Cats and dogs are usually painted as complete opposites. People believe they have contrasting personalities that don’t coexist. That can make life difficult for people who love both animals and want to keep both as pets. Thankfully, dog and cat cohabitation is not an impossible task. With these handy tips, you can help turn your cat and dog from mortal enemies into BFF’s.
Plan their first meeting carefully
First impressions are as important in the animal world as they are in the human world. And like in the human world, you only make one first impression. So you need to make sure your dog and cat’s first meeting is a great one. And what better way to build a bond than with food? First, let your dog and cat smell each other’s bedding and toys before they meet. This will help your dog and cat familiarise themselves with their new housemate’s smell. Next, schedule your first dog/cat meeting during mealtime, but keep both dogs on either side of a closed door. They’ll still smell one another on the other side, helping them become used to their presence. As this continues over the next few weeks, they will associate each other’s smell with food. After the first few weeks, have them eat with a screen or dog gate between them. After another few weeks, remove the screen/gate altogether. If your dog is particularly excitable, we recommend keeping him on a leash until you feel it is safe for him to be around the cat without it.
Bear their personalities in mind
The general stereotypes of cats and dogs are that cats are aloof and independent, while dogs are loving and friendly. That’s not always true, with many different dogs and cats having their own personality and quirks. This is why you should always take your pet’s personality into account when bringing another animal into the house. For example, a particularly boisterous dog wouldn’t do well living with a very skittish and nervous cat. You should always remember how your dog or cat behaves when deciding to bring their furry opposite into the fold.
Keep their food and toys separate
Animals, including dogs and cats, are very protective of their food. That’s why it’s essential that you keep your dog and cat foods separate. If your cat decides they want to take a nibble out of the dog’s dinner, or vice versa, it can lead to a lot of aggression. So, after the initial few weeks of eating near each other, you should make sure to feed your dog and cat at regular meal times in different areas of the house. You could try leaving your cat’s bowl in a high spot (i.e. a table, the kitchen desktop) so that your dog can’t reach it. We also recommend keeping your pet’s toys separate from each other. Competition over toys can lead to aggression and fighting. That's why it’s better to keep them completely separate.
Keep your dog’s body and mind stimulated
Dogs always need exercise and stimulation. They’re active creatures who get bored and restless easily. If they’re not getting enough exercise or have anything to keep themselves busy, they’re going to find themselves something to do. This can lead to them bothering the cat, and behaviour by like that can lead to friction between the two. To avoid situations like this, make sure you are giving your dog a regular amount of exercise they need. Also, look for different ways to exercise your dog, both mentally and physically. This can range from exercise courses to new-trick training, puzzle or games.
Give your cat his/her own space
Even though the stereotype of cats being loners isn’t always true, they do like to be independent and have their own space. That’s why it’s important that your cat has a safe haven from the rest of the house to feel comfortable in. With this in mind, it’s also important to remember that dogs are never mindful of ‘personal space’. This is fine for humans, but cats… not so much. So make sure your dog can’t get into the cat’s personal space. An effective way to do this would be to set up your cat’s space in a high spot. Cats are natural vertical climbers, and this will ensure the dog can’t reach their space. Also, your cat will feel safe being able to observe the dog from a secure, high position.