Welcoming cats and dogs into your household can be a delightful experience of love, companionship, and out-of-the-ordinary fun moments. But raising both cats and dogs will come with challenges due to the different behaviors and personalities you can expect from both species. Dogs are often assumed to be sociable and active animals that love to be showered with affection—qualities that easily endear them to owners. Conversely, cat parents often love that felines are independent, relaxed, and capable of entertaining themselves.
Understanding your pets’ unique needs and navigating their often contrasting personalities is essential for maintaining a harmonious multi-pet household. Here are some things you can do to help your cats and dogs coexist under one roof—and even learn to enjoy each other’s company as much as you enjoy theirs:
Dispel the Notion That Cats and Dogs Can’t Get Along
Whenever the relationship between cats and dogs is portrayed in literature and popular media, these two are usually pitted against each other. In cartoons, for example, it’s common for dogs and cats to treat each other like mortal enemies. Such portrayals have led many people to believe that it’s simply impossible for dogs and cats to get along. If you grew up with such a myth for the longest time, you might already assume that raising cats and dogs under the same roof will be extremely difficult, if not a lost cause.
But a positive mindset and a willingness to let go of such a baseless myth are crucial to raising these animals together. The challenges are about the same as keeping an all-dog or all-cat household in the sense that two pets of the same species will also need to adjust to each other’s characters. The key is to assert yourself and train your pets to see you as their leader and chief caretaker. When your cats and dogs know who’s in control, they’ll place more trust in you and be more responsive to your commands—especially regarding how they should behave around each other.
Introduce Them Properly
Whether you have an existing furry friend and want to introduce a new cat or dog into your home or welcome both cats and dogs into your household for the first time, introducing them to each other requires careful planning. It’s important to hold the introductions in a controlled environment where neither pet feels cornered. The environment must also have a calm atmosphere so they can comfortably familiarize themselves with each other’s scent.
Make sure that their introductions are done gradually and aren’t forced. Always supervise these early interactions, and prepare to be very patient about getting the result you want. Just like humans or animals of the same species, it may take time for a cat and a dog to adjust to each other’s presence.
If your pets aren’t fond of meeting each other face-to-face, you can use items like their favorite toy or blanket to make them more familiar with the other’s scent. For example, you can place your cat’s mouse toy near your dog stainless steel bowls and put your dog’s blanket by your cat’s bed. Over time, your pets will recognize each other’s smell and feel less like strangers around each other when they actually meet for prolonged periods.
Create a Comfortable Environment for Each of Your Pets
To ensure that your pets understand and respect each other’s boundaries, they must have their own space and resources. Providing your pets with beds and toys and a dedicated place to feel secure reduces competition and potential conflict.
You should also consider feeding your pets separately to prevent them from eating each other’s food. It will benefit dogs to have their bowls placed in a specific area where they can be undisturbed. Conversely, cats prefer having their food and water bowls kept in two locations where dogs can’t quickly go.
Employ Species-Appropriate Obedience and Behavioral Training Techniques
Training plays a significant role in managing a multi-pet household. Dogs can be trained to respect a cat’s space and refrain from chasing them. Though more independent, cats can be guided to be more tolerant of dogs’ mannerisms and respect their space. For both species, it’s recommended to use positive reinforcement techniques like using treats to reward good behaviors.
Some helpful commands you can teach your dog include “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.” Such commands will prevent them from acting impulsively around cats and give you the power to disengage them should they show interest in pestering your feline.
Your cat, on the other hand, can be taught to retreat to the dedicated spaces around your home. Areas like the tops of cat trees and wall-mounted cat shelves make excellent escape routes for felines because it’ll be difficult for dogs to get them. Having a haven within your home’s vertical spaces will allow them to learn how to retreat and prevent them from damaging your home furniture.
Mastering a household with cats and dogs in it may seem daunting, but it is entirely achievable with patience, understanding, and time. Don’t hesitate to seek the advice of animal experts, like trainers and veterinarians, for additional tips on raising dogs and cats together. Moreover, don’t give up on letting your pets of both species know how much you care about them and how dedicated you are to meeting their needs.
Many happy pet owners who’ve worked to raise cats and dogs under one roof report peaceful coexistence between canines and felines. In some multi-pet households, the dogs and the cats grow inseparable and are used to seeing each other like family members. It’ll be worth seeing such wholesome interactions between these two species, and you’ll be sure to create many happy family memories together.
Use the tips above to meet both your cats’ and dogs’ needs and promote positive interactions between the two. Again, with your commitment to fostering a comfortable environment for pups and kitties, they’ll thrive together and learn that each other’s presence—as well as yours—means home.