Kittens and puppies that are raised together can almost always become good companions. Even a larger dog can learn to play gently and remain calm in the presence of a kitty housemate.
Sometimes, though, adding an adult cat to a household with dogs, or vice versa, can present a host of complications for the owners and the pets. If you are considering this, I suggest you think through some possible issues first:
- Is the dog a breed or mix with a high prey drive? (certain hunting breeds and terriers may need extra evaluation) Please reconsider for the cat's sake.
- Does the cat have an unusually active play style or intense need for attention? Either of these could provoke problems with Fido. You'll have more influence over Woof than Meow, so give this great consideration. A highly-active dog can be separated from the cat, but not so much the other way around.
- Does your home allow for some private space for Meow to have peace and quiet? Most cats crave a great deal of alone time. They tend to seek out sunny spots to lie in and often choose high locations. An upstairs with windows could allow you to gate the top of the steps, giving kitty her space, and Fido some boundaries.
- Do you have time to work with your dog in socializing him to behave calmly around the new kitty, teaching him to respect her space, food, bedding and litter area? Keep in mind that although I may have given you the impression that all these problems can be solved with barriers, things do happen. Training, as described in Part IV of this series, will be a good preventive. You'll always need a backup plan for two species to co-habitate.
- Can you give Meow a higher status than Woof, to allow her a better chance at integrating into the family? While Meow may have sharp claws, a large or agile dog will need to see her as higher on the totem pole than he is, to assure he learns to respect her.
Woof and Meow, Part III: Strategies for Stopping the Treasure Hunt and Keeping the Peace
Woof and Meow, Part IV: A Little Training in Respect
Woof and Meow, Part V: Exploring New Options with the Litter-Robot and World's Best Cat Litter
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