My Cat Hates My Dog, What Can I Do?
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Is your cat hissing and attacking your dog? Getting a cat and a dog to be friends can be tricky at first, but it isn't impossible. In this AnimalWised article, we're going to explain what you can do to help if your cat hates your dog.
Can a cat and a dog get along?
Despite the reputation these two species have with one another, cats and dogs can get along. In some households they are very friendly and affectionate with each other, whereas in others they may simply tolerate each other's present in the house. This will all depend on a couple of factors, such as:
- If adequate socialization has been done during the puppy stage.
- Give them adequate time for adaptation and acceptance.
- Establish clear coexistence guidelines.
- Provide a suitable environment for both.
As we will see below, when any of these points or multiple of them lack, a bad relationship can arise between both species that will make it difficult to coexist harmoniously at home. Learn more in our article about tips to make a dog and a cat get along.
Why does your cat hate your dog?
Both cats and dogs are sociable animals, which have an innate tendency to create bonds of friendship and belonging to a group. However, this will depend on certain factors, as we've mentioned before.
In some households the cat and dog will be very friendly and affectionate with each other, whereas in another household they can simply tolerate each other's existence. If your cat seems to hate your dog, we first need to understand what the root of the problem can be. Let's take a look at the most common reasons a cat won't accept a dog into their home:
They didn't socialise with dogs as a kitten
One of the most important periods of a cat's life is when they are a kitten. This is when they start socialising with their mother and siblings, start weaning off and eating solid food, playing, etc. However, one of the most important things that they learn at this young age is socialization.
By being presented different people, places and animals, cats feel more calm and have a more balanced temper as an adult. If your cat never socialized with a dog in their early stages in life, it will be more difficult for them to socialize with them now as they seem as something very new and maybe even a threat to their family and household.
They had a bad experience with a dog
Another common reason a cat may hate and reject a dog is due to a previous bad experience with a dog. With that bad experience, your cat probably associated dogs with something negative and dangerous. They are traumatised by a past experience and are being extra careful so it doesn't occur again.
They are protecting their territory and family
Cats are animals that enjoy routine and their community. This is why they are going to defend their territory, family and lifestyle from something that can threaten that, such as a new pet in the household.
Whether your cat is protecting their favourite area on the couch, time with you, their toys, or their food, it is evident that you cat is uncomfortable with the new situation and what it can mean in terms of their territory, family and routine.
The introduction was too quick
When introducing a cat to a dog, one must be very careful. If the introduction was too quick and confrontational, this will make your cat react very badly. This abrupt change in their life can make them react extremely bad. It's always better to ease your cat into the new change in their lives. After all, they are animals of habit and routine lovers, they deserve at least a heads-up.
To do this, it's best to introduce them slowly and in a way that would make sense according to the senses, behaviour and preferences of these animals. Continue reading to learn how to introduce these two animals in a safe and effective way.
How to get a cat to accept a dog
If your cat openly rejects your dog, growls, hisses or even attacks him, it may be due to how you've presented them to one another. The best way is to do it progressively. Follow our instructions on how to introduce a dog to a cat correctly:
Prepare before the arrival
Any sudden change will make your cat feel insecure and develop stress. It is for this reason that you should prepare your home before bringing the dog home so that your cat can adapt in advance. This implies:
- Make sure they both have their own individual space where they can go to relax and know that they will be alone and safe. Cats often enjoy high places where they can monitor the environment and no one can reach.
- Each of your pets should also have their own food and water bowls. They should not be close to each other as it can make them feel paranoid and lead them to attack the other pet.
- Your cat's litter box needs to be in a place that your dog cannot access. This is not only to help your cat feel relaxed and safe but also for health reasons.
- Prepare an area, such as the living room, or a spare room where your dog will be the first days once he arrives. This is very important for both your dog, who will be getting used to their new home, and your cat who will be getting used to the new member of the household.
- Remember to thoroughly clean your house so there aren't too many odours. Both dogs and cats have a higher sense of smell than humans.
Toy or blanket exchange
Once your dog has arrived and is in their destined area, we should take a step into introducing them to our cat. To do this slowly and progressively, we're going to use the dog's odour to let our cat know that there is a new member of the family in the household.
To do this, simply exchange blankets or toys. Give your cat a toy your dog was using and do the same with your dog so they can also get to know the odour of your cat.
Now it's time for them to see each other from a distance. We need them both to learn about each other while still feeling safe. The area in which they meet should also be neutral territory, in other words, it cannot be in your dog's private area nor your cat's. This way we assure ourselves that both will feel calm and can leave if they feel uncomfortable.
To do this, first you'll need to choose where to do this. It can be a neutral area in the living room, kitchen or garden. Your cat may prefer to be in an elevated surface. You can also put a doggy fence between them to make sure they simply observe each other but do not touch or attack each other.
You can also offer them both a treat when presenting them to one another so they can be more calm and associate each other with something positive. Remember to allow them to leave if they feel uncomfortable. By scolding them or forcing them to be together you will only make them associate each other with something negative and it will be more difficult to get them used to each other.
Repeat this step various times while exchanging toys for a while before you move into the next step. You can also start shortening the distance the separates them when they interact and observe each other.
Once you think they're ready, it's time allow them to meet in person with no obstacles in the way so they can sniff each other. Your cat may not be ready and may get frightened or even hiss at the dog, especially if they haven't met a dog like this before. It's completely normal. Simply make sure no one attacks the other pet and allow them to leave and go to their private area where they feel safe.
Now it's simply a question of time. They've met each other and know they live together. They have their own territory where they can relax without worrying that the other pet will come. Therefore, now we must simply make sure both pets have their needs met and try to create a positive energy in the household so they can get used to each other.
Let them loose
After a couple of weeks they should be ready to live in peace. Now you can allow them to roam the house or apartment without restrictions. They may go to each other's territory to sniff and inspect, this is normal and you shouldn't worry. In fact, it's a step forward as they're getting used to each other's scent and learning that each one has their own territory where they can go relax.
This is the last step, so you'll be able to feed them in the kitchen together (but keep their bowls in different areas of the kitchen) and relax together in the living room. You can also give them a little treat whenever they are behaving whilst in the same room together.
Lastly, we leave you with some other tips that can help your cat get along with your dog:
- Make sure your cat has their own private area
- Keep the dog in their own area for a while
- Try to keep their everyday routine as closely as possible as it was before
- Don't forget to give them enough love and attention as you did before
- Give them space and time to get used to the new dynamic in the house.
Once they realise that the dog is not a threat, that their needs are still being met and that their territory is being respected, they will become more relaxed and may even begin being friendly towards the dog.
If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Hates My Dog, What Can I Do?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.