Despite popular (mis)conceptions, they can live together in harmony.
I’ve had dogs and cats for the better part of 35 years. Most would consider many of them incompatible, such as wolf hybrids and feral cats, or pit bulls and kittens. I’ve even successfully combined a home with birds and cats. That’s why I’m so easily riled when someone says cats and dogs don’t get along.
I have many different animals and while some get along, others do not. I have one cat who cannot get along with any species, including human. I have two dogs who think two of our cats run the home, while the other felines are considered fair game. My point is, every animal is different and you will not know how any will get along until you give it a try. There are many things you can do to create a happy, multi-species home.
First impressions are critically important with animals. One of the worst things you can do is “let the animals work it out.” This will more often than not result in a hefty veterinarian bill or other tragedy. It’s not safe for your pets, your family or you.
Instead, focus on slowly introducing the new cat or dog into the house by keeping them confined in a room. Give your pets plenty of opportunity to interact with sight, sound, smells. This initial introduction may go on for hours or days. In many cases, your pets will let you know when they’re ready to meet the new arrival. It’s up to you to give them plenty of time and opportunity to create their territories and boundaries.
Using pheromone-based products can be very helpful in allowing pets to adjust. Adaptil, DAP, Feliway and ComfortZone are excellent ways to diffuse a situation as they can help calm your pets.
Take it Slowly
Eventually, your pets need to learn to get along and that means getting to know one another during supervised, controlled visits. There was a time when I would never introduce a cat to a dog without the safety of a leash on one or both parties. However, I then learned about leash aggression. Not all dogs become more aggressive on a leash, but it’s up to you to know your pet.
Whichever way you choose to restrain the parties involved, be sure you always have control over the dog. In most cases, the dog will be larger than the cat and will be more inclined to chase her. The cat, on the other hand, should always have a safe place to escape.
Pet gates are one of the best options tools during the introduction phase. A pet gate can ensure your cat has a means of escape and will slow down a dog should something happen. Tunnel toys, wall shelves and cat trees might also be beneficial, depending on your home situation.
I’m sure there are people you don’t get along with and I’m equally sure you have your reasons for not enjoying their company. Animals are the same way and there are just some pets who will never get along as friends, but it doesn’t mean they can’t have a working relationship.
Don’t try to force your pets to become friends. Your job is to provide a safe environment where all parties are equally cared for, and to also provide the tools for your pets to become friends. This might include supervised visits, separation when you’re unable to be on site and/or something as simple as pheromones or toys.
Let’s face it – relationships are hard no matter what the species. Give your pets a safe place to work out their differences and a valid escape route in the event one or the other requires it, and you’ll find that having a harmonious household is not such a distant dream after all.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is a fulltime freelance writer, bestselling author and founder of PetsWeekly.com. She resides in the deserts of the Southwest with a few dogs, several cats and a very understanding husband.