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Cats And Dogs Together

I have owned cats for over 60 years. Between them and their vets, I have learned a great deal about how they tick.

It can be done!

It can be done!

Table of Contents

  1. Kittens and Puppies
  2. Older Animals
  3. What is the Difference
  4. Keep Temperament in Mind
  5. Active Animals versus Older Animals
  6. Size Matters
  7. Hiding
  8. Scent is Important
  9. Spayed or Neutered
  10. Visits Should be Supervised
  11. Aggression
  12. Summary

Kittens and Puppies

They are so adorable, aren't they? Most domesticated animals agree. They will accept a baby before they would accept an older animal. And it doesn't make any difference if a kitten is with a dog or a puppy is with a cat. Of course there are exceptions to every rule so make the first few days supervised for safety.

To introduce the two animals, you should keep them separate while switching out items that they have touched or slept on. Even your clothes can help. Make sure you pet one animal and then the other making sure to switch who you pet first. Most of the adult animals will, after a few uncomfortable moments, accept the baby as a baby and a friendship is born.

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Older Animals

Introducing older cats to older dogs or dogs to cats can be a bit tricky. Many of the older animals don't want the competition for your attention or the intrusion into their space. The new guy can become unsure and feel insecure. He may hide and eat or drink very little especially if he has to go past the resident to get to the bowls.

Sometimes the stray or rescued animal is easier to transition because they are grateful for the step up from barely living to paradise. They are usually easier to work into a home; but not if your own animal is a bit grumpy

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What is the Difference

The difference between introducing a cat into a dog's home and introducing a dog into a cat's home are usually the same steps. Many animals that come from the same environment will be easier to introduce. They know the dangers and are more appreciative of a safe environment. And whether you have a dog or a cat, they still own the house and all that is in it, so they will be unhappy about the intruder. Animals' instincts tell them to fight for their territory. And if there are babies, even human ones, your resident animal will often be more territorial.

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Keep Temperament in Mind

Keep in mind which type of animal you have to work with as far as temperament, on both sides. An aggressive dog can easily kill a cat and would not allow it to remain in the house. An aggressive cat can be just as vicious They have teeth and claws and know how to use them. Although there are times when these animals will accept another, it isn't easy to find the right mix. Give it a chance and make sure both animals have your scent on them. If the new guy is getting beat up or fearful, then split them up. If after a few tries it is obvious they won't get along, then perhaps they should not be together.

However, just as aggression on both sides can be a serious block, uncaring can mold the two together. Just don't be confused by thinking it is play when the easy going animal is being crushed, held or bit by the other one. Never assume the animals can break it up or get away, especially if one is larger than the other (usually the cat is smaller in size). It only takes one bite to end the relationship for good. Be watchful and vigilant.

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Active Animals Versus Older Animals

Very active animals don't pair well with older animals because they can't get around as easy. They can have digestive problems or arthritis in their joints. By putting a very active bull dog, for example, in a home with an older cat is basically putting your cat into a war zone where he is no longer safe. An active cat can aggravate an older dog to the point of biting to relieve the constant attacks. Try putting yourself in the place of the attacked, bugged and aggravated animal. Would you like to have that done to you if you were that small and/or that sore? Most of us would not and that should tell you that the animal wouldn't either. The more active animal needs more exercise to wear them out. More play time or longer walks can help.

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Size Matters

We often see pictures of German Shepherd dogs with tiny kittens running all over them and think they are so cute. Such sights are cute, but very rare. Larger dogs can roll over or step on a tiny cat without intending harm. They just don't know the size difference, especially if the other animal is an adolescent. Larger cats can be a danger to small dogs because they can scratch out eyes because they are afraid of the new addition. Cats are good at hiding and sneak attacks which could also be a danger to you or your children as well as the new animal. Be very careful when introducing animals that are vastly different in size.

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Hiding

Don't let the new guy hide (or the resident for that matter). If you have to keep them apart, chose another room, but be certain it is temporary. Hiding is how the animals find safety from the other guys and can be dangerous because food, water and waste is not properly dealt with while the animal is hiding. Instead, keep the visits supervised and safe while the two are becoming acquainted. Smelling and even a bit of pushing is normal when they first meet. Growling, hissing or ears back mean their meeting isn't going so well and the animals should be separated.

Scent Is Important

Keep in mind that scent plays an important role in the life of animals. Fear is one of the stronger scents along with the mating scent. So each of the animals can smell the other one and knows they have been invaded. Be careful to keep the scents switched out or equal especially when trying to get them acquainted. That means you pet one and then the other during the same visit. Switch out things like beds, blankets and toys so they can both get used to the new scent. By putting your scent on both animals, you are telling them both that you accept them both. This helps to keep the fighting to a minimum.

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Spayed Or Neutered

If your animal is not fixed, you could have more trouble introducing the other animal, especially if they are both male or both female. The scent of their gender will come through and that could cause territorial wars between the two. Also, unfixed cats tend to spray a lot and will struggle to get out, especially if there is an unfixed cat outside. Unfixed dogs are often aggressive, especially during mating season. By fixing the animals, you are also removing the hormones which usually makes them healthier and less susceptible to some cancers. And, of course, you are keeping them from having little replicas.

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Visits Should Be Supervised

Keep visits supervised until you are certain they are safe together. Even if you have other animals that have accepted the new guy, it only takes one that doesn't like him to cause irreparable damage to you, your house and most of all the two animals.

Animals can't back down from a fight especially if it is life or death. They have no where to run so they have to fight. Also, don't assume your animal is not hurt if they run off. Animals are instinctively cautious and don't show pain no matter how bad it is because that would show weakness. This is especially true of cats. Weakness makes the animal a target which means they are the one most likely to be attacked for food. Once they seem to be getting along, you can let them be but don't leave the house until you know they are safe together.

Aggression

Step in and remove the new guy at the first sign of aggression on either side. That way no one gets hurt. Stay close to them as they get to know each other and watch for the tell-tale signs of danger: growling, hissing, teeth bared, ears back and eyes dilated. Use a board or the cover of a tote and place it directly between the two. That breaks off the connection between them and allows you to remove the new guy without getting hurt yourself. Keep that obstacle handy when you let them visit to ensure safely all around, and to save your hands.

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Summary

You can introduce another animal into your mix whether you have one or a dozen. Just make sure you give them time to acclimate. Taking precautions along the way will mean a safer home and environment. Keep them separate and slowly work them into the mix. You won't be sorry that you took the time. And don't be afraid to admit defeat if you have tried everything and it doesn't work. Sometimes, you just can't fix it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cheryl Simonds

I would love to hear from you! Be sure to leave me a message.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on April 12, 2019:

Tommi, You are quite correct about a neutral meeting being a great way for first introductions and they can be a great way to tell what might happen next Thank you for sharing that. Cheryl

Tommi Grace from Woodward on April 11, 2019:

In the past when I decide to adopt a new fur baby, I have always taken the one I already have with me to introduce them on neutral territory. If they don't get along there, it probably won't happen at home. I let mine meet the potential adoptee in a safe environment with one of the shelter employees there to help. Once the two appear to tolerate each other, I interact with both of them at the same time. If there is a love connection or at least an acceptable tolerance level we can move on to the next step, a safe meeting in the front yard of my home. Then we can move to the back yard. Then to the inside of the house. Or at least that is how I have done it with new dogs. It takes a little longer but when I adopt it is forever. I am currently looking for a new female kitten to introduce to my female 9 year old dog and my daughter's 2 year old neutered male cat. As long as everybody gets along we will be a happy blended family. I will more than likely leave out the back yard meeting. But they will be introduced in a neutral zone first. I am not worried about my dog, she was spayed before she could have a litter of puppies so she is very maternal and loves loves loves cats. She cuddles with my daughter's cat all of the time. I am more concerned about the older cat. I hope he is OK with sharing my dog.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on April 11, 2019:

Nancy, that is great. I love it when the animals get along and even seem to love each other. Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on April 11, 2019:

Ellison, you are so right. Often the innocent animals find they are trapped in a nightmare for which there is no exit. I wish everyone would research before they just plop them down in a new place.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on April 11, 2019:

Thank you Pamela, I really hope they help when someone introduces a new pet into a home.

NancyBrighteyes KeislingMiller on April 10, 2019:

I love our Kitty Shadow and Golden Retreiver Puppy ( 2 yr old Luuciee ) together , they play , they fight , they sleep and even eat together

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on April 10, 2019:

This was a great article. It was really informative and I think drives home the point that is so important to be careful with introducing new pets. Which is something that I think some animal lovers don't think much about, which can lead to animals getting hurt.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 10, 2019:

I love dogs and cats. Your article is packed with great information about putting any two of these animals together. Thanks for this information.

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