As most of our readers know, we have two cats and now one dog (and a snake, but that is beside the point). Yes, our apartment is a zoo, but we prefer a busy life anyhow. One of the most common questions I get about our household is how the cats and dog get along. It’s a progression each and every day but it is certainly going to the positive. Our cats now know how to avoid Noke and how to stand their ground. And every day, the cats more and more want to play with our adorable pup. Here are some steps in introducing a friendly relationship between your canine and feline:
1. Give them room. For the first few weeks we had Noke, they were completely separated. They could smell each other, but they did not interact. Noke was either with me or in her crate, and the cats were tucked comfortably in the bedroom or in the living room. Each species knew something was going on, but couldn’t quite put a paw on it. This step is important so you don’t completely throw your pets into a brand new situation. Cats don’t like change. Try to make it easy on them.
2. Give cautious introductions. For us, our cats were here first and deserve to be treated as such. You must make them still feel just as important and that they have some sense of authority and presence. To create a safe and comfortable meeting environment, we left Noke in her crate and allowed the cats to explore the area. This way, the cats could choose when they wanted to approach Noke and were able to do it safely since she was crated. The dog may bark or whine, but just let the process happen.
3. Keep the dog on a leash. After you pass those few weeks of keeping them separated and introduce them safely, it’s time to bring them into the same realm. The dog can get very excited by this and want to constantly chase the cats, so we need to take action. Put a leash on your dog so that you can prevent them from scaring or chasing the cats. This is for safety and for comfort. And it will teach your dog to be comfortable on the leash, as an added bonus.
4. Use lots of praise. As relationships develop, you want to encourage them for the better. Negative reinforce rarely works well with pets as it tends to scare them. But positive will allow you to reap the benefits! If your dog behaves playfully and listens to you when you tell him or her to back off, give lots of praise and treats! If your cat learns to stand his or her ground or plays nicely with the dog, do the same. Trust me, praise makes a big impact. It’s logical: play nice and I get treats. If only humans worked that way.
5. Keep a wary eye and quick hands. When you do finally trust your dog enough to let him or her off-leash, keep an eye out. Our dog is actually learning how to prowl and pounce like that cats (since that’s who she watches all day) so I need to be ready to step in if she gets too rowdy. She never tries to hurt the cats, but it’s better to be safe.
6. Treat everyone equally. Just because you have an adorable new puppy doesn’t mean you should ignore your uncool cats. Give them loads of attention and love every day to show that you’re still their #1 fan. This way they won’t feel jealous of the dog and then take it out on the dog. Treating everyone equal will foster positive relationships.
7. Don’t scold your cat’s grumpiness. It’s one thing if the cat is instigating, but it’s another if he or she is simply standing their ground. It’s good if your cat emits a growl and a swipe at your dog’s nose. This sets boundaries and tells the dog enough is enough. It’s so much better for your cat to do this rather than you. It will mean much more to the dog and learning boundaries will come faster.
So those are a few tips on how to foster a good relationship between the canine and the feline. It’s never going to be perfect. Dogs chase cats. Especially puppies! There are times I have to grab Noke because she simply gets too excited. It’s a journey each and every day, but hopefully your pets will end up as best buddies. Try these tips out. Let us know if you have any other questions. And as always…stay hungry and fit!