Dogs Living with Cats: Don’t Let the Fur Fly

Do you have cats, but hesitate to own a dog even though you’d like to?

However, “Fighting like cat and dog” isn’t inevitable when you use a little animal cunning.

The first thing to get right is your choice of dog. Most shelters ‘cat test’ their dogs to see if they’re feline friendly, so you should get off on the right paw with a rescue animal. If your heart is set on a puppy, then you and your cat can teach the youngster good manners as he grows up. But be aware that terriers are hardwired to chase cats, so avoiding these breeds might be wise.

Scent Handshake

Get set for success by making introductions by scent before the pets meet face to face. Have the breeder or rescue wipe a cloth over the dog to collect his smell, and then put it on your cat’s favourite snoozing spot. Do the same with the cat’s scent.

Once the pets are under the same roof, continue this scent handshake by stroking one and then the other. This mingles their scents and as they grow familiar with the alien smell it diffuses tension.

Indeed, when bringing the new pet home, set up in his own sanctuary. Don’t let him free roam the house (apart from anything else this makes house training tricky) but limit him to one or two rooms. After a day or two, swap rooms with the cat so that both get to investigate the other’s scent trail but without confronting each other.

On a similar note add pheromones to your welcome pack, by plugging in Adaptil in your dog’s den and Feliway in your cat sanctuary. This sends out subliminal messages that all’s right with the world, to keep both canine and cat, calm and collected.

First Impressions Count

Dog sees cat. Dog chases cat. Disaster!

A moving cat triggers the dog’s predatory instinct to chase. Unfortunately, there is no faster way for the two to fall out.

Introduce dog and cat in a controlled way. Prepare the dog in advance by teaching a rock-solid “Sit” and have him hooked on an ultra-tasty treat that’s to-die-for. Enlist the help of a friend so that you have one person per pet. Keep the dog on the lead, have him sit, distract him with the tasty treat and then let the cat in the room.

The trick is to keep his attention and praise calm behaviour in the cat’s presence. Have him under control on the leash but avoid telling him off or he will link the cat to bad things. Keep it short and sweet, end on a high, and repeat again the next day. Oh, and don’t leave them together unsupervised until they are best buddies.

Cat Considerations

A cornered cat will hiss, spit, and lash out. Whilst a bit of bad language is not a bad thing in order to teach the dog good manners, you don’t want anyone (two or four-legged) getting hurt.

Help kitty keep her cool by providing tall cat towers so she can escape vertically if it all gets too much. Likewise, make sure she can’t be disturbed whilst using the litter tray or she may decide to toilet somewhere more private…like your bedroom.

Remember, bringing a dog into her territory is unsettling for the cat. This may trigger excessive scratching of furniture in an attempt to bolster her confidence. Anticipate this natural behaviour by providing plenty of sturdy scratching posts for her to leave her scent messages.

And finally, be lavish with love and praise the positive for both pets. That way, feeling happy and content, peace will break out between your four-legged fur friends.

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