To prevent your cats and dogs from fighting like, well, cats and dogs, you could try the following suggestions…
Give your animals their own space
Cats are extremely territorial, and need to feel comfortable before a dog comes along. So if you are able to, perhaps if you have a cat and are introducing a new dog to the home, try to make sure that your cat has plenty of space to call its own.
Cats should have access to hiding places where they can get away from dogs whenever they need to. This can be an extra room, which is closed off with a baby gate, or a few empty bookshelves, a windowsill, or even a ‘cat tree’. By giving the cat a feeling of security, you can reduce the chances of confrontation between your pets.
By the same token, make sure that you respect your dog and its habits. If he is used to ruling the roost, it may be hard for him to accept a new friend. But, as the owner, it is up to you to create a safe haven in which both animals can co-exist, and a safe space for each of the animals.
Perhaps they can sleep in different rooms, and have different rooms to spend their time in, with cat and dog specific toys and activities.
The majority of dogs do well when sharing a home with cats, but remember that some breeds have predatory instincts that will drive them to chase anything that moves. These include terriers, pit bulls, and most hunting dog breeds. These dogs can be taught to respect cats, but the process will be harder and with fewer chances of quick success.
Buy them young
The best strategy is to have dogs and cats that grow up together, and start life at home at the same time. If you introduce them to each other at an early age, they are more likely to accept each other. Failing that, your next best option is to bring a dog into a cat’s household.
As the person in charge, make sure that you take your time introducing your pets to each other. For each meeting, be sure that both animals are protected from harm, and with patience and consistent work, you will eventually help them to live in harmony.
How can you handle the first meeting?
The best way to introduce dog and cat to each other is to have the animals meet in the same room together. It might be a good idea to have both pets on a leash, to allow the owner to easily restrain the animals in case one or both become angry and hostile toward each other.
Choose a neutral place, so that if one of your pets has been a long-term resident, of the garden or kitchen, for example, they will not act in a territorial manner, and take offence to another animal’s encroachment on their turf.
Don’t be discouraged if the first meeting doesn’t go well, but plan for similar meetings several times over a week or two. When both of the animals are convinced the other won’t pose a threat, they are more likely to relax and approach each other.
Test the water before buying...
You might like to try having your dog or cat socialise around a friend or neighbour’s cats or dogs. If it goes well, it may well boost the success of one day bringing home a new pet.