Many rescue groups will label a dog a “no cat” dog, and won’t allow potential adopters with cats to even try living in a home with a cat. While it’s for everyone’s safety and well being, it’s not necessarily true that particular dog CAN’T live with a Cat, it’s a matter of patience, time and commitment on behalf of the owner. Which, if we’re being honest…most of us don’t have what it takes.
For those of you who do have what it takes, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel to find peace in your home between the cats and dogs. NOTE: this doesn’t mean everyone with cats should run out and adopt a “no cat” dog to test the theory, you have to be extremely dedicated to the safety of both pets and willing to take the time and energy to arrange a proper introduction, teach the dog not to chase or react to the cat, and to manage the environment to keep everyone safe.
- Short-term management: Don’t allow your dog to chase cats or other small animals, reinforcing their prey drive will only make the situation at home worse for everyone. You have to commit to keep your furry family members safe by managing your environment until you are 100% sure it will be o.k. for them not to be under your direct supervision. In some cases, a dog trainer or Behaviorist should be brought in to help you condition the dog not to respond to the cats, before they are introduced. This can be a lengthy process and it requires your 100% commitment. The Cat should have a pen or something to keep him safe from the Dog during the first stages and also a crate inside of the pen where he can retreat if he feels threatened by the dog.
- Long-term management: Your animals should always be under your direct supervision in the beginning stages. Only after you’re confident that your departure won’t lead to injury, leave for short periods of time, coming back frequently to check in on things, then gradually increase your time away from home. Some Dogs and Cats can never be alone unattended so you have to be o.k. with that possible scenario before you start the process.
- Commitment: Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to make it work? Can you sequester the cats and dogs until they’re ready to be introduced properly? Can you invest in a trainer to help you condition the dog from reacting to the cat? Are you committed to both sets of pets and prepared to make it work or do whatever it takes to keep them safe?
- Realistic Expectations: You have to find the right cats and the right dogs to mix together. Not all Felines and Canines are meant to be fur-ever friends, so have realistic expectations and listen to the wise counsel of the previous owner, foster group, etc. Take the dog’s history into account but only as a piece of the puzzle. Never believe something until you see it for yourself. A dog could have lived “with a Cat” but perhaps the cat was elderly and stayed in its own room all day long and they never interacted. Technically the dog “lived with” the Cat, even though it’s not in the way we would assume.
Creating and keeping balance in your home between the Canines and Felines isn’t impossible but it does require a level of dedication you have to be sure you have prior to attempting the integration process. If you’re considering adopting a Dog or Cat and aren’t sure how it would effect the current pet Feng Shui in your house, consult a behavior expert prior to starting the process.