We all know the saying, but no one in your house has to fight like cats and dogs – least of all the cat and dog! And really, is there anything cuter than interspecies friendships? Just think of all the photo ops if you could just help you fur friends get friendly.
Are you looking to turn your cat and dog household into a merry menagerie? These 5 peacekeeping strategies will help you extend the olive branch.
1. Cordon off cat-only sanctuaries.
For an evolving fur family, personal space can do wonders when making new introductions. This goes double for cats. Make sure the felines of the fam have safe spaces they can escape to. If you don’t have the square footage to give them an entire room, consider setting up a cat tree or clear off a window ledge they can run to for cover. Not only will it help create some built-in boundaries for your cat, but it’ll also reinforce them for your dog. You can also use baby gates to help your pup navigate the neutral ground. It’s a good idea to place them around litter boxes, too. This way Fluffy can do her business uninterrupted without Fido trying to use it as a snack bar.
2. Supervise all socialization.
Steadily socializing your pets will fast-track the friendship. The trick is to set everyone up for success by overseeing each initial interaction. We like the idea of keeping dogs on a leash for the first few intros. It’ll help you redirect appropriately while prioritizing your cat’s safety.
When you’re not home, best to keep one-half of the future fur friends in their crates or in separate rooms altogether. When you do make a premeditated introduction, ask a human helper to co-facilitate the meet and greet. Having extra hands on deck will make sure everyone gets plenty of comforting reassurance and can help break up any unexpected snafus.
3. Reinforce the positive.
As hard as it is to watch, sometimes a warning scratch or quick quarrel is exactly what cats and dogs need to act out in order to establish a pecking order. What you don’t want is to allow your cat to be chased. Instead, try continuously rewarding calm interactions.
The more your dog can learn to control its instincts and behavior, the more peaceful your household will be. The goal is for cat and dog to rest quietly next to one another without either showing signs of excitement or distress. When that happens, remember that calm begets calm, so treats and affection should be administered in a similar fashion.
4. Familiarize during feedings.
Both animals are likely to be concentrated at meal times. Use this to your advantage by helping everyone get a little more familiar over dinner. Start by feeding pets on opposite sides of the same door.
You can work your way up to feeding them in separate, closed crates and carriers that face one another. If size permits, you might also consider switching kennels on occasion so they become more adjusted to the other’s scent. You can also simply switch their bedding and blankets to help everyone acclimatize.
5. Consider contacting a professional.
Sometimes, your existing fur family may put up a front. If you’re all having trouble cohabitating, there’s no shame in calling in some backup. Animal trainers are skilled at showing owners ways they might be unintentionally reinforcing certain behaviors. They can also help if you have any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of either animal.
Keep in mind that great friendships are built over time, so don’t be surprised if it takes your cat and dog awhile to truly bond. Though friends at first sight is entirely possible, too! However long they need, remain patient and consistent to help them become friends fur-ever.