Introducing any new pet to the family is an adjustment for existing members. But, with the stereotypical image of cats and dogs at war, how can you combine feline and canine in household harmony?
Despite expectations, dogs and cats can be the best of friends. They might not get along instantly, but with the right introduction and any necessary training, they could soon be relaxing together and be snuggled in front of the TV.
So, how do you ensure that your dog and cat are friends, rather than foes?
Consider your pet’s personality
Think about your existing pet. Do you have a pet that’s independent, calm and likes peace and quiet, or one that’s playful and active? You’ll need to balance your existing pet’s needs with the personality of your chosen new arrival.
If you’re bringing a new dog into the house, selecting a certain breed may give you a better chance of finding a particular personality, but breed isn’t everything.
Invest in good training
Your dog will be calmer around a cat if it’s received the appropriate training. This might be residential dog training or regular sessions.
Cats are easily startled, so you need to feel confident that your puppy – or older dog – will be able to maintain composure even in the face of a squeaky toy.
Plan a slow introduction with escape routes
You might first want to introduce your pets using scent alone. Let each sleep with a blanket, then swap them over.
After that, it’s time for face-to-face interaction. Give your cat a safe space to retreat to, if it’s not ready to interact with your dog. Don’t force anything. Both animals will work things out, given their own time and space.
It will help if your cat has somewhere high that your dog can’t reach, and has access to this at all times.
Initially, your pets will tolerate each other in small doses. They don’t have to be the best of friends immediately. Don’t rush their bonding by forcing them to be together all the time, from the moment your new arrival enters the home.
You might also want to put your cat litter box somewhere that allows your cat to access it easily, whilst keeping it off-limits for your dog. Everyone deserves their privacy!
Keep your dog under careful control until you’re sure that it can be trusted around your cat, and you should be set for an adorable companionship!