Maintaining Pet Harmony

How many “links of the chain” live together in your home?

In the wild, carnivorous animals naturally eat animals below them on the food chain to survive. Take precautions when you keep an animal lower on the food chain than another pet. The cat may love you, but she may not hesitate to eat the mouse.

Socialize your pets by keeping them calm and under restraint. Allow them to examine one another, but don”t allow any aggression. Some pets are simply curious and will not harm your smaller pet.


Snakes must be kept in their cage or supervised if you have other pets in the home. Small pets aren”t the only ones needing protection either. Large snakes have been known to swallow rabbits, cats and small dogs when left unattended.

Conflict isn”t always the serpent”s fault. Snakes aren”t just huntersthey”re also the hunted. If your snake is small, a cat or dog may attack and harm him or herjust another reason to keep your pets separated until you”re certain of no danger.


Fish must be protected from other animals in the home, especially cats. Keep the top of the aquarium covered and away from any shelves or tables that would allow kitty to go fishing. If you don”t have a cover for your aquarium, consider a universal hood that fits most tanks.

Even though your cat may be afraid of water, she might put her fears aside in this situation. As a fish owner you must also check compatibility before adding any new fish to your aquarium; many types of fish cannot live together the same aquarium. Tank dividers can be used to create two separate areas that keep hostile fish apart.

Small Animals and Pocket Pets

Rabbits, hamsters and other small animals must often be protected from other pets. Dogs and cats are both natural hunters and if they”re not socialized at a young age may not be able to resist chasing small animals. Choose habitats and homes that are designed to keep small furry pets safe from predators.


Birds can be frightened by both cats and dogs. Cats and dogs are clever animals. Don”t assume that your bird can protect itself from other pets by simply flying out of range. Dogs will chase and bark at a bird simply for pleasure, but, fortunately, some dogs will eventually become accustomed to the bird and ignore it.

Keep your bird in a cage placed very high off the floor and away from shelves that kitty can climb on. Fasten a bell to your cat”s collar to give your bird (and wild birds if your cat goes outside) a warning signal.

New Babies and Children

Children, especially young children, can become overexcited about getting a new pet. Encourage children to talk quietly to the new animal and avoid face-to-face contact (which can sometimes scare an animal unaccustomed to children). Dogs and cats may be particularly interested in a newborn baby. Allowing your pets to become familiar with the baby is important to maintaining harmony, but supervision is necessary at all times.

Don”t let our warnings discourage you. Sharing your home with multiple pets allows you to enjoy more of the pleasures the animal kingdom has to offer. Your pets may even surprise you by becoming good friends!

Tips for Maintaining Harmony

Experienced owners of multiple pets have this advice:

  • Feed the pets in separate places and at different times to reduce the likelihood that they”ll fight over food.
  • When introducing a puppy to an adult cat, keep an eye on the cat. Puppies aren”t “cat wise” and don”t realize the potential danger. The puppy will probably annoy an older cat, prompting a claw to the nose.
  • Give your pets equal time. Your pets may become jealous and resentful when another pet receives more attention.
  • The more obedient and trained your dog is, the more he”ll listen to you and will leave your cat alone.
  • Keep both cat toys and dog toys nearby. Rambunctious dogs and cats can pounce on toys instead of your each other.