You may be asking yourself Can Cats and Dogs Live Together? Seeing photos of cats and dogs cuddling together always gives a warm harmonious feeling. Two different species coexisting in harmony lifts the heart and fills it with hope.
Indeed, it is possible for cats and dogs to live together in the same household. However before you bring another pet into your pet home, there are some things that you must consider.
The chances are that it will take time and careful introductions before the cat and dog can even be in the same room together.
When we brought our husky into our home, it was 2 years before our cat and dog were able to be in the same room happily together. Our cat is a short-haired domestic cat. I’ve written an article Do Huskies and Cats get Along?
Careful Consideration Before Introducing A New Pet
Before you decide to bring a dog into a home with a cat or a cat into a home with a dog, you need to consider the temperament of the animal you already have.
We have a domestic short-haired cat and a husky. We had the cat first and managed to introduce the husky when she was a puppy. It is possible but there are planning and training involved. We would never have been able to bring a dog into our home when our old cat was alive. He was far too timid and it would have been too much for him.
If you already have a cat
- Will the cat be able to tolerate a dog in the home?
- Is it a confident cat who will stand its ground and not let the dog harass it?
- Do you have a timid cat who may decide that it’s not safe in its home anymore?
If you already have a dog
- Do you think it will be able to live with a cat without chasing it or thinking that it’s the prey?
- Is it a calm dog or an excitable dog?
- Does your dog have a strong prey drive?
- Do you have time to put in the training required to ensure that the dog knows the cat is part of the family and not a toy or prey?
Not only that, but you will also need to consider if your home can accommodate both species. Will they both have a ‘safe’ area that they can retreat to when they need time away from the other?
First Introductions of The New Pet
If you think that your pet will be happy to share its home with another pet of a different species then it is time to think about the introductions. How you introduce your pets is very important.
If at all possible, it is a good idea to get the scent of the new pet before you bring it home.
In our case, we visited the pup and took a washcloth with us. We wiped the washcloth over our girl to get her scent on it. Once home we wiped her scent on the doors, stairs, and skirting boards around our home so that our cat would smell it and become familiar with the scent.
For our pup, we took a blanket that had all our scents on it, human and feline, so that she could become familiar with them.
Before bringing home the other pet, it is also a good idea to get your home ready. Make sure each pet has an area that the other can’t get to. And decide where each of them will eat, drink and sleep.
We put a cat-flap into our daughter’s bedroom, as our cat already enjoyed sleeping in their room. This is his safe space.
Bringing your new Pet Home
When you finally bring home your other pet, it is a good idea to have the dog on-lead and hold the cat. This is definitely easier if there are 2 of you to do the initial introductions.
Allow them to see each other under very close supervision, and if it’s safe to do so then they could also have a sniff of each other. A few minutes is usually enough on the first introduction. They should definitely not be left unsupervised to just get on with it. Not only could the dog really hurt the cat, but the cat could scratch the dog’s eye.
The introductions will take time, it won’t be a one-off introduction and that’s it you know each other now. They will have to have regular controlled introductions spending a bit more time with each introduction.
Allow the dog to see you petting your cat, and allow your cat to see you petting your dog. This will have to be repeated each time, showing them that they are both members of your household. When things start to move along and they are both a bit more comfortable, let each of them see you giving the other treats.
Even now when we give our cat treats our dog sits and waits for her treats and vice versa.
Training for your pets
Whether you are bringing a puppy home or you already have a dog and you are bringing a cat home, the dog will need training. It will need to learn to be calm around the cat and not chase it. This will take time, especially if it’s a puppy.
Cats move quickly and this can kick start the dogs prey drive. The dog isn’t being naughty, it’s just their nature. Training can help. There will be setbacks, which is why a dog and cat should never be left unsupervised where the cat has no route for escape.
Positive reinforcement training is definitely the best. Aversive training methods could back-fire massively if you want your dog to be calm around your cat. Using aversive training methods could lead your dog to associate the cat’s presence with something unpleasant. You don’t want your dog to redirect its negative feelings towards your cat.
This is where positive reinforcement training will really help. When the dog is calm around the cat it gets a treat. If you consistently reward your dog for being calm around your cat, the dog will associate the calmness and the cat as something good.
We brought a husky pup home. Huskies have a strong prey drive, so we knew that we had to knuckle down on the training right away.
We started with focus training. Every time she responded to her name she got a treat. Then it was sitting and then down. Next, we brought in the cat and got her to focus on us, rewarding every time she was calm. We built it up over time.
Happy Homes Still Need Supervision With Pets
Once you have your dog and cat settled, tolerating, or even enjoying each other’s company, it is still not a good idea to leave them unsupervised in an area where the cat cannot get away.
No matter how well trained your dog is, it’s prey drive can still activate unexpectantly. Or your cat can get fed up with the dog’s attention and scratch causing damage to the eyes.
Always make sure that there is somewhere that your cat can go to get away from your dog. No-one wants stressed or hurt pets, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Even if Pickles decides to have a nap on Luna’s bed and Luna is on our bed, they are never left alone.
I hope this article has helped you decide if your home is ready for a dog and a cat.
Before you go, you may find these articles interesting: