Dogs and Cats
There may be no more infamous rivalry in all of history than the one between dogs and cats. It seems there’s a near infinite amount of cartoons, movies, shows, and books that all portray the volatile relationship between canines and felines, and there’s no real end in sight.
With all this bad press it can be hard to imagine how it’s possible you could have both a cat and dog, and it can discourage people from taking the leap to own both a cat and a dog. The reality is that many people own both cats and dogs, and you shouldn’t let dramatic recreations of their relationship from having both a cat and a dog.
What you should do, however, is take a bit of time to understand how these two species will interact, and how best to introduce them to your home and to each other. The good news is that it’s often times and fun process that is rewarding for all parties involved.
To help you mediate this new relationship in your life, we’ve compiled a set of tips and tricks that will let you close the divide between man’s best friend and man’s closest acquaintance.
Tips & Tricks
Believe it or not, one of the most important factors in successfully bringing your dog and cat together is going to be you. Dogs and cats are bred to observe and to an extent understand human behavior and be better domesticated animal.
A side-effect of this perceptive nature is that both your cat and dog can sense when you’re nervous or anxious. Don’t make one of the most high pressure situations (except maybe the first vet visit) worse by appearing to be in any way nervous or anxious.
At all time it is essential that you exude a sense of control and calmness. Doing so will help insure that when your dog and cat meet they are doing so under the best conditions possible.
It is best that you make the animals introduction a gradual process rather than confronting each with each other without warning. This might seem like common sense, but the first stage of this gradual introduction is not particularly intuitive.
Start by keeping the pets in separate rooms entirely. While you might not notice any interaction, the scent of another animal alone is enough to stimulate curiosity and get each animal accustomed to each other on a level.
Leave each pet in separate rooms and allow them to familiarize themselves with the scent. Once that has been established, and only after that has been established, should you start pursuing more direct interaction.
Once the animals are familiar with each other’s scents, you can begin mediating more direct interaction. This does not mean, however, that you should start throwing them in rooms together without ceremony.
Remember that this is a gradual process and there’s more to be lost than gained by rushing into things. The best step to take after introducing your pets to each other’s scents, is introducing them to each other through a gate or through a playpen.
Separate your pets into separate rooms and divide each room with a gate. BE sure the gate is high enough that neither pet will venture unsupervised into the other room. Your cat may hiss, and your dog may begin to bark or growl. Don’t let this scare you.
The gate insures that no physical harm will occur, and you can monitor the interaction carefully. Mostly it’s important that you let it play out naturally. Allow them to growl or hiss, so they can get used to the other’s form of communication.
Gradually both animals should begin to get accustomed to each other.
Face to Face
Once both parties are familiar with each other in a visual sense, you can finally bring them together into the same room. Hopefully, thanks to the gradual introduction, this step goes smoothly.
To be safe, you should keep your dog on a leash. Aove all, remember to stay cool. Give your dog commands like “sit” and “stay”, so they understand nothing has changed and you are still in charge. This is where your dog training comes in handy.
If conflict begins to arise, don’t panic. That will make things far worse. Instead try to distract the offending animal using a favorite toy or treat. Do so with caution, however, because you don’t want to appear as though you’re encouraging or rewarding bad behavior.
Your job is simply to oversee the interaction and insure that nobody gets hurt.
Now that you have a good understanding of how to introduce your pets, here are a few tips that can help make the process a little easier and a little less stressful for everybody.
First, insure that your cat is never cornered. Cats need a degree of freedom to feel comfortable, and you should not limit this freedom, especially under stressful circumstances. Be sure your cat has avenues for escape when making introductions so they don’t feel as though you’re cornering them or putting them in harm’s way.
Not all steps should protect your cat, however. Thoguh your dog is likely bigger, they may need a little protecting, too. Make sure your cat’s claws are trimmed so your dog won’t experience any lasting damage if conflict should arise. You can trim your dog’s nails, too, if you want everybody on equal footing.
Another great tip is simply making sure your dog isn’t too hyper when first meeting your kitty. Take him for a long run, so he is calm and more likely to slep than cause any problems with your cat.
The last step is continued monitoring of your cat and dog. Don’t leave the pets together unless you can say with 100% certainty that they are comfortable together and there will be no trouble while you’re gone.
There’s no sense in taking on unnecessary risk when you’re dealing with your beloved pets, so take your time and make this a gradual experience for everybody.
The truth is that when done right, cats and dogs can be a perfect pair like peanut butter and jelly. The trick is to take your time with introductions, and understand that it can be an overwhelming experience for both your cat and dog.
With a little understanding you can have a great relationship all around that makes everybody’s life just a little bit sweeter than it otherwise would be.