Can Cats and Dogs Get Along?
Fighting like cats and dogs is a common expression, but believe it or not, cats and dogs can also get along very well, sometimes even better than cats with other cats.
Sometimes a cat and dog will get along with each other right away, particularly if they are both young, but otherwise it could take a few weeks or months for a cat to get used to having a dog around.
Take things slowly, especially during the introduction period. Provide a safe are for the cat where the dog cannot get her, and always make sure that the cat feels safe.
Move the cat's bed, food, water and litter box to the safe area for the cat, and know that the introduction of a new dog will be upsetting to the cat at first. Maybe baby gates or stair gates could help keeping them separate until they smell each other and get used to each other.
Both animals need to see each other as family, so coax and pet and praise each of them as they react appropriately without fear. Treats for each may help.
A cat can escape to a cat perch or a cat wall and look down on a dog if she decides she has had enough of the canine.
Kittens are more vulnerable to harm because of their size and are maybe more likely to get a dog excitable. Let the kitten meet the dog slowly with care, and always keep an eye out on them. Keep a blanket on hand to cover or scoop up one or the other if things seem like they are about to get rough. Growling, hissing and barking may erupt, but that is part of their testing each other.
Because cats and dogs both depend a lot on smell, their scents are an important part of communication. You can introduce the cat and dog to each other even before the animal comes to the house by exchanging bedding between the pets and let them get to know a bit about each other even before their meeting.
Keep the animals separate at first. Pet each of the pets by stroking without washing your hands between to mix their scents and let them realize the other is safe and a friend. Stroke them with a soft cloth and then dab it around the house and onto furniture that both of them will occupy so they also are familiar with the odor.
Make sure that the dog is not able to chase the cat, or vice versa. Even if the dog doesn't want to hurt the cat, she will feel threatened if the dog chases her and will want to attack or not go anywhere near the canine ever again.
Your cat will like to watch the dog and then decide whether to approach or not. Let them do it at her own time, because if you force it you may be the one getting scratched or bitten if they panic.
Keep the first meetings short at first and try to end each meeting on a positive note and with a treat and lots of hugging, petting and praise. If either dog or cat seems a bit scared, then keep them apart a bit and continue the scent swapping until both have more confidence to try another interaction.
Don't allow dogs to go after cat food, and it's easy to put the cat bowl higher or out of reach of a dog.
Some introductions can work out very well and very quickly, while others may take some time, but with some patience, you can have man's best friend become your cat's best friend, too.