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Can Cats And Dogs Get Along?

February 15, 2024

Fido and Fluffy are by far the most popular pets here in the U.S. Many people prefer one or the other, but there are also plenty of households that have both. Sometimes cats and dogs can become playmates and napping buddies. Other times? Not so much. Unfortunately, our canine and feline companions do not always live together harmoniously. A local Oconomowoc, WI veterinarian answers some questions on keeping the peace in this article.

Will My Cat And Dog Ever Learn To Get Along?

That question cannot be answered in a general way: it depends on the pets’ ages, temperaments, sizes, and histories.

Even if you make a perfect match, it can take up to a year for pets to become accustomed to a new roommate. Pets are creatures of habit. If your feline buddy is used to being around dogs, or vice versa, it may not take that long.

It’s important to realize that cats and dogs don’t speak the same language, and they don’t have the same needs. Fido needs lots of walks, and will also need grooming and training. Cats are more independent, but they do have a few requisites: litterboxes, comfy beds, hiding spots, and toys. Both need your love and attention. 

Pay equal attention to both pets, and reward them when they are behaving calmly around each other. This can help with forming positive associations. 

Because many cat toys can be choking hazards for dogs, you’ll want to keep Fluffy’s toys out of reach of Fido so they can’t choke on them.

Ask your Oconomowoc, WI vet for more advice on this. 

What Do I Do If My Cat And Dog Fight?

The first thing to do is separate them. Then, go back to square one and reintroduce them.

Do not yell or strike your dog if he’s gone after your cat. This may make matters worse. Fido may start associating the cat with punishment, which will make him dislike her even more.

Should I Have Both A Dog And A Cat?

Fido’s age, size, and temperament all play crucial roles here. Breed is also a factor. Some dogs have a natural prey drive. Many dogs survive by hunting small animals in the wild. There are also many breeds that were traditionally used for hunting. Those instincts are pretty deeply ingrained. Unfortunately, they can sometimes be triggered by cats. Needless to say, that can make for a very dangerous situation.

Fluffy isn’t always innocent here: sometimes cats are the ones causing trouble. Those claws and teeth can do damage. However, since the dog is usually larger, the kitties are typically the ones in danger.

What Can I Do To Keep My Cat Safe From My Dog?

Firstly, you need to give Fluffy a few places to retreat to, spots where Fido cannot reach her. Vertical space is a great option for this. A cat tower with an enclosed upper level is a good option. You can also use kitty condos or cat shelves. Just make sure Fluffy can get to her food, water, and litterbox without having to come in contact with Fido.

What Is The Best Way To Introduce Fluffy To Fido?

Don’t rush things here. This is one area where slow and steady wins the race. First impressions are very important to our canine and feline buddies. It can be difficult to reverse or undo the damage done by a bad first meeting.

Don’t put Fluffy and Fido into the same room right off the bat. You need to ease them into things. Put them in separate areas at first. Initially, the newer pet should be kept in a separate area. You should provide all of the necessities: food, water, toys, bedding—and visit frequently, but allow them a few days to adjust. (This also just helps the newcomer adjust to their new surroundings.) 

Over the next few days, you’ll likely see your pets sniffing around the door, and getting to know each other’s scents. Feed them close to the door to the newbie’s room to help form ‘pawsitive’ associations.

Once both pets have accepted that there is another furball in town, you can let them meet. Take this slowly. You could put your cat in a carrier and take her into the living room. Or, let them meet through a baby gate. If all goes well here, let them meet face-to-face. Keep Fido leashed during this interaction.

Keep in mind that when you first introduce Fido and Fluffy, they may seem wary and uneasy, but that’s normal. Pay attention to how they behave. It’s normal for them to be a bit excited at first. That should gradually fade away. If they fight, separate them and start over.

How Do You Help Cats And Dogs Get Along?

Yes, they can, but there’s a caveat here. You’ll need to make the right match. Not all dogs are cat friendly, and not all cats can peacefully live with dogs.

Finding Fido: Are you planning to adopt a shelter dog? look for one that has been evaluated as good with cats. Adopting a puppy? Avoid breeds that have a strong prey drive.

Make The Right Match: Look for pets with similar personalities. If both of your pets are couch potatoes, or young and playful, you’ll have a better chance of success.

Don’t Underestimate Your Cat: While Fido is usually the bigger threat, Fluffy can- and does- pick fights with her furry roommate. In fact, sometimes the cat is the bully of the two!

Don’t Skip Petucation: Your dog’s training is also important. Make sure Fido knows and obeys basic commands, such as Sit, Stay, Come, and Lay Down.

Take Care When Feeding: Food can be a source of contention. You may need to take a few steps to make things go smoothly. For instance, feeding Fluffy in a place Fido cannot reach can help.

Consult your Oconomowoc, WI veterinarians for more information. 

If Your Dog And Cat Don’t Get Along, What Should You Do?

There are instances where you can take every necessary step, from choosing the perfect pooch to gradually acquainting your pets and providing for their needs, yet still face issues with pet compatibility. In these situations, the safety of your beloved furry companion should be prioritized above all else. Separating them may be a viable solution in certain cases; for example, if you have a two story home, you could consider granting Fluffy exclusive access to the upstairs while keeping Fido downstairs. You will just need to make sure neither feels lonely or isolated. 

However, in more serious cases, finding a new home for one of the pets may, unfortunately, be the only safe option. Although this should always be a last resort, it is better than risking harm to one of your cherished animal companions.

Conclusion: While dogs and cats do not always become friendly, you can help prevent friction by being careful and consistent with Fluffy and Fido. Be sure to provide each animal the spaces, toys, comfort, and attention they need, and ask your vet for advice if needed.

Contact us today if you have any questions about your cat’s health or care! As your Oconomowoc, WI animal clinic, we are dedicated to offering top-notch care.