Are Dogs and Cats Natural Rivals?

By February 17 | See Comments

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If you have any doubts about adding a feline member to your canine house, or vice-versa, you can rest assured as cats and dogs can really live at peace with each other in spite of the conventional wisdom of a century of cartoons. The trick is to create a healthy and structured environment for your pets to ease the transition.Animal trainers believe that the conventional wisdom that a dog and cat cannot get along is a myth. Millions of pet owners in the United States have a cat-and-dog household. According to recent surveys, 60 percent of Americans own either a dog or a cat and 17 percent of them own both a dog and a cat.

How to keep the peace

Here are some ways to avoid a showdown between your pets:

  1. Keep your cat safe – Install a safe haven for your kitty that is not accessible by your dog. This area should have kitty food, the bed, litter box on one side, and water on the other. Use a chain or a gate on top of the door to keep out the dog while maintaining just enough room for the cat to let itself in and out.
  2. Put a leash on your pup – You should be able to control your dog without grabbing, yelling or chasing. You can attach a light tether to the collar of your dog while you are at home. This will let you access your dog any time you want. Since tethers are lighter than leashes, your dog will feel free and you will be able to control him as well. Soak the tether on mouthwash that tastes really bad to keep your dog from chewing it off. Once the animals start growing accustomed to each other, you can keep cutting the cord till it is no longer required.
  3. Train them young – If it is possible, introduce a dog and cat to each other while they are still young. It is a formative time and most of the animals are flexible, resilient and curious when they are young.
  4. Keep the breeds in mind – It is vital to bear in mind the tasks that the breed was bred for. For example, spaniels, retrievers and hounds were bred to work with other dogs or groups of people, which makes them very social. Terriers, like Jack Russells, were bred to work independently and they prefer the company of humans to other animals. Alaskan Malamutes are natural predators and do not do very well with cats, nor do Siberian Huskies since they have a powerful prey drive.
  5. Let them hash it out – If an animal hisses or growls, it is meant as a correction to the offending animal. If owners step in and try to stop the behavior, the dog or cat will growl or hiss more intensely, becoming extra aggressive in the process.
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