A common question many pet parents ask is whether it is possible for dogs and cats to coexist. Canines and felines are not known to be great friends, but they can learn to tolerate each other and, in some cases, develop a strong, loving bond.
With some careful preparation, it is possible to nurture a healthy union between cats and dogs. If you’re planning to have a cat and dog living together, these tips will help your pets share a home.
Unpacking the war between cats and dogs
You may be wondering, “Can cats and dogs live together peacefully?” One of the biggest myths we’ve adopted is that pooches and felines are mortal foes and incapable of living comfortably with each other. However, this is simply not the case. Dogs and cats can become friends and forge powerful relationships if they are properly socialized and have complementary personalities. It may just take time for dogs and cats who have never met to acclimate to each other.
Keep in mind, though, that both types of animals are territorial and have different communication methods that may impact their behavior. For example, a dog wags its tail to show happiness and eagerness to play. A cat, however, lashes its tail to indicate anger or displeasure.
The following circumstances make it most likely that a dog and a cat can live amicably under the same roof:
When both animals are raised together, especially from a young age
When rewards such as toys and treats—as well as attention and praise—are distributed equally to prevent jealousy
When each pet has personal space
How to introduce dogs and cats
Introducing a new dog to your resident cat is a delicate process that may take several weeks or months. Be patient, but realize that whether or not pets get along will depend as much on their personalities as on the steps you take. Follow these tips to maximize the chances of success:
Choose the proper location for the first meeting: If your cat is a long-term resident of the living room or kitchen, it may act territorial and take offense at another animal’s encroachment on its turf. Start with neutral ground.
Keep the animals separated initially: Across several days, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each pet plenty of time to investigate the other one’s scent.
Make face-to-face introductions: Allow both pets to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog securely leashed. Continue with this type of interaction until your cat is calm and ignores the dog, and vice versa.
Proceed with caution: Once the pets consistently get along during leashed visits, they’re ready for the next step. Remove the dog’s leash and let the animals become better acquainted. Do not leave them alone until you’re sure they’re fully comfortable with each other.
Properly introducing cats and dogs to live together can go a long way toward bringing peace to the household. Remain watchful to ensure the process goes smoothly. With a little patience, your pets will be cohabiting happily in no time.
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