Some people are cat people and prefer cats as pets. Other people are dog people and prefer them as pets. That is just fine. There are a good number of people who like both cats and dogs and wish to have one of each.
This can be a satisfying experience or a disaster depending on the choice of dog and cat and the arrangements made to make each animal feel secure in the home.
Dogs and cats don’t automatically become friends, they must be allowed to interact on their own terms with each feeling secure.
Choosing the Cat and Dog
When a family decides to have both a cat and a dog, they must choose them carefully.
If the family starts with one pet and then decides to add another pet, there are steps to make the change easier for both animals.
Choosing the cat or dog carefully is the first step. Having multiple animals calls for advance planning.
Don’t adopt a dog that does not like cats and then expect to add a cat to the home peacefully.
When each pet is chosen, make sure to ask if they get along with cats or dogs.
Ask about the animal’s history if you are rescuing an older dog or cat.
Some breeds of dogs are just not bred to live peacefully with cats.
Some cats don’t like dogs because of past experiences.
If the pets are carefully chosen, they will be able to live together peacefully in most cases. It might take a little effort at first.
Each Animal Needs Their Own Space
Each animal should have their own animal pad or bed where they feel safe and secure.
The animal beds should be placed in an area of the home where the pets can retreat to for quiet naps.
One possibility is a calming cat bed for the cat. These cat beds are comfortable and help the cat feel safe and secure.
The dog needs a bed properly sized for it.
The beds should be placed where each animal is happy rather than side by side. They may need space to relax alone.
Don’t be disappointed if you spend money on two animal beds and find the two animals curled up together on one bed or if one or both animals decide to choose their own sleeping spots like a chair, couch, or your bed.
A cat might have three or more spots it alternates between depending on mood and time of day.
Some dogs prefer to lie on a carpet, area rug, or bare floor at least part of the time.
Tips on Introducing Cats and Dogs
There are ways to smooth the meeting of cats and dogs that will help them live together successfully.
The dog and cat will have their own personalities that need to coincide. Some dogs and cats just don’t hit it off at the start but will get used to each other.
Others will only tolerate each other. And, sometimes, the whole introduction will be a disaster and they will never be able to live together in peace.
Avoid the disaster of pets not getting along by choosing the animals carefully.
If the second animal to join the family is to be adopted from a shelter, ask to bring the animal already in the home to meet the possible new animal before adopting it or adopt the animal with the provision that if it does not get along with the other animal it can be exchanged for a better-suited animal.
Once the choice of animal has been made and it is coming home to live, these tips may help smooth the way.
- The ideal is to get both the dog and cat at the same time while they are very young so they grow up together, but that does not always happen. Some people do not want to deal with training kittens and puppies but prefer mature dogs and cats. A compromise might be to introduce a puppy to a mature cat or a kitten to an adult dog. Make sure to be there at first to observe how they get along. Young animals will need supervision.
- Each animal must have its own needs mat, and they need some private space. Cats need a private place for their kitty litter where the dog won’t bother it. You don’t want the dog snacking on kitty poop or bothering the cat when it is relieving itself. The same goes for food dishes.
- Before the cat and dog are introduced, give each of them a cloth or other object with the other animal’s scent on it. Animals react to the scent of other animals. So, if they smell the other animal before the meeting, things will go better.
- Cats do not like change and are territorial so introducing a dog might need to be a slow process of several days to several weeks with the cat having a safe place to retreat to where the dog can not follow. Putting the two animals together for short periods of time at first and then lengthening the time works well for many people. It is important to spend time with each animal so neither feels displaced by the other. They need time to safely get used to each other. The cat needs a refuge of its own for the first few days.
- It may be a good idea to keep the leash on the dog at early meetings so it can be controlled if it gets too aggressive with the cat. Some people keep the dog and cat at opposite sides of a pet gate at first while they get used to each other.
- Do not ever declaw the cat, but do trim its claws to protect the dog from accidental injuries caused by sharp claws. There are also nail caps that coat the cat’s claws.
- give each animal a separate place to eat and drink with separate containers. The feeding stations should be some distance apart. The cat’s food may need to be elevated so the dog can’t get to it and steal cat food. You can also put the cat’s food station in a place the dog can’t reach, such as a cat carrier.
Choosing compatible animals and taking a few steps to help them get to know each other safely and respecting each animal’s needs will go a long way toward success in having both a cat and a dog.