Cats and dogs have long been stereotyped as enemies, however this isn’t always the case, many households have both cats and dogs that get along, or at least tolerate each other! If you’re looking to have a canine and feline family there’s a couple of things to think about, personality is key! All animals have their own unique personality and making sure your cat and dog are compatible is key, if you have a playful puppy and a nervous kitten they’re more likely to conflict than two more relaxed pets for example. If you’re wanting to introduce a new pet to your household or already have a cat and dog but would like tips on how to help them to bond, then keep reading for all of our tips and tricks for creating that life long bond!
1. Swap Scents
When it comes to introducing pets to each other it’s all about scent, familiar smells can really help settle a pet which is why many new pet owners will have a blanket with Mum’s scent on when bringing home a puppy or kitten to help settle them in those first few days. Similarly, to help your dog and cat adjust to each other before meeting, it’s a good idea to swap their blankets so they can become somewhat familiar with each other before meeting. Our scent blankets are great for this, they come in a range of fabrics and are the perfect size to act as a comforter for your new puppy or kitten.
2. Cat Territory
Cats love having their own space, whether there’s a dog in the house or not. Making sure your cat has a dedicated space they can retreat to is key to making a multi pet house hold harmonious. Cats love to climb and hide, investing in a tall cat tree will give them their own space to watch everything from a distance.
Keeping their food, water and litter tray away from your dog is also a good idea. It means they can go about their business in peace without your dog distracting them or trying to play with them.
Dog gates and play pens are also perfect for sectioning off areas to give your cat their own space when you’re first introducing your pets.
3. Raise Them Together
If you can raising your cat and dog together as kitten and puppies is a great idea, the socialisation period whilst their young is such a great time to introduce them as they’re not stuck in their ways yet and they pick up and adapt to things so quickly. Also puppies are both less confident and smaller than a dog, this makes them less intimidating to a cat and easier to get used to.
4. The First Meet
Making a great first impression is key, so planning your cat and dogs first meet is important. Our pet experts recommend keeping them separate for the first few days before introducing them, this allows them to get used to each others smell which can really help make their first meeting a lot smoother. Food is a great way to help them get along, giving them each their food on opposite sides of a door so they can smell each other whilst eating will help them form positive associations with each others smell. If you can do this for a few days, alternating the room so they can both get to know each other scents. A gradual introduction like this is such a good way to build a positive bond and gives them both time to adjust.
5. Make Sure Your Cat Is Relaxed
Your cat will really set the tone for that first introduction so making sure they’re relaxed is so important. Have your cat in your arms whilst somebody else brings your dogs on their leash into the room. It’s important to have your dog on their leash as their natural instinct will be to run up to your cat which may scare them. Gradually bring them closer together and keep your eye on how they’re acting. Go step by step and allow them to both settle each time before moving any closer.
6. Make Equal Time For Them Both
Pets can easily get jealous so make sure you’re giving them both the same amount of time and affection whilst introducing them should help minimise this.
7. Separate them
After they’ve first met it’s important to separate them again, even if it went well you don’t want to push your luck. Introducing them should be a gradual process with several of these short but sweet meetings, which gradually get longer as they become more familiar with each other.
8. Let Your Cat Loose First
Once they’re comfortable and settled in each others presence, try giving your cat the freedom to roam with your dog still on their leash. As cats are usually the smaller one out of them both it’s important for them to feel as comfortable and safe as possible. This will give them chance to explore and get used to your dog at their own pace. Once your cat is comfortable you can then let your dog off their leash as well, keeping a close eye on them. The slow socialisation period will hopefully have paid off and made them both feel safe and comfortable round each other.
9. Train Your Dog
Teaching your dog boundaries and commands such as leave, on your bed and sit will make the introduction process a lot smoother.
10. Exercise Your Dog - both physically and mentally!
Making sure your dog is well exercised both mentally and physically is key, this will help lower their energy levels to a point your cat can tolerate. Both walking and enrichment activities such as snuffle mats and brain stimulating toys will help your dog settle. Having plenty of toys to distract your dog with when they’re in a playful mood will help, it will give them something to focus on rather than wanting to play with your cat whilst they’re trying to have some alone time.
11. Keep Their Things Separate
Dogs can be territorial over their food so keeping them separate whilst eating is a good idea. Cats like to be high so you could try putting their bowl on a table whilst your dog is on the floor for instance, or if you have the space different rooms is also a good option.
12. Separate Them When You’re Out
Until they’re completely comfortable with each other we recommend separating your cat and dog whilst you’re out, so putting one upstairs and one downstairs for example.
13. Don’t scold your dog
With our own dogs, here at L&L we’ve all used a form of positive reward based training. So when your dog is getting playful with your cat we recommend redirecting this energy rather than telling them off, showing them that there’s a right place and time to be playful other than discipling them for being playful. Discipling them can lead them to have negative associations with your cat and lead to your cat and dog to not getting along.
14. Praise the good behaviour
On the flip side you should praise all positive behaviour from your dog towards the cat in the beginning, giving them some fuss and a treat to help them have a positive association with your cat.
15. Remember every pet is different
As we mentioned at the beginning, all pets have their own personalities and characteristics, so just give it time and some patience whilst they get used to each other!