The animal mythology has cats and dogs being natural enemies, but the truth is that millions of dogs and cats live together amicably in homes all over the world. Getting canines and felines to cohabit comfortably is much easier if both are younger when they are brought together, but it’s still possible to get them to share family space if you help them to make the adjustment slowly.
Assess Your Pets Honestly
Don’t think that the dogs and cats will automatically accept each other as members of the household. Some dogs have a very strong predator instinct and could be aggressive toward a cat brought into the home. Similarly, some cats have a deep distrust of all dogs and will be hostile to any attempt by the dog to make friends. Before bringing a new animal into the home, ensure that your pets have personalities that can eventually accept another species.
Keep the two species separated for the first few days. You can rotate one animal into the larger home area, while keeping the other confined in another room. Allow them to sniff the area where the other animal has been to get them used to the scent. Continue this arrangement while the new cat becomes accustomed to the sounds, movements and tempo of the household.
Make the Introductions Carefully
When bringing a cat into a home with dogs, have the dogs on leash and allow the cat to sniff around the room, putting it in a separate area as soon as the dogs become agitated or boisterous. Gradually, have the animals in the same room for longer periods of time, with dogs on leash and allowing them to leave the area when it becomes overstimulated. If after trying a period of adjustment, the animals cannot get along, talk to a veterinarian about professional behavioral specialists that may be able to help.
Getting Comfortable Together
Generally, people find that making sure the cats able to escape to a quiet area of the home can provide enough peace and quiet to keep all parties happy. A pet gate across a bedroom doorway is a helpful option. This allows the two animals to see each other, but prevents interaction before they are ready. Keep the dogs and cat separated when you are away from home, until you are absolutely sure that they have accepted each other’s presence in the household. This measure prevents unsupervised interactions that could be hazardous for one or the other.
It’s not unusual for dogs and cats to be devoted companions to each other. However, this companionship develops over time, and as a responsible pet owner, it’s your duty to make sure that both pets are kept safe until they become familiar with the sights, smells and behaviors of the other animal.