Keeping The Peace Between Cats and Dogs

It probably won’t be a surprise to learn that the top pet choices in the United States are dogs and cats. While Fluffy and Fido have had a pretty rocky relationship, the two can coexist peacefully together. They also sometimes reach a truce and just ignore each other. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes they fight like, well, cats and dogs. In this article, a Bel Air, MD veterinarian offers expert advice on maintaining harmony between Fido and Fluffy.


Why Does My Cat Hate My Dog?


As a general rule, cats are creatures of habit. They usually adjust to significant changes slowly. Fluffy may need a year to get used to her new roommate. Of course, this varies. A kitty that has always been an only pet and/or had a bad experience with another dog is going to be a much harder sell than one who has lived peacefully with Fido before. 


Sometimes it’s just a matter of not speaking the same language. Dogs and cats have different social structures and communication styles, which can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. Dogs often express themselves through body language and are pack-oriented, while cats are more solitary and use subtle cues. Recognizing these differences is the first step to creating a harmonious environment for both.


Fido And Fluffy: Can They Ever Get Along?


There’s no hard yes or no answer to this one: it ultimately depends on both pets’ ages, temperaments, sizes, and histories. Even if your pets are a great match, they may not get along right away. Our canine and feline friends are often wary of each other at first.


Fido’s age, size, breed, and temperament play critical roles here. Despite the fact that cats can inflict damage with their sharp claws and teeth, kittens are generally at much greater risk. 


Prey drive is the biggest concern here. Some dogs are just hardwired to chase small animals. The urge to do so is a natural instinct that even the best training might not overcome.  Cats can sometimes trigger that or prey drive. This can make for a very dangerous situation.


That said,  here are some tips:

Make The Right Match: If you are adopting a shelter dog, make sure Fido has been evaluated as good with cats. If you are adopting a puppy, avoid breeds that have a strong prey drive. Ideally, both pets should be calm and friendly. You’ll have a better chance of success if both of your pets are couch potatoes. Even though Fido is usually the more significant threat, Fluffy can and does pick fights with her furry roommate.

Age also matters. Fido is sometimes more accepting of a kitten. Some dogs are remarkably tolerant of little Fluffy pouncing on their tails or stealing their beds! 

Just put safety first. Don’t go forward if you know or suspect that Fido may attack or harm your cat.

Provide Retreats: Ensure that each pet has its own designated space where they can retreat and feel safe. Cats often appreciate high perches or hiding spots, while dogs may prefer cozy beds.

Train Your Dog: Make sure Fido knows and obeys basic commands such as Sit, Stay, Come, and Lay Down. Ask your vet for advice on how to incorporate ‘Leave The Kitty Alone’ into Fido’s training routine. 

Take Care When Feeding:  Pets can get very protective and possessive over their food bowls, and who can blame them? Feeding Fluffy in an area Fido can’t reach can help.

Positive Reinforcement: Reward good behavior with treats and affection. When your dog or cat displays calm and non-threatening behavior around the other, acknowledge and reward them. Positive reinforcement can help create positive associations!

Burn Off Excess Energy: Make sure that both of your pets are getting adequate exercise and playtime.  (Note: Cat toys can be choking hazards for dogs, so we recommend keeping Fluffy’s toys away from Fido.)

Consult Your Vet: Don’t be afraid to ask your  Bel Air, MD for advice. We’re here to help! 


What Can I Do To Stop My Cat And Dog From Fighting?


If Fido and Fluffy are tussling, the first thing to do is separate them. If your dog is the instigator, reprimand him verbally, but don’t do anything that would scare him. That could just make matters worse. Fido may start associating the cat with punishment, which will make him dislike her even more.


After you’ve separated your pets, go back to square one and reintroduce them. Don’t be afraid to ask your Bel Air, MD veterinarian for advice. We are here to help!


What Is The Best Way To Keep A Cat Safe From A Dog?


As previously mentioned, the top priority is selecting a secure dog. A dog with strong prey drive may not be a bad dog, but is not the right pet for a house with cats. 


That being said, it is crucial to provide Fluffy with designated areas that she can escape to. A cat tower featuring a closed-off upper level is a suitable choice. Alternatively, you could create a small cat door in the entrance of an extra bedroom or section of the house. Other possibilities include kitty condos, cat shelves, or secluded spaces under or behind furniture. Just remember to ensure that your feline companion can access food, water, and a litterbox without having to encounter her roommate.


How Do You Introduce Fluffy And Fido?


Don’t just throw Fluffy and Fido in a room together and hope for the best. Be patient: it can be pretty hard to reverse or undo the damage caused by a bad first meeting. When introducing a new pet to your household, allow for a controlled and slow introduction. This process may take days or even weeks.


Set up the newer pet in a separate room at first. Provide all necessities, such as food, water, toys, and bedding, and give them a few days to adjust to their new home. Feed your pets on opposite sides of the door to help them get used to each other’s scents.


Fido and Fluffy need to have accepted the fact that there is another pet in town before you can safely introduce them. Do this carefully. For example, you can bring your cat into the living room in a carrier. Or you can let them meet through a baby gate. By putting a barrier up, you’ll give them a way to observe each other without direct contact. This can help by gradually reducing anxiety.


Next, you can let them meet face-to-face. Keep Fido leashed for this interaction. Watch how they behave. It is normal for them to be excited at this point. However, if they fight, separate them and start over.


If the introduction process proves extremely challenging, seek professional guidance from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.


How Do I Deal With a Dog and Cat That Don’t Get Along?


The safety of your furry companions is the most important thing. Sometimes Fido and Fluffy just won’t ever become friends, even if you take all the right precautions and do your best to ensure compatibility. Although rehoming a pet should always be a last resort, it is better to find a new home for one of the pets than to risk one of them being injured.


Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? We can help! Contact your Bel Air, MD pet hospital today!


Comments are closed.