Although popular culture may teach us otherwise, with slow introductions and obedience training many dogs and cats can get along and even form friendly bonds with each other. While some pups and kitties may never be able to get along with each other, due to their instincts, those raised with each other as younglings or who are relatively easygoing may not only tolerate each other, but even cuddle together.
A 2008 study published in the journal "Applied Animal Behaviour Science" and reported in ScienceDaily found that owners who adopted a kitten and later a puppy -- after the kitten was comfortably situated in the home -- discovered that their pets formed friendly bonds with each other. When cats were younger than 6 months of age and dogs less than 1 year old, they tended to be more open to learning each other's very different body languages. Once acclimated to each other's presence, these pups and kitties played with each other, didn't fight and even slept in close physical contact, demonstrating a close, friendly relationship, according to Haaretz.com.
Introductions are the key to forming a good friendship between your dog and cat, and you need to take those first interactions slowly and carefully. Keep the two pets in separate rooms or spaces in your home and let them smell each other's scents by rubbing a cloth on each of their bodies, recommends the Butte Humane Society website. Once either of them doesn't react badly to the scent, either by hissing or growling, introduce them. Let them meet for the first few times through a pet gate, with Fido on a leash to keep him from chasing Fluffy. If they behave well, reward each of them with some tasty treats so they associate each other with good things.
It may not always be feasible to adopt a young pup and kitten, but it's still possible to keep the peace and encourage friendship between older animals as well. If a dog has been raised among cats and has demonstrated a low prey drive toward cats and other small animals, he may be well-suited to bond with a kitty and vice versa, advises Catster. Small dogs may get along better with cats because there is less of a size difference between the two of them. Breeds that are small in stature and get along well with cats include the Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, Chihuahua, Maltese, Boston terrier, Bichon frise and Cavalier King Charles spaniel, according to Animal Planet.
In a multi-species household, you can take steps to ensure that both your cat and dog continue to get along after their introductory period passes. Feed each pet in separate areas so they don't fight over food. Give the kitty lots of elevated spaces in the form of carpeted shelves and cat trees to climb up and out of Fido's reach when she gets annoyed with him or his antics. Teach your pup basic obedience to control him if he gets too rough in his treatment of your kitty. Seek the help of an animal behaviorist should Fido demonstrate any signs of aggression or prey drive toward Fluffy.
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Cats and Dogs Can Live Together with Proper Introductions
- Haaretz.com: TAU Study Proves Friendly Relationship Between Cats, Dogs is Possible
- ScienceDaily: Dogs and Cats Can Live in Perfect Harmony In The Home, If Introduced The Right Way
- WebMD: When Dog and Cat Meet
- Animal Planet: Top 10 Cat-Friendly Small Dogs
- SunHerald.com: Cats and Dogs Really can Get Along
- Butte Humane Society: Introducing Dogs and Cats
- Catster: 9 Ways to Help Cats and Dogs Get Along Better
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images