So your home is filled with cats, and you’re to grace your place with a dog. Good for you! You’re breaking the stereotype that dogs and cats can’t get along. If you raise your pets right, your dog and cat can be the best of friends!
But as you know, adding a new member to the pet family, regardless of species, can cause some upsets, especially if you’re bringing home a new kind of animal.
To ease this transition, here are a few ideas you can try out whenever you’re bringing home a pup (or a kitten.)
1. Make Sure Your Dog Naturally Gets Along with Cats
Some dogs go great with cats. Others… not so much. Dog breeds come from many parts of the world, and have been raised for different purposes.
Hunting and fighting dogs may have a natural instinct to be rough and aggressive towards a cat, and may not be a good fit for a cat-filled home. Dogs the size of cats, like the Pomeranian, work well with cats. Bigger, friendly dogs, such as the Golden Retriever are also a good fit for cats.
Look at the dog you own, or the dog you want to bring home, and see if the two would get along.
2. A Cat in its Peak of Socialisation Can be Helpful
A cat has a socialisation period, usually from about 2-9 weeks of age, and if it’s exposed to a dog around that time, the chance of it being more sociable does increase.
If your cat is around that age, introduce it to a dog. If you’re adopting an older cat, check out its history, and see if it’s been exposed to dogs. An older cat can still get along with dogs, but a younger one increases the likelihood.
3. Introduce Them Slowly
Don’t put your dog and the cat in the same room, and expect them to get along right away. Instead, make slow introductions.
Put your dog and cat in separate rooms, and switch the cat and dog every day so they can get used to each other’s scent. Another good idea is to keep them separate through a gate. This way, the dog and cat can check each other out, but there can’t be any fighting if they’re apart.
Once you think Fido and Fluffy are ready for a proper introduction, keep them leashed and allow them to play together. Supervise them at all times until you think the two of them can be together without being under the eye of the pet owner.
4. Feed Them Separately
Feeding time is important for any pet, but you should never put the dog bowl next to the cat’s bowl, and absolutely never fill both at the same time. Schedule different feeding times, and keep the bowls in different spots.
Why? First, you don’t want your dog and cat fighting over food. It can cause some unneeded drama. Not only that, but cats and dogs shouldn’t be eating each other’s food anyway. Dog food lacks some essential nutrients that cats require, and cat food does not cater to dogs’ needs.
5. Give Them Equal Attention
Cats and dogs can get jealous. For some, this doesn’t sound all that surprising, but jealously can end up starting fights between dog and cat.
Think of your pets as children (oh, who am I kidding? You already do!). Children need equal attention, and so do dogs and cats.
Giving your pets equal attention, however, can be tricky. Look at your cat and dog’s needs. Is your cat antisocial, or does it desire attention? Is your pup filled with energy, or is it an old dog who loves to sleep? Are both craving your attention?
It can be hard balancing your pets’ needs, but try to do it the best you can. Schedule separate playtimes, and don’t forget to give your pets plenty of exercise.
6. Put Kitty’s Litter Box Away from the Dog
A cat’s pooping ritual is sacred. Its ancestors buried their faeces because it marked their territory, and kept them hidden from predators. Cats have nothing to worry about nowadays, but they still get stressed if anyone messes with their litter box.
A dog may get into the litter box, dig up their faeces, and sometimes, they may even eat it! Not only is this messy and gross, but your cat will be stressed whenever it sees its litter box being ransacked.
To avoid this, put the litter box in a place the dog can’t reach. A small, enclosed space may work, or a high place your cat can jump to but not your dog. Don’t leave the litter box lying out in the open for your dog to destroy.
7. Trim Your Cat’s Claws
Cats can play rough sometimes. If your cat has long, sharp claws, it may accidentally hurt the dog, thus starting a fight that shouldn’t happen.
What can you do about this? The best solution is to trim your cat’s claws so they don’t hurt the dog as much. While you should never, ever, ever declaw your cat, a trim every once in a while is perfectly acceptable.
8. Provide a Safe Space
Your cat and dog may get into spats sometimes. Just like how an arguing couple or siblings may go to their separate rooms to cool down, your cat and dog may have to stay apart for a bit before they want to see each other again.
The best way is to create a spot for the cat that your dog can’t reach. Put the essentials in the room, including toys and a litter box, and make sure the dog can’t stick its nose in the spot.
Cats and dogs can be great companions, but it’s your responsibility to make sure the household is equally comfortable for both. Keep these considerations in mind before you adopt a new species, and you’ll be just fine.