Cats vs. Dogs: How To Help Them Get Along

A few weeks ago a friend told us how her parents were having issues with their new puppy. The problem? He didn’t get along with the cat. The previous dog, who sadly passed away, had gotten along swimmingly with their feline family member. But with this new pup, it was war.

So what can you do to help cats and dogs get along and live together harmoniously? Well, there’s no magic solution, but taking these actions can help.

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  1. Introduce Them Slowly

    There’s nothing worse than throwing the two together in a room and letting them “work it out.” What a crazy surprise! Instead, according to Petsit.com, the new animal should be introduced slowly. Separate the two for the first hours or even a day so they can get used to the other’s smells and sounds. Then when you introduce your dog, make sure he is in a calmer state as not to overwhelm the cat. Limit their initial contact so they have time to warm up to one another.

  2. Obedience Training For Fido

    In the words of Cesar Millan, cats see dogs “as the unstable energy they project.” Their size and energy level can be quite overwhelming! As mentioned earlier, it’s important to make sure your dog is as calm as he can be when they interact. Exercise and obedience training immensely helps with this. Make sure your dog is learning his P’s and Q’s, responding to your commands and getting lots of mental stimulation and exercise.

  3. Look At It From Your Pet’s Perspective

    According to experts, the most common issue with the cat/dog cohabitation situation is that dogs are too playful and cats are too fearful. To understand, you have to look at it from the animal’s perspective. Dogs see cats as a fun plaything, or worse, something they want to chase. Cats see pups as aggressive, crazy forces of nature. This can help you understand what drives the behavior of each one and what you can do about it.

  4. Create Separate Spaces

    Giving each animal their own individual space can greatly help the situation. For example, you can put up baby gates so they each have an area of their own in the house in which the other doesn’t have access. Cats need a calm space, preferably with an elevated resting area. And dogs need a place where they can play and let out energy. This arrangement doesn’t have to last forever, but you should give it a try at least for the initial introduction.

  5. Don’t Force It

    Let the relationship progress naturally. It’s tempting to put the two together in a confined space or pick the animals up and put them next to each other. (I’m guilty of the last one; I picked my brother’s cat up and put it next to my giant Labrador puppy. The results were not good. Lesson learned in a big way.)

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Most experts say it takes days to weeks for the pets to start acclimating to one another. But, if there are serious confrontations between the two, don’t wait until someone gets hurt. Make sure you get help from a veterinarian, trainer or behavioral specialist.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 44 percent of U.S. pet owners have multiple-pet households, and as you might have guessed, the most common combinations involved cats and dogs. They are both great pets in their own right but also very different species. Some preparation and insight can help ease the transition and create a harmonious home.

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