Friday, September 17, 2010
We've all heard the old saying, “Fighting like cats and dogs,” but is it true? In all the years I've lived with both, I've never had any serious incidents with dogs and cats living under the same roof. Sure, they've had their little turf wars when one of the dogs wants a spot on the couch and the cat won't move. Dogs and cats can live in peace, but you do need to be mindful of certain dog breeds that may not be as accepting of cats, and proper introductions need to take place before they can become house mates who won't demolish your home while you're gone.
Dogs and cats are both territorial, and we have to be respectful and understanding of their right to protect what they feel is theirs. In your pet's mind, a newcomer is trespassing, and even a cat will defend her space, toys, bed and human. A new dog or cat may also be dominant, which is why you need to take charge and defuse any confrontations from the start.
When adding a new cat to a home with a dog or vice versa, always introduce them slowly and never leave them alone in the same room unsupervised, especially if you have a dog breed who is known to not like cats. It doesn't mean they can't live together; it just means you need to keep a specific dog breeds' temperament in mind when it comes to the dog living with a cat.
It's best to put a new cat in another area of the home to allow her time to learn new smells, sounds and activity in the house. Don't forget to give her attention while she's confined to one area. When she's feeling comfortable in her new surroundings, then you can introduce her to other pets in the home. Put your dog on a leash and have him sit. Bring in the cat and let her wander around at her leisure without having to deal with an inquisitive dog trying to smell her. When the cat's ready, she'll check out the dog if she's interested, so don't force an introduction. It can take a couple weeks or more, so be patient.
The Siberian Husky is one of the dog breeds that may not get along well with cats. However, I had a male and female Husky at the same time and never had problems with any of my cats getting along with them. Jake, my male, would let his favorite cats curl up in his tail. My female, Cheyenne, wasn't as friendly towards them. She never tried to hurt any of the cats, but she always had a look in her eyes when any of them ran around the house. Two individual dogs of the same breed – one accepted the cats as buddies and one only tolerated them. I always made sure to keep the cats and Cheyenne separated when I wasn't home.
The responsible approach to take with any dog and cat relationship is to make sure the cat has a place where they can get away from the dog, just in case. It's also important to remember that just because dogs and cats get along when you're home, doesn't mean they do when you're gone. Dogs with a high prey drive like Huskies, sight hounds, Akita, Malamute, Basenji, Beagle, Border Collie, Bullmastiff, Doberman Pincher, Terriers, Elkhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Samoyed and Weimaraner are all on a list of dogs who may dislike cats. But since dogs are individuals, it's unfair to say none of these breeds will peacefully co-exist with cats. Some dogs on the list become great friends with cats, and dogs and cats can also get along well with other species, as evidenced in this article on interspecies animal friendships.
To know how your dog will respond to a cat, you need to understand and know them as individuals and not as a collective group in a specific breed. The same goes for a cat. Some cats will attack dogs!
Regardless of which dog breed or mixed breed you may have, not all will like cats and not all cats like dogs, no matter how much time you give them to get to know each other. Even though dogs may have been raised with cats as puppies and kittens, some dogs have a hard time resisting their prey drive that's hard wired in them. Dogs still act like dogs with the right kind of stimulus. It's always best to know your pets well, to keep everyone safe when you're away from home. Unless you know for certain, never leave them alone together.
Read more articles by Linda Cole