• Dr Grant Hampson

Do Cats and Dogs Really Not Get Along?

Have you ever heard the phrase “they are fighting like cats and dogs?!” and wondered if that is actually true? Can I get a dog if I have a cat? Whilst we cannot pretend we are not biased towards cats, what we can do is put an end to the myth.


In the wild, our domestic cat and dog counterparts certainly don’t get along and could be considered “natural enemies” as they are competing for the same resources. However, whilst the natural instincts of each species may lean towards antagonistic interactions, back at home, cats and dogs can certainly get along with one another, and may even become best friends!


Interestingly, a recent study in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour surveyed 748 cat-and-dog households spanning all over Europe, the United States and Australia. More than 80% of pet owners said their pets got along well and only 3 percent of respondents said their pets couldn't share the same room.



How can I help my cat and dogs live together peacefully?

Cats tend to have a little bit more confidence when being introduced to dogs compared to meeting a new cat. The most important thing is to allow the cat to come to the dog in their own time rather than the other way around.


Never force a cat to interact with something new until they are ready. This is likely to create a negative association with the introduction rather than a positive one, making it more difficult going forwards. If you know your cat is going to struggle to get used to this interaction, certainly ask yourself if now is the right time to get a dog.


Start off by letting them smell each other. Cats and dogs communicate a lot through scent and you can start this smell-interaction before they even meet each other face to face. Stroke the cat and then stroke the dogs, and vice versa. After a little while, allow the cat to smell some of the dog's belongings before they are physically introduced and let the dog smell some of the cat's belongings. This will allow them to recognise each other's scent when meeting for the first time. If you can, allow them to eat their dinner on separate sides of the same door, so they can smell each other without having to see each other.


It’s a good idea to place your dog in a crate for the first interaction as this allows your cat to enter a room without being overwhelmed by the presence of the dog. Try to keep the dog calm, asking them to sit or lie down to keep them from frightening the cat.


Once they have interacted this way a couple of times, you can then move onto a lead and eventually allow them to interact with no restraint. The most important thing is to stay in control of each early interaction and to be present at each until you can ensure that they are both safe to be left alone.


Plenty of hiding places


Always make sure that your cat has room to hide and escape if they want to, as we all know dogs can sometimes be full of energy and you cats may need a break now and then.


Pheromones


We suggest investing in pheromone based products as they can be extremely useful for cats when they are settling into new situations. Feliway mimics the “happy” chemical that cats release when rubbing their face against corners, furniture, and people. This pheromone works on cats' brains to calm them down and help relieve stress and anxiety. Pet Remedy is a valerian based product and mimics the natural calming mechanisms present in cats.


Take each case individually


Remember, not all cats will get along with dogs and not all dogs will respond well to cats. Therefore each case must be assessed individually and with caution. Those that get to know each other from a kittenhood and puppyhood are much more likely to get along. Naturally, if you are thinking of having one of each, consider getting them together when they are still young. It is still important to supervise their interactions, as the puppy is going to be much bigger than the kitten and won’t realise it.


If you have any questions, please do get in touch at meow@katkin.com.

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Other posts you may find helpful:

  1. How to Help Your Cat Adjust to Your New Home

  2. Introducing Your Cat to Children

  3. Vaccines for Your Cat


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