Cats & Dogs: Can We All Really Get Along?
That common phrase, 'fighting like cats and dogs' definitely doesn't have to be a reality. If you're a cat owner looking to add a dog to the furry family, we have a few tips on what to look for in breeds, and how to go about integrating them into your cat's abode.
Finding The Right Breed
- There are particular breeds that have been traditionally trained and used to hunt small game and vermin such as toy breeds like Miniature Pinscher's and English Toy Spaniels.
- Other toy breeds like chihuahuas can be trained to use a litter box but if you do employ this method, it's important to ensure they have separate boxes, especially since cat clumping litter can be toxic for dogs, depending on the brand and ingredients. We suggest using litter made from recycled newspaper or natural agents.
- Talking to the breeder directly when looking for a dog addition to the family, is the best method. They know the most about their litter's temperament, behavior, and attitude - especially towards other animals so feel free to ask them.
- Bringing a puppy into the family is one of the best ways to integrate a dog into your cat's lifestyle. This allows them time to adjust to them at a smaller size, making them more comfortable with them as they begin to grow up.
- Non-sporting dogs such as bulldogs and Boston terriers are normally the safest addition to a cat household. Non-sporting dogs are companions first, and are not hunters by nature like some of the other groups.
- Some larger breeds, particularly hounds are not good with cats as they have an instinctual desire to chase and have been bred and trained to chase game such as rabbits. They can be easily triggered by shifting sights, smells, and sounds which can be triggered by cats quick movements.
Personality Over Breed
- Although we have done a lot of talking about the importance of the breed of dog you decide to bring into your pet family - their personality is the strongest determinant for figuring out whether or not they'll get along with your cat or cats. Dog's don't fully belong to their breed in every way, especially if you adopt an older dog that had prior experience with a family and developed certainly character traits. If you meet a dog that is the right breed but acts territorial and or aggressive, you can image that wouldn't be the best fit for your cat.
- As cat owners we're well aware that our kittens are aloof, mysterious creatures that really don't have a 'true owner' but themselves so there isn't a lot of training involved. It's important when you add a dog into the mix that you begin training them immediately to set them up for a successful relationship with your cat.
- Training will help encourage their impulse control, and having a dog that responds to 'stay' and 'sit' makes it a lot easier when dealing with your cat.
- Make sure your cat is prepared for this new house guest as well by providing them a safe space, if they don't already have on they prefer. Make this refuge an off-limits space to the dog so your cat knows they can go there and relax, peacefully away from the dog when they're ready and know that the others area of the house are shared with the dog.
- Keeping your dog well exercised will also make them less ornery and aggressive. Receiving controlled stimulation like a walk and sitting/standing drills will help them channel their energy without wanting to get it out in other ways - like chasing your cat around the house.
Plan Their First Meeting
- So you've chosen your dog and are preparing to bring them to your home. We suggest scheduling their first meeting during meal time, considering they have a mutual love of food. Keep the dog leashed to begin with and position them on opposite sides of a room or door or doorway. Even if they can't see one another, they will smell each other and hear them eating. They'll associate this smell and sense with food, making it a good connection. You can do this several times before giving them access to another visually eating before finally moving them together into a single room or space.
- Make sure to keep their toys and food separate. Everyone can get a little touch about 'their stuff' from time to time, and pets are no different.
If you've had experience integrating a new cat or dog into your pet household, tell us about it! We love to hear from you and your own personal tips and tricks!