Do you want to bring home a new cat , but worry that they’ll fight like, well… cats and dogs?
As it turns out, you can safely enjoy the best of both worlds.
A University of Lincoln questionnaire study found that the majority of cat-dog households are relatively peaceful. Keeping in mind that the results come from a self-reported survey, animal behaviour experts were not available to actually observe the households. Even so, the results of the survey are helpful to prospective cat parents who already have dogs.
What We Can Learn From Cat-Dog Households
The survey, which included answers from 748 people, found that 64.9% of cats and 85.8% of dogs were said to be “rarely” or “never” uncomfortable in the other’s presence. It also showed that 20.5% of their cats and just 7.3% of their dogs were uncomfortable with one another at least once a week.
Naturally, dogs are typically larger and more powerful than cats, so it makes sense that dogs are unlikely to feel threatened by their feline housemates.
Another study, conducted by Tel Aviv University, included video animal behaviour reviews with experts, and illustrated that two thirds of cat-dog relationships were actually positive. They found that adopting the cat first, and introducing the animals before maturity – prior to six months of age for cats, and one year for dogs – greatly increased the chance of a positive relationship.
Adopting A Dog Compatible Cat
You’ll want to adopt a cat under six months of age, or one that has been known to have a good relationship with dogs in their previous home. Many shelters and humane societies conduct temperament for compatibility with other animals.
If you’re buying a cat from a breeder, consider looking into breeds that are known to be dog friendly. Large cats, like the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat, tend to get along well with dogs. Affectionate, laid-back breeds like the Ragdoll, Birman and American Shorthair also tend to like dogs.
How You Can Help Your Cat Feel Safe
The successful cat-dog relationship is usually,dictated by your cat. If your cat feels safe and secure, they will not feel the need to attack your dog or race around in a way that starts up a chase.
Make sure your cat has plenty of high up areas that your dog cannot access. Cat trees, cat shelves, and windowsills can all make good kitty havens that your cat can use if they are ever feeling overwhelmed by your dog, or just need some space of their own.
Your Cat’s First Days Home
On your cat’s first day home, you may be tempted to let them loose and let your pets “sort it out”. This is the worst possible scenario because your dog may become territorial upon a strange creature entering their home, while your cat will already be anxious, and would be flooded by the stress of all of the new sights and smells, plus the attention from your curious dog.
Keep your new cat in a safe space with their litter box. Confined to one room, like a bathroom, they can slowly get to know your home while your dog starts to pick up on their scent. After a few days, you can introduce your cat to other parts of your home, while your dog is contained with a baby gate, but able to see and smell your cat through it.
It’s normal for both animals to be curious around one another. Look for signs of stress or stimulation overload, like barking, lunging and heavy panting from your dog, and puffing, hissing or hiding from your cat. You can offer treats to each animal to help them feel less stressed while they are spending time near one another.
If both animals seem tolerant one another – they don’t have to be best friends right away – you can put them in the same room, supervised, with your dog on a leash. Do not walk your dog right up to your cat, as it would be overwhelming to force them to be face-to-face in an unnatural way.
Encouraging A Healthy Friendship
A large bed placed in the direct path of a midday sunbeam can become a popular communal cuddle-zone. You can also try training your cat and dog alongside each other to create a positive experience.
When it comes down to it, you cannot make your cat and dog become friends. It’s not unusual for them to merely tolerate one another for their entire lives.
As long as your cat has safe spaces, and you keep your dog out of the cat’s food bowl and litter box, they should feel content in your home.
Need Help Training Your Dog To Leave Your Cat Alone?
Even with precautions, your dog may still bother your cat. This can be due to boredom, prey drive or even fear. Using positive training techniques, we can teach your dog to feel differently about your cat – no punishments needed. Punishments can actually create negative experiences for your dog that they will associate with the cat’s presence, which can make bad behaviour worse.
Call 647-749-8731 or contact Healthy Houndz for positive dog training in Toronto and North York.