No, cats and dogs are not enemies, but they are also not naturally friends. You really cannot say how they will get along until you actually let them meet. But there are certainly a few things you can do to make this transition as smooth as possible. Here are a few tips for training your cat and dog to get along.
Look for Personality, Not Breed:
The popular belief is that certain breeds of cats and dogs get along. Well, this is not always true. At times, breeds known to get along do not get along in your case because of their personalities. It is their personalities you should focus on. If you have an aggressive or territorial dog, then getting a cat is not a great idea. If the two personalities do not match, you need a plan to keep them separate for as long as they can be around each other.
Train the Dog:
To ensure that your cat and dog succeed in staying together, you need to train your dog first to control its impulses. Especially if it is a large breed, then it may unintentionally harm the cat on their impulse. Does your dog leap as soon as a piece of food falls on the floor or gets jumping when there is a toy nearby? Then it is probably not the right time to introduce your cat and dog. First, let your dog control its impulse before you even let them be near each other independently. Till then, keep it on a leash so that you can control sudden moves when around the cat.
Assign a Territory for Your Cat:
Cats need their own space in the house, which the dog cannot access. Putting up a cat tree is a brilliant idea, as it will always be off-limits to the dog. You can add a dog gate as well to prevent the dog from entering the area. You need to keep the dog away from the litter box, too, as cats need to feel safe while doing their business. Also, you do not want your dog to snack on cat feces, making the dog sick. If possible, install tall shelves, bookcases, and other furniture so that the cat can safely cover the distance without touching the floor and observe the dog as well.
Exercise Your Dog:
To make sure your dog is calm around the cat, you need to burn all its energy. You need to exercise your dog well. We are talking about long walks, play, and mental exercise such as a puzzle feeder, etc. When your dog is already tired, he will be calm around the cat and not be anxious. An anxious dog is not something you want to have around your other pet. If you cannot walk your dog much, you can hire a dog walker also to do the same. Play fetch with your dog that exhausts them really fast.
Let Them Sniff Each Other Stuffs First:
It is a smart idea to first let the dog sniff the cat’s toys and vice versa before face-to-face introduction. This will make them curious, and they will get the idea that there is another animal around to save them from complete shock.
Plan the First Meet Carefully:
The first meet of the cat and dog is crucial as they make the first impression on each other. Let them first see each other from the other side of the room with a closed-door in between so that they can smell each other but not see each other. Make sure to keep food on each side to associate each other with the happy smell of food.
Take the help of another family member so that one person can be in charge of each animal. Do this every mealtime for several weeks till they are comfortable with the smell. Next, you should be prepared with treats before letting them visually see each other. The idea is to break the ice really slowly to have no negative association with the entire process. Remember to keep the dog on a leash till you are confident it is safe to take it off.
Socialize Them at a Young Age:
As the animals become adults, they get used to a certain environment. As puppy and kitten, they will be more friendly and accepting, hence introduce them when young. Also, if you have a cat, get a pup at home as they are less confident and automatically consider the cat at a higher hierarchy level, which ensures your cat’s safety.
Keep their Things Separate:
You should never mix your pet’s things to prevent any competition or fight for toys. Also, as the pets chew on their toys, you do not want the other pet to share the same toy to avoid spreading infection from one pet to another. For example, dogs are prone to get infected by Parvovirus if not taken extreme care of at a young age, and in rare cases, your cat can get parvo from dogs direct or indirect contact.
Feed Them in Separate Areas:
Dogs are foodies, as you already know, so they can eat everything in their vicinity. Feeding your cat and dog together may cause conflict as your dog may try to eat your cat’s food too. Feed your cat separately where the dog cannot reach so that your cat can have a peaceful meal. The same goes with your dog, as dogs are also food protective. Schedule mealtime for pets and place separate bowls for them in different parts of the house. You can place your cat’s bowl on top of the table where the dog cannot reach to avoid conflicts.
The Bottom Line- Share Your Love Equally:
As a pet owner, you should ensure to give both animals equal attention. If one feels he is being ignored, then the animal may feel jealous. Especially dogs are attached to humans more; hence, you cannot ignore your dog at all. Be really affectionate with your dog. Dogs and cats need different sorts of attention. Cats are independent and not as clingy as dogs; hence, make a conscious decision on how you plan to spend time with each animal.