Introducing Cats and Dogs to Each Other – Pet tip 175
Many animal lovers adore both cats and dogs and will try to have both as pets. This leads to the subsequent common question “can cats and dogs get along” and the answer is a firm ‘maybe’. The truth is, is that some cats and dogs will get along famously while the majority will learn to tolerate one another eventually. What needs to be understood immediately is that some cats and dogs will never get along and in certain cases the combination can be deadly. Certain dogs have an instinctual predatory response that is extremely high or uncontrollable and they will chase cats, and harm them when they catch them even when they are in the same household. It is for this reason that you have to be very vigilant when you introduce cats to dogs or dogs to cats.
The safest introductions between cats and dogs are when they are young kittens and puppies being adopted and introduced to each other at the same time. This allows them the time to become socialized with one another and to bond together. It goes without saying that especially at the beginning, 100% supervision is required when the 2 pets are together. You want to especially gauge the puppy’s reaction to the cat and make sure that the puppy is not playing too roughly with the cat. If it is, the cat will likely run to a safe place in the house. Make sure your cat has a safe place it can go to relax away from the dog. If you catch puppy playing too roughly, give your puppy a firm “NO” and separate the dog from the cat. Until you are 100% sure that the puppy and the kitten can get along safely, NEVER leave the 2 of them alone together. It should also be stated that if or when the dog becomes tolerant of the family cat, it may still chase/hunt/kill other non-family cats. It really depends on the particular dog.
More often then not though, households already have an existing pet and then people get a new cat or a dog. In this case, the resident pet should be given a greater amount of consideration. After all, the resident pet’s territory is being ‘invaded’ by another species and this invasion is stressful for the resident pet. To ease this transition, the resident pet should get a chance to smell the new pet BEFORE it enters the household. This can easily be done by wiping the new pet with a towel or cloth that will absorb its smell. Then take that towel or cloth and allow the resident pet to smell it and leave it where it sleeps or hangs out. Do the exact same thing to the new pet; let it smell a towel or cloth of the resident pet before it comes to your home.
In terms of the actual first time introduction many people recommend that the pets smell each other from opposite sides of a closed door and this makes good sense. After this, let them meet face to face while the cat is in a carrier and the dog is on a leash under your control. If this goes well, open the cage and let the cat out while still holding the dog on the leash. Let them meet each other face to face but be aware of any signs of aggression especially from the dog. Use a firm “NO” and a light tug on the leash if the dog shows any signs of aggression and then separate the two. Try again later.
These are only a few basic tips and you should research this topic in depth before you get any new pet of a different species. It goes without saying that some dog breeds have much stronger predatory drives toward cats than other breeds. Many terriers are known not to get along with cats since they were originally bred to hunt down rodents and rabbits. Many sporting dogs like Weimaraners and Greyhounds are also bad with cats, as are some pit bulls. Even though particular members of these breeds may be okay with cats, they (and other breeds not mentioned here) are riskier breeds so please research this before the new pet comes home. A professional dog-trainer and your veterinarian are good sources of information if you need help with this issue. As the final note of the article, please NEVER leave these pets alone unsupervised until you are 100% sure that the dog has no predatory response toward the cat.