We all know the stereotype.
The dog chases the cat, ready to make kitty its next meal. Or the cat tries everything to torment or outwit an innocent dog.
These stereotypes are usually found in old cartoons, but the belief that dogs and cats can’t get along is prevalent among many pet owners. Because of this, some pet owners who like both cats and dogs believe that they have to make a choice when they head to the shelter.
I’m here to tell you that’s wrong! You can own both a canine and a feline, and you can have them around each other. They don’t even have to be enemies who tolerate each other, but instead best friends!
Why Cats and Dogs are Considered Enemies
Before I tell you why you can have a cat and dog under the same roof, let’s figure out why the two are stereotypically shown as enemies. Like some stereotypes, this belief does have some truth behind it. Cats and dogs can show animosity towards each other if not trained properly.
Sometimes, it’s just because of a miscommunication. Your dog likes to play with other animals by chasing. The dog thinks chasing a cat is all fun and games, but the cat thinks it’s about to be eaten! Usually, that’s not the case (although dogs do have prey drive from when their ancestors had to chase and eat small things to survive.) If your dog’s a herding breed, it may instinctively chase a cat because it believes its job is to herd kitty like she’s a sheep!
Your cat, thinking the big dog is out to kill her, will become fearful of the lovable scamp, and could end up hurting herself while being chased.
Meanwhile, a cat plays in a different way. It may paw at or pounce on the dog. If the dog’s trying to sleep, or is fearful of sudden movements, it may become scared, or attack back if it thinks it’s in danger.
Dogs Prone to Chasing Cats (And Vice Versa)
Not all dogs are created equal. Some dog breeds are cat friendly, while some dog breeds tend to chase cats. Dogs built for hunting, such as hounds and terriers may not be so cat friendly. That isn’t to say it’s impossible for them to get along with cats, but if you own a dog of that breed and want to bring a cat into the family, you may want to think twice (or at least prepare for a strict and potentially long training process).
Meanwhile, dog breeds that are cat friendly tend to be smaller types. This does make sense; a small cat will be less intimidated by a dog that’s its size, while the dog won’t be scared of something that can’t crawl under its legs. Pomeranians, chihuahuas and pugs are just a few great cat-friendly breeds. Some bigger breeds work nicely as well, like the classic Golden Retriever.
How To Safely Introduce Your Dog And Cat
This isn’t saying that cats and dogs can’t be friends; instead, I’m explaining the reason why cats and dogs tend to be seen as enemies. If you’re bringing a dog and a cat together, you need to do it carefully, and introduce your pets slowly enough so they become best friends.
In other words, don’t let the cat and dog meet each other the second you bring one of them home. Instead, put them in separate rooms, and alternate rooms each day. This will allow the animals to get used to each other’s scent, since both animals rely on smell. After a few days, it’s time to introduce cat and dog. Put them in a room they’re comfortable with, and supervise them as they check each other out.
If your dog and cat love each other, great! If not, you may want to keep them separate for a little while longer and try again. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is for the two to get along if you do it right.
Even if they get along, a cat and dog are bound to get into fights. Just like two siblings, even the ones who get along most of the time will have their occasional spat. So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
- Reward your pets whenever their behavior is good. Give them a treat for being calm together.
- Separate your pets the moment they show signs of tension – get familiar with dog body language and cat body language. Your aim is to avoid allowing fights to happen, and you can do this by keeping your animals apart before violence can occur.
- If a fight does break out, stop it immediately. Fights can lead to fatal injuries, so using a loud noise or a blast of water might be necessary to immediately end the squabble. Use these techniques sparingly. While they are not part of positive behavior management, and can make fear and aggression worse, they may be the only way to prevent a death.
- Usually, the cat is in more danger. As such, allow the cat a safe place to escape by sectioning off your house with baby gates and installing shelves that the cat can climb on when needed.
- Keep introductions slow and gradual. Do not force your animals to spend time together – just encourage them to stay calm in the same room.
Soon, your cat and dog will be getting along again and sharing everything. But before I go, here’s another important tip:
Keep Your Cat and Dog Food Separate
Cats need more meat, while dogs are more omnivorous. As such, their foods tend to meet different nutritional needs. A dog eating a meaty cat dish may cause it to gain weight, while a cat eating dog kibble could cause it to choke, and it may become malnourished! Schedule different feeding times, and make sure the cat is fed in a place where the dog can’t reach. If the dog eats the cat’s food (and vice versa) on occasion, it’s no big deal, but don’t make it a habit.
Enjoy Being a Cat and Dog Parent!
As long as you follow these rules, your cat and dog are likely to be best friends. Once they’re together, make sure to take lots of funny pictures and videos of the two’s antics. Some of the funniest animal videos tend to be of dogs and cats, so let’s see what you can do! Show the world that cats and dogs, contrary to old belief, can get along.