The age-old rivalry between cats and dogs makes it hard on people who love all four-legged furry friends, regardless of the animal. Rest assured that many of us have happy households full of humans, canines, and felines. On the other hand, if you get stuck in a situation in which your cat is not happy sharing the home with your dog, try out these methods to have at least a shaky armistice.
Why Does It Happen?
Cats are not purposefully aggressive. They have a reputation for being provokers but they are usually content to live out their days basking in the sunlight. When a cat attacks a dog, it is usually rooted in fear even if that fear is irrational and has no basis. This is probably more common in situations where the cat has seniority over the dog.
Cats get very accustomed to their home and surroundings. While they can be adaptable if required, a new dog can be upsetting to a finicky cat. If you decide on adopting a dog, consider getting a mellower dog who has grown out of the rambunctious puppy phase.
So, Now What?
You may have botched the introduction, but don’t lose faith. Try to allow your cat time to slowly get used to the fact that a dog will be a part of the family. Keep your dog and cat separate if possible. When you don’t have enough space in the home to keep them separated, train the dog – not the cat. The dog should know to keep a respectful distance from the cat. Try not to leave them unattended for long periods of time or take the dog with you on outings when possible.
Time is the solution to many problems and this is probably no different. Cats, just like any animal, will get used to their new circumstances because that’s what animals do! If you take your time to get them acquainted with each other, there’s no reason why your cat and dog can’t call a truce.
Give the Cat a Safe Space
A cat will often use violent measures to defend himself if he perceives that 1) he is in imminent danger and 2) if he has nowhere to escape to. Prevention through separation is the most effective way to protect both animals, but sometimes this isn’t possible. The second-best method is to do damage control.
Provide your kitty with a nice cat condo. The giant tree-house types are good but be sure to anchor them so that the dog can’t knock it down in excitement. If you opt for a smaller one, find a high platform to place it on so that Rover cannot get to it.
Train the Dog
Even the most disobedient dog is easier to train than a cat. With positive reinforcement and plenty of treats encourage your dog to frequent a different area of your home than where the cat might like to hang out. Feed them in different places. Keep the cat’s food bowl and water somewhere inaccessible to the dog.
Take the dog on long walks so that he is too tired to chase the cat. Keep him occupied with plenty of toys and activities. Two people in the home is better – each animal can get affection and comfort separately without getting in each other’s way.
After you’ve done your due diligence to make sure both parties cannot injure each other, be optimistic. It may be a few weeks or a few months but the dog and cat will eventually get used to each other. The newness of the situation is what makes it so tense. When the kitty realizes he is not in danger and when the novelty of the kitty-in-residence has worn off for your dog, things will calm down.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.