Cats & dogs living together Dr Stephen Cutter B.V.Sc(hons)
Despite the saying “to fight like cats and dogs” in most cases cats and dogs can and do live together amicably, especially if they have been brought up with one another.
On the other hand you have always had a dog or cat only household and you’ve decided to add a member of the other species, a little care at introduction time is necessary.
In some cases, especially with some dogs, there can be significant risk of the cat being injured or even killed So make a rational assessment of your dog’s personality before deciding to get a cat. Most dogs will chase a cat if it runs away but if your dog is aggressive or predatory then the risk is high and it is not worth the risk. Most normal dogs however are keen to be friends. In a cat household it is best to consider getting a young pup or a quiet older dog who is already used to cats. For a dog household it is best to consider getting an older cat who is already experienced with dogs. Cats that are friendly and stand their ground are more likely to be accepted than one who runs or hides. You need to supervise all interactions and go gradually. Do the introductions inside and introduce the dogs one at time if you have more than one. Initially introduce the cat in a cat-box and allow the dog to sniff it. If the dog tries to attack or chase the cat, growl at it. Praise it when it makes friendly overtures. Do not progress if the attack appears to be a serious attempt. When the dog behaves itself hold the dog on a leash let the cat out to wander around and introduce itself. Again praise good behavior and discourage bad. Do not leave them alone together until you are confident they can get on.
Have patience and think carefully about their personalities. Go at your animals’ pace and soon they will be firm friends or at least learn to tolerate one another!