route. Even the most well-behaved dog can give in to temptation now and again and chase their feline friend. A pet door installed on a door that is typically closed is often a great solution. A baby gate with a pet door is another option. If you have a cat that likes to get up and away from danger, a series of wall shelves or a floor-to-ceiling cat tower can provide escape when needed. These spaces also give the cat the opportunity to observe the dog and get used to their presence while still feeling like they have control over the situation.
Keep The Leash Handy
Don’t be afraid to put your pup on a leash in the house. If your dog is feeling a bit rambunctious and is looking at the cat like a fun chase toy, clip the leash on for some training reinforcement. While it could be comical to have a human chasing a dog that is chasing a cat, it’s probably not the safest idea. When you have your dog on a leash, you can distract him more easily and encourage positive behaviors.
Time Out For Kitty
It’s not always your pooch that will need to be gotten under control. Sometimes kittens and cats can get a bit out of control. When your cat refuses to settle down, having a safe space to put them for a time out can help. Your cat’s space could be a crate or an entire room. You will need to determine how long separation is necessary before your dog and cat can respect each other again.
Greenlin — The Peaceful Pet Resort
We know that life can get busy and your pet may need a place to stay. We also know that sometimes pets need a bit of extra training. No matter what you need, we have the solution. The fantastic team at Greenlin Pet Resorts is here to help life go more smoothly.
Our pet boarding solutions for dogs and cats provide separate areas so that each can live in peace. Dogs can enjoy playtime at our dog daycare, and cats can also enjoy their own activities and stimulation during their cat boarding stay. There’s even dog training to help you and your pup learn commands and behaviors to help keep the peace at home.
You could call us fanatics when it comes to the care and safety of pets. Nearly all of us have pets, and we pride ourselves on treating yours like our own. We invite you to reach out to any one of our five locations to find out more about the services we offer. From daycare to training, we are ready to welcome your pet to the Greenlin family today!