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5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 15, 2018
5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along

Despite what popular culture would have you believe, it is actually possible for dogs and cats to live in harmony even if they have completely different temperaments, lifestyles and behaviors. A peaceful relationship and cohabitation between your household pets is extremely important, as it will allow you to enjoy living with your companions without having to worry about a thing.

Do you want to learn more? Stay with us at AnimalWised and discover these 5 tips to help a cat and a dog live together and get along. You'll soon notice how cohabitation in your home gets much easier and happier!

You may also be interested in: Tips to Make a Dog and a Cat Get Along

Respect the behaviors of each species

Dogs and cats have very different social structures as species. Dogs organize their society in packs with a hierarchical structure, in which there is only one dominant animal. Cats, on the other hand, are solitary animals who defend their territory. Of course, this difference in behaviors, bonds and lifestyle can spark conflicts.

The best way to help your cat and your dog live together and get along is to respect both their social structures. Let your dog take dominance and let it place itself at the top of the pets' hierarchy, but respect and assist your cat's territoriality by providing it with a space of its own that isn't regularly invaded by the dog.

5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along - Respect the behaviors of each species

Introduce the animals properly

It doesn't matter if the new pet is a cat or dog; the animal that already lives in the home needs to get to know it properly, and takes priority in this process.

Introducing two animals who will live together is a very important moment, and you should try to prevent them from getting overexcited. We recommend making sure that that your current resident pet has had food, drink and is tired out from walking or playing games before it meets its new companion. This will reduce its territorial instinct.

What should I do to introduce the cat and the dog properly?

  1. Don't pick up the cat in your arms, as it could scratch you. Trim its nails so that it doesn't hurt the dog if something goes badly in the first meeting.

  2. Keep both pets on a lead - by doing so, you can prevent them from hurting each other.

  3. Bring them together slowly without forcing their proximity. Let them look at and smell each other, and observe their behavior.

  4. If the behavior is correct and both pets are calm, you can let them interact with each other and reward them both with treats.

  5. If, on the other hand, the behavior is aggressive, the dog tries to chase the cat or the cat tries to scratch the dog, you need to firmly tell them "no".
    Move the pets into separate rooms without taking the lead off either of them, and repeat the process until both pets can be relaxed in the same room.

How do I get both pets to relax?

If the meeting was very negative and both pets are restless and nervous regarding the presence of the other, you will need to work with both of them. Ask for help from a relative or friend in this reconciliation process.

Go to a wide and spacious room, if possible, and bring the beds of both pets together. Leave the doors open so that they don't feel anxious about being locked up and, with the help of the other person, get both pets to relax. One option is to do exercises with the dog while your family member plays games with the cat, for example.

Work with both pets, distracting them and making them feel comfortable. One option is to play soft music so create a pleasant atmosphere as you stroke them. Keep trying to bring them together until their behavior is respectful or at least they ignore one another. If this behavior isn't possible yet, keep the dog and the cat in separate rooms. Do the same relaxing exercises with open doors so that they at least can get used to the other's presence and smell. If you find the work tedious or are getting really bad results, go to a dog trainer.

Start their cohabitation from when they are young

Cats and dogs living together isn't always a troublesome situation; in fact, it is often the opposite. Encouraging both pets to learn tricks and commands and rewarding them whenever they behave correctly to one another is fundamental. Positive reinforcement is a great way to help a cat and a dog get along.

Ensure that their training is positive from day 1 of their cohabitation; humankind has been domesticating animals for ages, but it can take a long time to get these two animals, who can be so aggressive in the wild, to live in peace and harmony. Work on their domestication simultaneously and train them together. Make your house a happy home for both animals.

5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along - Start their cohabitation from when they are young

Feed them in separate areas

Don't forget that both dogs and cats are predators. This means that it is very easy for them to start fighting over food, which could end up in a bite or the swipe of a claw. To prevent your cat and your dog from fighting, make sure each pet can eat in its own separate space without feeling threatened. As time goes on, and if they grow to like each other, you won't need to separate them.

You also shouldn't let them eat each other's food; make them agree to respect each other's food, at least when you are present.

5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along - Feed them in separate areas

Toys for all

While it may seem an obvious piece of advice, it's important to stress this point because it is more useful than it might seem. Jealousy and resentment over attention, toys and treats can lead to the fast deterioration of a relationship between a dog and a cat.

Dogs are naturally social creatures, while cats have a keener predatory instinct. These very different behavioral traits are eased by the use of toys, which channel the cat's hunting instinct and stop it from exhibiting predatory behaviors, safely externalizing their natural instincts. On the other hand, the dog will view the toy as something that it owns, which will make it feel safe and loved.

Give both your cat and your dog various toys of different colors and shapes; they especially appreciate toys that make noise. The two animals will love their toys, and they will provide them with a genuine distraction when you're not around, preventing them from bothering each other.

5 Tips to Help a Cat and a Dog Live Together and Get Along - Toys for all

These are our 5 tips to help a cat and a dog live together and get along. What do you recommend? Tell us all in the comments section!

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