We’ve all seen the cartoons and heard the jokes about cats and dogs fighting. These jokes and generalizations aren’t based on fantasy, they’re actually based on fact. Most cats and dogs do not instinctively get along. However, if you’re a pet lover that can’t choose between cats or dogs and you’d like to have both in your home, there are some things you can do to help fido and fifi get along.

Before you can help you animals get along, you need to understand why they fight. Cats and dogs fight because they are different creatures. Dogs are typically dependent on their humans and awake during the day. Cats on the other hand are awake at night and have a very high level of independence. They are very different and sometimes those differences can cause problems.

First, it’s important to get one or more of the pets young. Whether you get a puppy or a kitten, having one of them go into the relationship as a baby is the easiest way to ensure peace and harmony and prevent too many territorial spats. Usually, full-grown dogs will take to kittens easier than full-grown cats will take to puppies. Use this knowledge to plan the entrance into your family accordingly.

Whether you’re introducing a baby to an older animal or two older animals to each other, keeping them separated at first is a must. This is when pet gates, dog crates or pet carriers can come in handy. If you don’t have a crate for your dog, you should consider getting one. There are many different styles available so you can usually find something that suits your lifestyle, needs and decor preferences, from the simple plastic crates that are easy to transport, to beautiful wooden dog crates, or the more utilitarian wire crates. For cats, a small pet carrier can be a great safe place for a cat looking to get away from the dog. Besides having a place to put the dog or cat when they need a break, it’s also important to make sure that both animals have a special place in your home to call their own.

Tips on Introducing a Kitten to Your Dog

Introduce your pets to each other slowly and for short, very supervised periods. If your dog is grown and you're introducing a kitten, go very slow. Their first experiences will set the tone for future encounters. An anxious, excited dog can also injure a kitten very quickly. If the dog gets the cat in their mouth, things may get out of hand very quickly, so keep the dog on a leash during the early introductions so you can quickly remove the kitten from the dog's reach if necessary. Let your dog see the cat, but keep the kitten out of their reach until you are sure they won't attack, bite or scare the kitten.

Be liberal with the dog treats when the dog displays good behavior towards the kitten, such as being calm, sniffing or licking the cat, etc. Repeat this process for short, supervised periods on a daily basis until you see that the kitten feels comfortable playing around the dog, or at least doesn't feel threatened, and until you are sure the dog won't hurt the cat. Once they are well introduced, you shouldn't have to worry too much. Do keep an eye on them though until the kitten is old enough to fend for itself, in case the dog gets too frisky with him or her.

 

Stay in control of first meetings and go slowly

Tips on Introducing a Cat to your New Puppy

While introducing a full grown cat to a new puppy may be a bit more challenging, they can also learn to co-exist with the new pup if the introductions are handled properly. Puppies, in their exhuberance, can quickly irritate an older cat and can wind up with a good scractch or bite and become fearful of the cat. So to start things off, keep the puppy in their dog crate when the cat is around and let the cat sniff around and examine the new specimen for the first few days.

After a few days, you can take it to the next step. Let the puppy out and hold him while you let them meet the cat. If the cat gets anxious, you can put the cat or dog back in their crate. Don't push it too far. The use of treats may not work as well with cats, but it's worth a try to teach the cat that being nice to the puppy is a good thing.

Once the basic introductions are done, you should be able to start letting your pup walk around when the cat is out as long as the cat has a way to escape, or a cat tower to get up and out of reach from all that puppy love. If you notice the dog getting too frisky or pestering the cat too much, call a time out and put one of them away in their crate or carrier, but otherwise, let them learn to play and at least tolerate each other. The cat may never be best friends with your dog, but the goal should be to get them to co-exist peacefully.

Finally, make sure you spend time with both animals equally. Pets are not immune to jealousy and if one pet feels that you are spending too much attention on the other, they may start seeing green. Avoid this by spending time with both pets. Take your dog for a walk, then sit and pet the cat for a while. If you're training the dog with treats, be sure you keep a stash of cat treats handy.

There are plenty of ways you can bond with both pets equally to ensure that nobody feels left out. Common sense and some the right set up can make your home a more habitable place for all of your pets. Having a cat and dog that can co-exist in a home is a real possibility if you take the time to make the introductions and ease the animals into the relationship.