This is an age-old question and one that is still as common today as it was 100 years ago. Can cats and dogs live happily in the same household? Can they share the same space without fighting?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Cats and dogs can share the same space. While they won’t always be best friends, they can learn to tolerate each other.
If you’re planning to introduce a cat to a dog or a dog to a cat, we have a few tips that can help.
As we have lived with cats and dogs in the same house for over 15 years, we have learned how to help them get along.
#1 Tip – Make sure there is no competition for resources
The best piece of advice we can offer is to make sure there is never competition for resources. That means no competition for food, water and a place to call their own.
More importantly, it means no competition for your affection either.
If each animal knows they have their own food, their own water, their own safe place to sleep and can get affection from you whenever they want it, there will be little need to fight.
We have a few other tips that can help too.
Introduce then on neutral ground
Much like humans, animals feel territorial over where they eat and sleep. Any first meeting between species should happen on neutral ground.
This will avoid aggression over territory or the feeling that one animal is encroaching on the other’s turf.
If one animal has a bedroom and the other the living room, use the kitchen. Use a room both animals know and are comfortable in but that isn’t their territory.
If you’re introducing one species to another that’s already established, take things slow.
Set aside separate places to eat, drink and toilet and give them both space. Set up a ‘meeting’ where you introduce one to the other briefly and then let them go their separate ways.
If one animal is curious about the other, allow them to sniff and explore. If the other gets uncomfortable, split them apart again and try again later or another day.
Use treats liberally
When you’re allowing cats and dogs to meet, you want to reinforce the positive association. That means liberal use of treats.
If both behave themselves, treat each of them with their own treat of choice. Alternate treating one animal first so there is no perceived hierarchy.
As you’ll know from training, treats and positive reinforcement help create a positive association with the command, the action and the outcome.
We can use that when introducing animals to each other.
Be aware of the breed
Some dogs find it harder to live with smaller, faster-moving animals than others.
Dogs with a high prey drive will have a harder time adapting to living with a cat than a dog with a lower prey drive.
Dogs such as terriers are notoriously challenging to teach that a cat isn’t prey to be chased. Breeds like Labradors or Alsatians can easily be trained to leave alone with training.
Some cats are naturally more territorial than others but this is often less to do with breed and more to do with personality.
You’ll have to figure that one out as you go along unfortunately.
Separate feeding and toileting
We mentioned at the top about not competing for resources, that’s especially true for food and places to toilet.
There may occasionally be a bit of food stealing, but as long as each animal feels safe when eating, there should be no conflict.
Do the same for toileting. While animals will naturally avoid places other animals go to the toilet, use training to make sure each can toilet in peace.
Don’t leave animals unattended until acclimatised
Don’t let your cat and dog meet on their own until they have accepted one another.
Chances are that it will be fine and nothing bad will happen, but it’s vital in those early stages that every interaction is a positive one.
Be present and make sure someone is around for every meet to begin with.
If you have to leave the house, consider using a child gate or crate for the dog to give the cat its own space.
This will help each animal relax and hopefully teach them that even though there’s another animal around, they won’t always be made to be in the same space.
Cats and dogs living together
It is definitely possible for cats and dogs to share the same space. As long as you approach everything in a calm, logical way and consider each species’ psychology, you should be fine.
Make sure no animal feels left out, ensure they have their own space, their own food and water and their own time with you and everything should work out!