Dogs & Cats Really Can Get along

August 14, 2012

Dog and Kitty Love

Some dogs and cats seem to possess a natural instinct for accepting and even loving each other.  The majority of cats harbor a deep distrust  of dogs, and patience and time are required to overcome it.

If you already own a dog and are adding a cat to the family, begin slowly.  Isolate the newcomer in a separate room with food, water, toys, and a litter box for several days to a week.  Visit her frequently and give her lots of love and attention.  When you can confine the dog to a closed room or outside, open Fluffy’s door and allow her to wander on her own terms. Wipe each animal down with the same towel – back and forth – so they will begin to smell alike to each other.  Hopefully, the two will get used to each other’s presence in the house by visiting beneath the cat’s closed door.

Introduce the new cat by leashing your dog and allowing Fluffy to investigate him as she pleases, making sure that you have complete control of the dog.  Once you are comfortable that the two can co-exist without bloodshed, leave the cat’s door open so that she can come and go at will.   She should always have a safe place to escape if needed.

If the new feline is a kitten, it will need more attention than would an adult cat.  The procedure should be the same, but you may be able to speed up the process, if your dog is gentle and accepting of the baby.  Never, ever leave a kitten with an adult dog, unsupervised.

Some dogs are bred to have a strong prey drive, but it isn’t always the ones you expect.  My Weimaraner, a dog bred for hunting, is a very gentle soul.  In the yard, on leash, Gator goes on point – nose in the air and nub of a tail stiff – when a rabbit or squirrel is near by.  But when I brought home 6-week-old Lucy from a shelter, Gator loved her from the get-go.  I still didn’t leave them alone together, but he never once displayed aggression toward her.    

Our Bulldog, Maggie, was a different story.  She was 8-months-old when we brought her home to foster.  The cats numbered 4 at that point and all were adults, so I didn’t think about isolating anyone.  I quickly learned that in Maggie’s brain, cats were for chasing and intimidating and if I “spoke” to her about it, she would snarl at me.  She was a challenge to train, and a long time passed before I trusted her with our cats.  Today, she is fine but she will occasionally lie in wait for Chico to come through the cat door and jump at him.  He runs, Maggie gives chase and it becomes a game.

The relationship between dogs and cats can be contentious or precious.  It all depends on how they are introduced.

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