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How to Introduce a Cat and a Dog

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Can cats and dogs really live together in harmony? In many households this is just the case. Of course, if one species has been brought up with the other from a young age, they will likely be completely accustomed to each other, although they may not tolerate other 'strangers' from the species in the same way. Some pet owners have even reported that a dog raised around a cat displays feline behaviours and vice versa. When considering whether your pet will adapt to a new family member of the opposite species, think about any prior encounters they have. Has your cat had a traumatic incident with a dog? Perhaps your dog has a history of chasing after cats? On the other hand, no previous interaction at all will mean that this new animal is completely strange and unfamiliar to your pet and may be treated with fear. 

Cat and a Dog
Introduce a Cat and a Dog

 Before allowing the animals to meet, it is recommended that you familiarize them with each other's scent. Try rubbing a blanket or sweater against yourself as well as one of the animals before letting the other pet smell it. This will let an animal get used to the new scent, as well as view it as friendly, since their smell is associated with yours. After a day or so, swap the blankets to allow their scents to mingle. When introducing a new animal into your home, always make sure that early encounters are supervised and that the dog is firmly held, while the cat has a safe place to retreat to if they feel too threatened. It is easier and kinder to the animals to control the dog than the cat. 

You should only introduce a new animal to your home when your dog is well behaved and responds to you as the alpha male of the home. If your dog does not see you as the ultimate authority in his home he will not take kindly to you bringing in addition 'members' to his pack. Having a dog that responds to your voice and commands will also make it safer for both animals during the transition period as you can easily let him know what behaviour is acceptable, and what is not. Keep the first few meetings brief, of 5 - 10 minutes, and gradually increase this time over a period of days. Hopefully you should see both animals become calmer after a few meetings although they shouldn't be left alone unsupervised until they can both be loose in the same room without being over excited or scared. Have patience with these meetings - some cats and dogs adapt quickly to each other in just a few hours, while others may take several weeks to become comfortable in each other's company. Let the cat decide on their own level of comfort around your dog. If he wants to run and hide, do not force him to stay exposed, and certainly never take the cat closer to the dog than he is comfortable with. Some cats may be quite brave, and wander up to your dog for closer inspection. If this happens, try to keep your dog calm, and in a sitting or lying position while the cat approaches and sniffs him. 

Make sure that your cat has a safe place where they can retreat to to be away from the dog and feel calm and secure. When caring for a cat and dog in the same home, there are a few things that you will need to watch out for. Don't feed your cat and dog in the same place, as this can cause some dogs to become territorial and aggressive around their food dish. You might want to place your cat's food dish in a place where it can't be reached by the dog. Cat food tends to be richer than dog food, and while it may be a tasty gourmet meal for a dog, chomping down too much of kitty's dinner will lead to weight gain, and of course, a hungry cat! Another temptation for dogs is the cat's litter box. As disgusting as it sounds, it is common for dogs to find cat droppings to be irresistible as they are full of protein and partially digested cat food. Buying a covered or domed litter tray should fix this problem, and also ensure your dog does not disturb your cat while he is using the litter tray. Lastly, when you have a cat and dog in the same home pay special attention to their health. 

Cats and dogs can spread fleas, worms, parasites and other diseases to one another, so make sure that both animals are up to date with their medications and vaccinations at all times. Always read the labels of their medications carefully, as some dog medicines, such as topical flea treatments, can be highly toxic to cats and the animals should be kept apart until it is safe.

One Story of Cat and Dog Friendship

Monday, May 19, 2014

JJ the cat and Rocky the dog

JJ was an immense cat. His father was a big Manx, that we nicknamed "refrigerator." After JJ's father died, he became the king of the jungle on our farm. Our Great Pyrenees dogs of course were about as big as any dog gets, but JJ still ruled the small farm we live on.

Cat and Dog Friendship
One Story of Cat and Dog Friendship
He didn't associate with cats or kittens, and he insisted that the dogs treat him as an equal, if not superior. His favorite friend was our big male called Rocky. Rocky was also JJ's bed. When all was calm on the farm and it was nap time, Rocky slept under a tree with JJ parting the long white mane on his neck or fur on his back to make a bed. Heavy as JJ was, Rocky didn't mind letting him sleep where he wanted.
In appreciation, JJ brought his best friend the first portion of most meals. Rabbits were thinned out from our field and on the other side of the road in front of our house. JJ could be heard uttering a guttural growl as he carried a rabbit to drop at Rocky's feet. Sometimes JJ sat as Rocky ate it all and sometimes, JJ allowed Rocky to get the first bite before carrying it away to finish it off.

Once I as I carried scraps out to Rocky, I heard JJ coming home with his growl. "Well, boy," I said, "I hope you are still hungry."
I almost screamed as I noticed JJ dropping a very large rat at Rocky's feet. Purring and rubbing up to Rocky, JJ was obviously very proud of his gift, but Rocky tried to look the other way.
Picking up the rat, JJ moved it closer to Rocky and then moved away to watch Rocky dine on his gift. It didn't happen. I watched several minutes as JJ kept moving the rat closer and Rocky kept moving further away. JJ was plainly getting upset and insisting that his gift be accepted.
Finally I returned outside carrying a small trash can, and when JJ walked around the backside of the dog, I scooped up the rat and carried it out to the burning trash.

The sight of JJ when he walked around and discovered the rat was totally gone was worth watching. He looked down at the spot where he had dropped it last and finally looked up at Rocky.
JJ and started purring loudly. He was so proud that Rocky had finally eaten his gift that he meowed and rubbed all over him until long after I returned to the house. They were bonded from that moment on for life and Rocky seemed grateful that I had removed the rat that he just couldn't sink his teeth into.

Sandy writes humorous columns for her local newspaper. Her stories are taken from children and animals all of which seem to teach us lessons on a daily basis. In addition Sandy who has raised Missouri Foxtrotters for 25 years is now rescuing unwanted horses and seeks financial help. Her farm would support more but lack of funds prevents her from taking more than the four needy horses she has. So far she has turned down one mule and 3 horses needing a 'forever home' due to lack of funds for feed and vet care.

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