What animal lover hasn’t been mesmerized by YouTube or Insta videos of cats and dogs enjoying each other’s company? It’s the “aww” factor we’d all love to invoke if our household is home to both species. But are those who’ve found social media fame just the lucky few, or is this a balance that anyone with a few helpful pointers can strike?
At Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care, we love hearing stories about cats and dogs happily cohabitating, and we’re here with useful tips plus professional behavioral training to help you create multi-species harmony in your home.
First Impressions Matter
First introductions between cats and dogs should be handled slowly and methodically — and the younger they are, the better. Try these tips from Animal Humane Society:
- Keep the cat and dog in separate rooms for the first 3-4 days to give them time to smell and hear one another.
- Feed them at the same time on opposite sides of a closed door. Do this until they seem completely calm when they eat.
- Host their first meeting in a neutral area. Keep the dog leashed but allow the cat to roam freely. Do not hold your pets, and do not force them to interact.
- Repeat these supervised sessions on a regular basis. Read your dog’s body language, and end the playdate before the cat or dog shows signs of aggression or stress.
How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Get Used to a Cat?
Some pets simply hit it off from the start, while others need more time. Each animal is an individual, with her own personality, fears, and comfort level with other pets. Allow the socialization process to unfold naturally—it may take two to three weeks. If their personalities clash, seek help from a trainer or behavioral specialist as soon as possible. You don’t want aggressive or fearful behavior to become habits. And remember, sometimes success comes in the form of tolerance!
How to Introduce a Scared Cat to a Dog
Felines prone to anxiety and cats that weren’t raised with dogs may find it extremely difficult to get used to a new dog. To make the process as stress-free as possible, follow the four steps outlined above, but take it very slowly, making sure both cat and dog are calm before moving on to the next step. You may need to use baby gates to keep your pets separated longer, while giving them time to get used to seeing one another. Keep initial interactions short, and reward your pets with special treats for calm behavior.
It may take time, but we believe cats and dogs can live in harmony — or at least, live in tolerance! Contact us for more tips on creating safe meet-and-greets for your pets.