Cats & Dogs: Enemies or Best Friends?

dog&catIn honor of the new film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which opened this past weekend in theaters across the country, DogTails is tackling the fascinating relationship between America’s most popular pets.  For every story of a dog who loves cats, there are even more stories of dogs who love fighting with cats.

In honor of this love-hate relationship, we have compiled the following tips to help all the brave animal lovers who share their homes with a dog and a cat.  Follow these tips, and you can help keep the peace between your two furry best friends.

The most important rule of introducing a new dog to your cat (and vice versa) is to take it slow.  When it comes to a dog and a cat’s first meeting, do not just open the door and let them chase each other.  Instead, let the two animals slowly move closer to each other, while maintaining control of them at all times.  As a result, it is best to have another person help with the introductions, so that both animals can be quickly pulled away if necessary.

As always, treats are helpful to encourage good behavior in your dog.  Ask the dog to look away from the cat and look at you.  If he complies, give him a treat – he is doing very well!  If he does not comply, continue working with the dog to calm him down and divert his attention away from the animal. Toys and treats and words of praise are all helpful here.

The ultimate goal is to allow the dog and cat to interact without chasing and lunging.  Some dogs will need more guidance and training than others – it depends on the dog’s breed and history.  Also, you will want to muzzle larger or more aggressive dogs when they are first introduced to smaller animals like cats, to ensure that no one gets hurt.

These rules are adapted from instructions provided by the ASPCA on their website.  Click here to read the full article, which goes into even greater detail on the subject.  See also this article from About.com, which includes even more helpful hints.

Finally, it is also important to remember that some dogs may not be suitable for a home with a cat or cats.  Extremely aggressive or predatory dogs may attack or even kill a cat if left unsupervised.  This activity could occur even if the dog and cat appear to get along when you are present; as a result, experts recommend separating the animals when you leave the house.

If you are a cat owner thinking about adopting a new dog, inquire with the shelter to see if any of their dogs have lived with cats previously. If you plan to adopt a purebred dog, keep in mind that certain breeds – including sighthounds (greyhounds, whippets, etc.) and terriers – are typically the most aggressive towards cats.

If you are a dog owner who is planning on adopting a cat, monitor your dog’s behavior around other cats and small animals, and think about introducing the cat to the home when your dog is still a puppy.  According to the ASPCA, puppies raised with cats are less likely to be predatory towards them as they grow older.  Most dog experts report that nearly any dog can learn to live comfortably around cats, if they are properly introduced and trained.

For those readers headed to the Cats & Dogs movie, we hope you enjoy the fictionalized hijinks of the furry stars.  And for those brave souls who share their home with these oft-feuding animals, we salute you.  Both dogs and cats bring joy, fun and love to your life.  Having both may mean twice the work, but it also means twice the fun!

Do you have any favorite dog and cat photos or videos to share?  How about a story of two particular loving – or feuding – felines and canines?  Share them here, or via Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by fazen via Flickr.

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