Introducing Dogs And Cats

Remember what your darling little puppy did to your shoes? Or perhaps your newspaper or the legs of your chairs? Keep in mind that your innocent pooch is a natural predator, and your cute little kitty could be his prey…or vice versa!

If you”re planning on adding a dog to your family and you already have a cat, your first step should be to research dog breeds. Some dog breeds, such as Rottweilers and Dobermans, are naturally more inclined to hunt and may never accept a cat in their home. The breed of the cat is also important because it may indicate how the cat will react to a dog.

What can you do as the “ringmaster” to help nurture this bizarre friendship? Most dogs can be taught to be friendly with their feline friends. You must first teach your dog that the cat is off limits. Your pooch just wants to please you, and he will be more likely to leave the cat alone when he understands that you want him to. Adult cats must also be taught to leave a puppy alone, but then again, cats make it their business to ignore you. A firm “no,” a loud “pssst!” or a squirt from a water pistol may be needed to make your point.

When introducing your dog to a cat, do it slowly and in a controlled environment. Separate your pets and give them time to get acquainted by getting used to one another”s scent. Keep the pets in separate rooms and gradually introduce them for short periods. Or install a gate or barrier between them. This will allow them to see and smell without physical contact.

Initially, supervise all interaction between cats and dogs until you”re confident that they will behave. At first, you may have to keep your dog on a leash whenever your cat is present. Make high places accessible only to the cat so that she can flee a conflict without injury, or simply hide from the dog when she feels threatened.

Each time the dog shows any inclination to growl, bark, or charge at the cat, firmly command “Leave it!” or “Stay!” Simply saying “No!” won”t help because your dog already associates “no” with other actions. You need a command that applies specifically to not hurting the cat.

In no time, they”ll be willing to follow your rules and satisfy their curiosity about one another.

Some Pointers for Introductions

Three basic rules will ensure a good start to introducing dogs and cats to one another.

  • Be in control! If you have an aggressive dog, have a leash on hand to rein him in when his behavior indicates that he might pounce on the kitty. Never leave your pets unsupervised while they”re getting acquainted.
  • Be prepared. Your dog may be very excited and curious about your cat, and the cat very frightened. Excited dogs can easily get out of control, and frightened cats may try to claw and bite to escape.
  • Give it a try. Don”t assume that you can”t adopt a new pet because you already own a dog or cat. You may miss out on a new friend and companion, and so might your pet!

Dogs and Cats: The Natural Relationship

The conflict between cats and dogs is easy to understand. Before dogs were domesticated by humans they survived by hunting small, furry prey that look just like the cat. A dog”s natural instinct is to pounce on fast-moving objects or animals that excite its curiosity. On the other hand, a cat who feels cornered is likely to hiss, scratch, and struggle to escape. Dogs tend to take this behavior personally.

When you understand why your pets act as they do, it will be much easier for you to control their behavior.

The Dog in the Cat Food or the Litter Box Dilemma

Many dogs eat cat food when they find it. You can solve this problem by giving each pet its own feeding area. Keep your dog out of the cat”s food by placing the dish up high where the dog can”t reach it.

Keep the cat”s litter box away from him as well. You never know when your pooch may (heaven forbid!) search for a sandy toy or snack.

Regardless of conflicts that can occur in mixed pet households, most pet owners agree that the joy that each pet brings into the home outweighs any troubles that may arise.

A True Tale: Spikes, for Your Health

We weren”t sure what to expect when we came home each evening after work. Our new kitten, HoneyPaws, was quite ill from dehydration and some infection she”d brought home from the kennel. Corrigan, our yellow Labrador Retriever, was only a puppy himself. Would he frighten the cat? Would he chase her away from her comfort spot on the hearth? Worse still, would he eat her?

Our worst fears surfaced that Wednesday as we walked in, greeted by our happy puppy, but no HoneyPaws in sight. “Where are you? Oh, HoneyPaws!” we shouted out the back door. After a few minutes, a loudvery loudMEOW issued from somewhere in the dark. From underneath our daughter”s playhouse up the hill, to be exact. On hands and knees, we extracted the very small, very angry long-haired calico kitten, carried her back to the house and had a look at her new do: Her fur, thoroughly licked by her puppy companion”s big healing tongue, stood up in spikes. “Kitten with mohawk” was our first hilarious thought.

And so it went. For days afterward, we came home to a spiked kitten, her loving nurse, Corrigan, and the feeling they”d be lifelong friends. That turned out to be true, although HoneyPaws has asked me to mention that she”s the boss and Corrigan is HER dog.