Good news! The belief that cats and dogs are natural mortal enemies is a myth. This is according to Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet’s “Cats vs Dogs,” at least. So if your dog and cat are fighting, you’re not doomed.
It turns out, there’s no reason why Felix and Fido can’t call a truce and live in peace. Although dogs are sometimes territorial and cats are easily startled (there’s a reason that the term scaredy-cat exists) it is possible for them to co-exist happily.
As the human go-between, it’s your job to create a home environment which allows your dogs and cats to share the same space happily.
Are your dog and cat fighting all the time?
“If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends or at least tolerate each other,” says Galaxy. Here’s what you can do to help create that safe space for your furkids of all species.
A personality match made in heaven
A lot of us humans believe that certain breeds of cats and dogs might make good pairings.
But it isn’t really about the mixture of Burmese or Siamese and Great Dane or Maltese. It’s actually more about the personalities of the individual pets. Though obviously, some breeds are more likely to produce a furkid with a chilled out personality. Interested in hearing more? Read our article on the friendliest cat breeds and kindest dog breeds.
No matter the breed though, the personalities need to mesh. Got an anxious, skittish cat who prefers solitude and a dog who thinks cuddles are the meaning of life? You might have a personality clash on your hands. If your pets really don’t get along and seem to have incompatible personalities, it might be best to separate them.
Leave a window open for the cat that the dog can’t access, for example. Try to have designated ‘other-pet-free’ zones like a bedroom for Felix and another area for Fido. Can they have separate pet doors? Sometimes prevention is better than trying to find a cure.
Maybe you’ve never reaaaally invested into making your pup a beacon of good behaviour. If so and you’ve a cat, you might need to do some training with your dog to make sure they play friendly.
And who knows, maybe your dog shows an aptitude for this whole learning thing. If so, you can give these five easy dog training tricks a try.
Dogs often act on impulse. If your dog suddenly sees Felix walking around his garden (the sheer audacity of that cat!) then they might instinctively want to chase them. It’s quite a normal reaction, but good training and socialisation can make a huge difference here.
To set everyone up for success, start when you’re bringing the new pet into your home. First let the pets sniff each other’s beds and toys separately. They can satisfy their curiosity about each other’s scents and smells before they meet officially.
And then be mindful to introduce your pooch and feline friend while you’re around. It’s best to keep the dog on a leash to start with so you maintain some control over the situation. Allow them time to suss out the cat-shaped member of the family and sniff around a bit.
Look out for signs of aggression or the potential for a dog bite. And if your dog is behaving like the star that you know they are, give them some treats and fuss. Ditto with your cat.
See, you’re already well on your way to avoiding the drama and difficulty of your dog and cat fighting.
Exercise can help minimise fighting between dogs and cats
Getting your dog to exercise isn’t just fun, it’s good for them too. It’s a positive for their weight, fitness, bone and muscle strength. And it can even help to ward off diabetes in dogs.
Then there’s the fact that a good run or puppy games will help to release some of that pent up energy. A sleepy, happy dog with no excess energy is far less likely to chase or tease cats. Yay for self-control.
Plus, you’re less likely to see destructive habits and pet separation anxiety when your dog is tired and content.
Dogs need a lot of stimulation. That includes physical stimulation like exercise and play, as well as mental stimulation. Receiving their required stimulation in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by terrorising your cat.
So, remember to wear out their brains a little bit too. Mix up your walking routes by giving your dog new things to sniff, play a game which challenges them mentally, or let them search for their dinner by sniffing it out instead of feeding from a bowl.
Separate their toys and food
Just in case one of your introductions does go a little bit wrong and someone needs treatment for a scratch or bite wound… Or if you’re renting with pets and the rabble rousing causes damage to the home.
Even if you think you don’t have a resource guarder of a dog, it’s best not to even open this possible can of worms.
And, hey, we get mad when someone tries to sneak a bite of our dinner when we’re not looking too. So to keep tabs on things, make sure you have scheduled mealtimes rather than a “help yourself” feeding approach with all your pets. Feed them in separate areas of the house or feed your cat on a counter top or somewhere that the dog can’t access.
No more dog and cat fighting…but get pet insurance anyway
Hopefully your dog and cat will be best of friends soon. If it doesn’t happen overnight, be patient and consistent with the furry family.
If you haven’t already considered it, pet insurance is good to have for your peace of mind and your back pocket. Just in case one of your introductions does go a little bit wrong and someone needs treatment for a scratch or bite wound… Or if you’re renting with pets and the rabble rousing causes damage to the home.
My dog and cat are fighting – over to you
Have you managed to quell sibling rivalry between your feline and canine kids? If so, share your success stories with us on our Facebook page.