Can Cats and Dogs live together?

Some of us are Dog people, while some are Cat people. Then there’s a variety of animal lovers that like both. What if you want to keep both dogs and cats at your home?

Well, for most of us who have grown up seeing Tom and Jerry cartoon series, we know how fast things can go southwards if we keep a cat and a dog together. If you haven’t, go and watch the cute scruffles between Tom (the cat always after the rat Jerry) and Spike (the dog who often beats up Tom) in that series.

Though to be entirely honest, the acts represented in that animated series are kind of exaggerated. Cats and Dogs can live together peacefully. Even in wild, inter-species friendship is not uncommon.

But it may involve some efforts from your part. Afterall, Cats and Dogs are not natural friends. Let’s see the tips and tricks we need to implement to pull off this small miracle and live our dream of living with both of these majestic creatures.

Table of Contents
  • Can dogs and cats get along?
  • Best dogs for cats

Can dogs and cats get along?

The answer is kind of Yes, but with some conditions, warnings and cautions tagging along. Let’s understand this issue from various angles and in variety of scenarios.

Childhood friendship is the best

Just as is the case with us humans, even in case of animals, childhood friendship proves to be the best. If you are planning to keep both cats and dogs, then the best thing you can do is to introduce a kitten and puppy with each other at a very young age.

Not only will it allow them to get used to each other, it will also reduce the risk of either of them hurting each other grievously. Afterall, how much can a kitty hurt a puppy, and vice-versa?

By the time the kitten will grow sharp nails, and the puppy sharp teeth, they will already be best of buddies. This is the best and the easiest way to go about it.

But if one of them is already grown up or both of them are, then it’s a different ball game altogether.

Friendship at later stages

We can also introduce a cat and a dog after one of them or both have grown up. But it’s going to be a bit challenging, at least in the initial few days. There will be a lot of hissing and growling/barking – kind of a cold war!

It might give you some anxious moments and some sleepless nights. They will eventually become friends, or at least learn to tolerate each other. But it may be a slow process.

You may take certain precautions while doing so:

  • Keep them in separate rooms initially, especially if there’s no one to supervise them. It would be a good idea to keep them in a setting wherein they may not contact each other physically, but can see each other. There will a lot of threatening sounds made by them, especially the dog, as they are more territorial in nature. But in due time they will get fed up with all the drama and get used to each other’s sight.
  • The second step will be to take them closer. Let them sniff each other, touch each other. However, be very vigilant at this stage. This is probably the most dangerous stage wherein one or the other may suddenly attack the other. Preferably, keep the more aggressive animal on leash while you do so. Separate them as soon as you see any sign of an aggressive move by them.
  • Ideally, you should train your dog or puppy before you introduce a cat to him. Make sure he follows your commands, such as STAY, NO, etc. If you do not have confidence on your skills to control your dog, keep him on leash, at least for the initial few days.
  • Even once they become friends, make sure that your cats have places where they can go out of the reach of dogs. Usually, it’s somewhere high above the floor. Your cats will be much happier if they have the option of minding their own business.
The first impression is the most important!

How well your cat and dog will go along will depend a lot on their first meeting. Though do not expect them to become friends at first sight, but make sure they do not mess up their relation beyond repair in the very first meet (by hurting each other).

Move slowly. Assign separate spaces to them, and let them see each other from distance. Keep both or at least the dog on leash in the initial few days. Let them get used to each other’s scents. Safety first, and then challenge/allow them to explore each other one step at a time.

If we are looking at forming a friendship bond for the rest of their lives, we should have the patience to wait for a few weeks for that foundation to develop. Slow and steady wins the race!

And for the worst-case scenario - Provide spaces to your cat to climb up, just in case she is attacked.

Dogs have more of a prey-catching drive. They will try to catch a cat if it runs away from them. But dogs also listen to their owners more and would like to please you. So, make use of this tendency of theirs to train them. Let them know that if they hurt the cat, that will not be taken well and may lead to some kind of minor punishment (say scolding or putting them on leash for longer durations).

But even if your dog or cat is behaving well in front of you, do not take that at face value – Trust but verify. One of my dogs used to behave very well with my cats in front of me, but used to chew my cat’s ears during night. Though it was not to hurt the cat, but my cat used to get irritated due to this. Maybe he just liked to tease the poor soul. But he never used to do so in front of me, because I had often stopped him from doing so. The point is, that these guys are smarter than we think them to be. So, be vigilant!

Best dogs for cats

Though the above information is valid for most species of cats and dogs, there are some more violent species of dogs such as Rottweiler, wherein it may be difficult to implement.

The ground rule is that for animals of different species to live together peacefully, both of them should be a bit docile. If anyone of them, especially your dog, is rather aggressive then it would not be a good idea to keep cats, rabbits or any other animal species with him.

The best dog breeds that can be kept with cats are the ones that are very peaceful and docile. Some of these have been listed below:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Beagle
  • Pug
  • Poodle
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