We’ve all heard the expression ‘fighting like cats and dogs’. This has led us to believe that they’re both natural enemies and will struggle to live happily together under the same roof. The truth is that just like us humans, the two animals are able to form a close bond if their personalities are compatible.
People who love both cats and dogs may have had very different experiences with having both pets living under the same roof. Some cats and dogs will in fact quite literally ‘fight like cats and dogs’ and some people will have had a good experience with their cat and dog being the best of friends, sleeping in the same bed, playing together, ‘sharing’ food.
So what actually makes the difference between cats and dogs that are lifelong friends and a pair that can’t stand the sight of one another?
All pets have individual personalities. Some cats will be playful and others will be intolerant. A lot of the time they tend to be a bit of both. Introducing a cat to your pup is something many people worry about doing as cats are usually cold towards new people in the family. How well a cat and dog get on, often comes down to their personalities and how compatible they are, they aren’t so different from us.
A timid cat is likely to be wary of a dog. Most dogs are boisterous and bold characters, and because of this the cat may hiss or lash out. If on the other hand your cat is playful and bold then they’re less likely to feel intimidated. The dog usually will just want to play with the cat but sometimes these signals can be misinterpreted or the dog can just play too rough.
A wagging tail usually indicates a dog is happy, however cats use their tails to ‘switch’, signalling that they’re angry, there can often be mixed messages between both animals. Your dog may see the wagging of a cat’s tail as they want to play and the cat may see the wagging of a dog’s tail as a signal of anger. These mixed signals can end up with a sad cat and a hurt pup. If your cat is confident, chances are they’ll get on with your dog, if you’re cats more timid they’re less likely to take to a boisterous dog.
When introducing your cat and dog, it’s important to keep them separate at first when you are not in the same room to keep an eye on them. So maybe keep them in separate rooms.
Put your dog on a lead at first when you have them in the same room. If you have an older cat, let it choose when it is going to come and check out your dog. Make sure you reward your dog for letting your cat sniff.
If you have a kitten, I suggest you sit on the floor with the kitten in your lap and your dog by your side and let them sniff and check each other out. Do not let your dog chase and reward both for being next to each other.
You could also try sitting on the floor with an older cat and a puppy on your lap.
When you are sure that they know not to chase, you can let your dog off the lead, but still watch for chasing. Also make sure your cat has an escape route if the dog’s presence is too much. I have always had both dogs and cats and they all live together very well.