At first glancecats and dogs can they look like creatures from two different planets.
People tend to stereotypically view cats as aloof and unpredictable and dogs as loyal and expressive. Experts say these stereotypes are exaggerated and not entirely accurate, but pet owners can still be concerned about living with two animals that exhibit different communication styles — and potentially view each other as predators and prey.
Well, don’t be afraid – Reverse interviewed several pet experts about the dos and don’ts of living with cats and dogs. Here’s what they have to say about helping your cat and dog live peacefully together. Spoiler: it’s not impossible.
“Like cats and dogs adapting to living with a different species – us!” says Mikel Delgado, cat expert at Feline Minds Reverse.
Can cats and dogs live in the same house?
Delgado says cats and dogs can be good friends, but their ability to get along depends on each animal’s personality, the circumstances surrounding their introduction, and how pet owners manage their shared environment.
It’s best to either socialize them early in life so they don’t develop predatory behaviors, or look for low-predation dogs to live with the cat, so “you’ll minimize stress when both species are developing. This bond is in a shared space,” Opportunity says Leigh Siegfried, founder of research-based dog training company Barks. Reverse.
“However, if you bring a cat into a home that’s not used to living with dogs, you can get a lot of avoidance and flight behavior from the cat, which can prompt the dog to chase,” says Siegfried.
Rosie Bescoby, a clinical animal behaviorist and media officer for the Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, agrees., Pets introduced during this period “can learn to either ignore each other or, at best, understand each other’s body language cues and communication.”
“You obviously can’t live with a hunting cat without some proper socialization and training,” says PetKeen veterinarian Shirl Bonk. Reverse.
Ultimately, the different body language communication patterns of the species are less important than these factors, but according to Bonk, it is possible for a cat and a dog to coexist “amicably” sharing resources.
“Some dogs will chase the cat or look at them during play, and cats don’t like that. But many dogs are perfectly happy sharing a home with a cat and can make good feline companions,” says animal behavior expert Zazie Todd, who has written several books on the science of pet behavior. Reverse.
How to introduce a cat to a dog (and vice versa)?
Let’s say you decide to add a dog to your household of cats, or vice versa. How to introduce them? According to Todd, to make your home a success, you need to do some planning first.
For a cat, you need to create a room for your cat – no dogs allowed – with a litter box, food, water and a scratching post. They will camp here for the first few days or weeks after arriving at your home. Similar rules apply to dogs.
“If you bring a dog into your home, don’t let them into the whole house; Make sure the cat has no-dog rooms, at least until you see how things go,” says Todd.
Then you can proceed to “gradual” introductions of perfumes. Give the cat something that smells like dog (or vice versa), such as a blanket or other bedding that the pet sleeps on. Allow the pet to interact with the object in its own time. You can offer treats to help them associate the smell with something positive.
“When they respond positively to the scent, you can start making visual presentations from just one open door and then a more visible pet door,” says Todd. Make sure you have two people on hand to make these introductions easier — you want to distract each pet with toys and treats so they’re not looking at each other the whole time, and make sure to be brief with initial mutual praise, says Bonk. for good behavior. After that, the interaction can be longer.
Once the introductions start to go smoothly, you can keep them in the same room for a short period of time, but make sure the dog is on a leash so it can’t chase the cat, at least at first. If the process goes badly, Todd says, it may have to go back to an earlier stage.
In general: be patient with your pets. Delgado says the process can take several weeks, but if the animals continue to seem fearful or stressed, don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a licensed animal or veterinary behaviorist.
How can I help my cat get along with my dog?
You cannot and should not force your pet to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, including making friends with other pets in the household.
“I would encourage a calm, relaxed demeanor around each other—as long as both species feel safe, calm, and relaxed at all times, friendships can thrive,” says Bescoby.
But there are certain best practices you can follow to set your cat and dog up for success. First step: provide separate physical spaces where everyone can explore and feel safe.
In addition to providing a separate area for cats mentioned earlier, owners can provide vertical areas or tops of cat trees that dogs cannot reach. “This will allow them to observe without being threatened,” Bonk said. Consider getting or setting up a place where pets can choose to be with others or alone.
Having separate spaces where they can interact with each other or escape from each other or simply observe each other will keep each one safe and allow them to move through the space without being chased. Siegfried refers to this type of setting as “controlled input”.
Also, experts say you can consider using dog crates, baby gates, and shutters to help carve out these separate physical spaces. This may include placing doors on all sides of the house or keeping the dog in a crate with a vision barrier while allowing the cat to roam freely. Delgado says the litter box should ideally be kept away from dogs.
Siegfried adds, “The priority is to help both species create a safe physical, mental, and emotional space—not just physical space.”
Finally, Siegfried says, you can try thorough training outside the home and then bring the cat and dog into the house to explore since they’re still getting to know each other.
Can my cat and dog share a water bowl?
A common problem that arises in multi-species households: can they share the same water bowl? The answer is mixed.
Because dogs and cats will actually take care of each other, disease transmission by sharing the same water bowl is not a problem unless your cat or dog has a gastrointestinal or upper respiratory tract problem. Be sure to wash the water bowl regularly to prevent bacteria build-up. Bonk adds that dogs also drink more water than cats, so check the water level often and multiple water bowls means different places to drink, Delgado adds.
But other experts worry about the behavioral problems associated with sharing the same resource. Some pets may control another’s access to water, and a conflict may arise if both pets try to access the water bowl at the same time. (Pets should be fed separately for similar reasons.)
“I would always offer separate resources in a household with multiple pets, whether it’s multiple cats, multiple dogs, or a combination,” says Bescoby.
Finally, the litter box can become a smellier problem because dogs love to eat cat poop and litter.
“As a general rule of thumb, you should have one litter box and one spare for each cat, all of which should be out of the dog’s reach,” adds Todd.
The Reverse analysis – With a little foresight and monitoring, chances are your pets can get along, even if they come from different parts of the animal kingdom.