• Rita Harris

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs?

We recently had to humanely euthanize our Jack Russell Terrier. She had advanced arthritis and her quality of life was greatly compromised. My husband, daughter, and myself have been grieving her loss but so has one of our cats, Teagan. Teagan adored Lola. According to Teagan, Lola was her mama and you could not tell her differently. A lot of people are surprised to hear that not only do cats and dogs get along, but they can also grow close and become companions. However, you have to introduce them correctly.

Animals have distinct personalities; some are passive and others are more aggressive but one thing they have in common is instinct. A predator reacts to prey as a predator. When cats fear a dog and run, they unfortunately are acting in a way that prey to dogs act. There really isn’t much thought put into. Therefore, the key is to keep each animal from falling into the natural instinct pattern as much as possible. Here are a few ways to do that:

Do it While They are Young

Of course, the easiest way to introduce dogs and cats is to do it when they’re young. When they are puppies and kittens they are too young to realize that one is potential predator and one is potential prey. They grow up assuming they each belong to the other’s colony or pack

Trading Places

Keep the new pet in a separate space, like a spare bedroom or extra bathroom. However, take turns keeping one of the animals separated. For instance, for a few days you can keep the new cat in a spare room, and then switch them. This way, the new pet is able to explore the surroundings of the home and also get the scent of the resident pet that is already there.

Nose to Nose

Much like you introduce two new cats, you can introduce a dog and a cat on either side of a door. Put cat treats on one side of the door, and dog treats on the other. Eating in close proximity reinforces the establishment of the cat belonging to the dog’s pack. The dog will be less likely to chase the cat like it is prey.

Keep Them on a Short Leash

We can’t always introduce our furbabies when they are actual babies. Sometimes we decide to add a dog or cat to our family of already grown dogs or cats. What to do then? Introduce them slowly, by having one person hold the cat tightly on a lap, and another person holding the dog on a very short leash. Allow them to sniff each other for a few minutes and then remove the dog from the room. Do what you can to prevent the cat from running and the dog from chasing. You don’t want to establish a predator/prey relationship that will be harder to break.

It helps to be aware of what kind of personality your resident pet has. If your resident furbaby is a very active dog, then a timid cat isn’t going to work. The cat could become overwhelmed and run, triggering the dog to chase. At the same time, if you have an very playful, hyper resident cat, then a quiet and passive dog might find himself aggravated with all the activity. It’s important to keep in mind how different personalities will respond to each other.

Also, be mindful of how the new pet and the resident pet are handling the change to the household. Is the new cat being aggressive to the resident dog? Does the resident dog growl and chase the new cat? It is wise to keep the initial contacts, after the leash introduction, supervised. This will help insure that everyone can acclimate safely.

If you’re interested in adding a new cat or kitten to your family, then contact Spay The Strays. We have many lovable cats and kittens that are waiting for you to take them home.

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