Can cats and dogs live together in peace? Could your cat get along with another cat?
Whether you’re blending households with a roommate or partner who’s bringing a pet or adopting another animal for your current menagerie, you will have to figure out how all these creatures will share space. You may need to play guidance counselor for your furry friends, and we’ve got some tips to help you get started.
When You Can Choose Your New Pet
If your current pet is an older one, consider how it will feel about having a young puppy or kitten underfoot. Youngsters can often make an older pet feel young again. On the other hand, if your current pet is a real curmudgeon, you might want to avoid a young animal that may make it crankier. In either case, don’t leave old and young pets alone together until you see how they get along together.
Consider how different breeds might get along. If you are looking to adopt a new pet, you might be successful in choosing its characteristics and temperament based on the new pet’s breed. Also, if possible, make a point to spend some time observing the new animal before you adopt. It’s a good idea to try to match energy levels and easygoing natures to difficult ones, though the truth is that chemistry between animals, like people, is fairly unpredictable.
If you bring together two or more dogs or cats of different sexes, make sure they are all spayed or neutered so you don’t end up with a litter on your hands!
Whether you are inheriting pets from a new roommate or a significant other or bringing a newly-adopted pet into your household, the way the animals meet could have a lot to do with how they end up getting along. For dogs, meeting in a neutral location, such as a park that neither one has been to before, is a great way for them to get to know each other without territorial disputes. Be sure the dogs are each on a leash and handled by a different person, in case they have to be separated.
Watch the animals’ body postures. If there is teeth-baring, deep growls, or stiff-legged stances, separate them, encourage them, and then reintroduce them. Once the dogs are in the same space, use plenty of positive reinforcement with each one to encourage them to get along.
With a Cat in the Equation
Cats, typically temperamental, can become even more so around dogs or other cats. Before introductions happen, keep the animals in different, but nearby, rooms so they can get used to the smells and sounds of the other. After a few days, let them share space in small bursts to see how they get along.
You may discover that a cat ends up claiming a certain part of the apartment for its own, at least initially. Keeping the dog’s bowls and the cat’s bowls, litter box and scratching post in separate places should help give your persnickety kitty the space it needs.
No matter what combination of pets you try to unite under a single roof, make patience and gentle support your priorities. Your new animals will need to adjust to new humans and a strange apartment, as well to their peer critters, so give them a chance to be scared and uncomfortable while they settle into their new home. In most cases, with time, animals that initially can’t stand to be in the same room together end up becoming good friends – or they at least learn how to tolerate each other.