We all grew up believing this stereotype – “cats and dogs hate each other”, “they are sworn enemies”. It's also how the idiom, “fighting like cats and dogs” came about. With all these myths and misconceptions floating around, it’s no wonder that you might be a bit nervous about bringing home your new pet dog when you already have a cat. But is it really true? Do cats and dogs really hate each other? If they do, then what about all the videos you’ve seen of puppies and kittens cuddling around and napping together? Truly, what is the truth? We're here to answer all of your questions!
Are Cats and Dogs Really Enemies?
Well, the short answer is no. Different species of animals behave aggressively towards each other in their natural environment. It is instinctual for them to show antagonism, dominance, fear, or submission to each other based on behavioral signals. Cats and dogs are no different. Dogs instinctively chase smaller animals, especially when they flee. The cat perceives it as being in danger and responds by either running away or hissing at the dog. Some might even strike the dog with their claws leading to a full-blown fight.
The funny thing, however, is that dogs usually become afraid of a cat once it has hit them or scratched them. This signals that dogs aren’t really hostile toward cats. In fact, studies show that with enough socializing and exposure, cats and dogs become amiable and even friendly with each other. So, you have the green light to bring that adorable cavapoo puppy you’ve always wanted!
How to make your cat and new dog get along? 6 Best tips to follow
But before you get all giddy and shock your cat with a new furry family member. That’s so different from her. It would be best if you take out some time to learn the best way to introduce your cat to a new pet and make them get along.
1. The introduction should be gradual
There's a general consensus that introducing your pet to a new pet or even a newborn baby should be a gradual process. Don't simply thrust them into a room together. That's a recipe for disaster. Instead, make sure you get them acquainted with each other’s presence indirectly at first. For example, let them sniff and get familiar with the scent of a new animal. You can do this by letting them meet on opposite sides of a closed door. Likewise, you can feed them at the same time too so that they can form a positive association with their new friend.
2. Give both pets their own space or territory
It is one of the most crucial aspects of having mixed-species pets. You have to give them their own space. Especially, a cat requires her own safe space she can escape to whenever the new dog gets too hyper and starts chasing her around. Since cats love the height, you can make use of wall shelves or tall cat trees for this purpose. Moreover, keeping their toys separate is a good idea as well.
3. Consider your fur babies’ personality
One of the things to consider before bringing a new pet home is its personality. Experts say that it’s not as much as a breed but rather the personality of the dog on which the harmony of your house is dependent. Generally, cats and dogs have different temperaments. Cats don’t like to play around much unless they are kittens. Contrastingly, dogs are commonly more energetic and playful. However, there are some dogs that are calmer than others. Those might be a better fit for a cat household. In the end, it all depends on what personality and energy level your fur babies have.
4. Train the puppy to not bother the cat
It is crucial that the dog is well-trained before introducing him to the cat. At the very least, he should be able to strictly follow “stay”, “stop”, “no” or “leave it” commands. This way you can easily control your dog in case his chasing instincts kick in.
5. Don’t make your pets jealous – Give them equal time
Dogs are so affectionate and human-like, you might wonder, “do dogs get jealous?” and the answer is yes! Dogs get jealous when you pay attention to other pets instead of them. On the other hand, we all know cats rarely get jealous. They do, however, suffer from separation anxiety. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that to make your pets get along well, you need to give them equal attention, time, and love.
6. Don't make them Fight for Food and Toys
Pets will fight if they perceive other animals in the house as competition for their resources. This includes food and toys. Make sure to feed both the cat and the dog separately so they don’t fight over food. Likewise for toys.
3 Frequently Asked Questions about Mixed Species Pets
1. What dog breeds to avoid when you have a cat?
Almost all breeds of cats and dogs can get along well with each other with proper socializing and training. However, certain dog breeds such as Terriers with their hunting instincts, and Hounds with their fondness for chasing, as well as Herding dogs with a desire to herd any moving object, may find it difficult to coexist. You should always do thorough research on what dog breeds can peacefully live with catsbeforehand.
2. How to keep your cat and dog from fighting?
The key to preventing your pets from fighting is to make sure they both have their own safe spaces and territories, where they can escape and calm down.
3. Can I leave my cat and new dog home alone?
Never leave your cat and a new dog home alone. It's not safe and you can never take too many precautions. It is only acceptable in the case when both animals have been properly socialized and trained.
As opposed to popular belief, cats and dogs actually do not hate each other. In fact, they can get along pretty well if they’ve been socialized from a young age. Furthermore, it is possible to teach your fur babies to live harmoniously with each other with some training and consideration.