What do you do when you have some family members who love dogs and others who insist on having a cat? Although you might be tempted to rebel at the idea of living under the same roof with two species known to be natural enemies, it isn’t always the case. With a little help from you and a lot of love, dogs and cats can coexist happily if you take the time to understand the differences and similarities in feline and canine behaviour.
The Art of Introduction
Some people believe that the best way to get dogs and cats to coexist is to get them both at very young ages. Let them grow up together. However, this isn’t always possible if one or the other is already a family pet. Dog and cat breeders both suggest that you begin by introducing your current pet to the scent of the new pet you intend to introduce to the household. Rub the soon-to-be family member with a towel or some article of clothing so that its scent permeates the fabric. Then bring that material home and put it in your pet’s bed. Do this a few times and soon that will be a familiar scent.
While you can’t automatically keep both pets in the same room, you can slowly let them meet each other. Some experts say to crate them both for a short time each day with the crates close together on the floor. Actually, this makes good sense because dogs and cats do get jealous and by leaving them both in neutral territory, you are not choosing favourites by holding one or the other.
Feeding Time at the Zoo
So, you’ve gone out of your way to buy only the best natural wet cat food for your feline friend or natural grain-free dog food for your canine fur baby. Dogs love cat food and cats, although finicky, will try a morsel or two of dog food if the mood strikes them. Dogs, actually, will probably be the real culprits so it is suggested that you place the dog food on the floor and the cat food on something high enough where the dog can’t reach.
Dryers in the utility room are good places to place wet cat food because cats, like dogs, have a keen sense of smell. They can easily jump up for their tasty treat and if you keep the litter box in the same room, cats will quickly learn the routine. Just beware of one important fact. Dogs think nothing of snacking from the litter box, so maybe you’d like to keep him out of the utility room or keep the litter box high as well. As disgusting as that sounds to us humans, it’s natural in the animal world.
Patience Is More than a Virtue
In the end, patience is more than a virtue. It’s a necessity when introducing dogs and cats. While not always natural enemies, they don’t always get along as well as you’d like. Take your time and introduce them slowly. Don’t show favouritism and always take the time to learn what will lead to a hissing or barking match. With time, effort and love, you can get the two to coexist, if not happily, at least peacefully, so be patient and everyone will survive the ordeal.