A (new) friend is a treasure!
How many times have you heard it? What if the new guest doesn’t become friend with the other existing furry?
Be optimistic come on, a little bit of patience and willingness and even the bitter enemies, the dog and the cat, can start to love each other and to become brothers!
Dog and cat, despite their well-known differences, can manage to reach compromises for a happy friendship.
Here are our tips to turn them into friends easier…
Dog and Cat: the perfect moment to introduce them
Have you already shared your home with four-legged friends? If not, don’t worry! You will always have the luck and the time to become part of this extraordinary world.
But, how to choose between a faithful and cuddly little dog to take out for an evening walk and a purring independent kitten? Perhaps the right solution could be embracing in your family a sweet puppy and… a lovely kitty!
Actually, if dog and cat get used to each other from an early age they can happily become friends at home.
In particular, if their first meeting takes place while they’re still puppies, in the period of social development, they will learn to better understand and love each other since the beginning.
Five steps to create a happy friendship between dog and cat
If there’s already a four-legged friend in your family, follow our advice to build a great friendship between the new cohabitants since day one.
At first smell…
Once the newcomer has crossed the threshold, it’s time to start getting to know each other. However, it is advisable to start slowly by keeping your four-legged friends in different rooms for now and letting them get used to each other’s smell at first. In fact, a first step could be to exchange the covers of their beds, thus giving both the dog and the cat the opportunity to study their scents. You can also let the pets explore each other’s space (when they are not in the same place), because by often perceiving the smell of the other it is easier for them to get used to his presence in the house.
The meeting is approaching, nevertheless it is important for both pets to keep their spaces especially in the fundamental moment of the meal. For dogs as well as for cats, meal time can have emotional implications that change their behavior. Consequently, when you feed them, try to do it in two separate rooms so that each one has his own “comfort zone” where they can eat quietly and feel at ease. This is important to avoid the creation of a competitive situation between them which could undermine the balance of the relationship and their future friendship.
Create a relaxing atmosphere for your pets
The long-awaited moment has arrived: dog and cat are now ready to get to know each other. Before this, however, try to find a way to make them feel relaxed, so that they can face the situation with calmness and the right spirit.
But how to do it? You could take the dog for a long walk. In fact, in addition to physical activity, on this occasion the dog has the possibility to use his sense of smell. This sense has a strong calming power, which involves a great energy expenditure to analyze and decode the perceived smells, so that when he comes back home, tiredness leads him to be more quiet.
The first important step to make when they know each other is to choose a safe common environment, free of dangers and distractions, without noises and situations of which they may be afraid.
It is advisable to choose a neutral space, with open doors that can eventually allow them to escape. It is crucial for them not to feel forced into a limited space to get to know each other.
Your behavior must be cautious, stay apart and let them interact calmly because in this way both furries have the opportunity to study each other without fear at their first meeting.
Reward your beloved Pets
In case of aggressive attitudes, try to relax the atmosphere by recalling them, in order to take a break. When the interaction between the two pets will be playful and friendly, you can slowly get closer to become part of their new world.
A world no longer limited to a single four-legged friend and a friendship that will bring small changes in the life of all family members. So be attentive to both of them and, if they know how to behave themselves, you can reward them with some delicacies. In doing so, they will understand that they are proceeding in the correct way towards a peaceful coexistence and a long lasting friendship.
What if dog and cat are not willing to stay together?
As previously mentioned, in case your pets know each other since they were puppies, there is a high probability that friendship can arise naturally and spontaneously. It would be different if they meet as adults, when the friendship could be more complicated than expected. Remember that you will have to be really patient and it may be necessary to repeat the meeting phases above described a few times before reaching the desired goal of mutual friendship.
There are also some precautions to keep in mind to support the friendship process.
Understand the differences between dogs and cats
This step is essential since dogs generally are social animals, who adore friendship and social contact, while cats, on the other hand, tend to be solitary, independent and discreet. Let’s remember that our two friends belong to two extremely different species, both at an evolutionary and social level so, their vision of the world is different and consequently they are poles apart also in the way of expressing themselves: posture, attitude and reactions are interpreted differently, with the risk of being misunderstood. For example: the dog approaches sideways and sniffs “the rear end” to discover the others, to receive information about the other subject. The cat, on the other hand, will consider this action as an unacceptable intrusion of his privacy. So be patient and let them handle it themselves by interacting reciprocally, you’ll see that they will slowly get used to it.
It is important not to scare the cat
If the dog is initially impetuous, probably the cat will get scared and will not want to start a friendship. Therefore, be careful that the cat is not taken by surprise. For example, you can make sure that the two pets can see each other from a considerable distance so that both get ready to meet.
Do not force them
It is possible that the first few times dog and cat don’t want to stay together, and that one of them decides to stay apart. They probably still need to study each other from afar, through sight and smell, before coming into direct contact.
Do not force the cat to be close to the dog
Your kitten shouldn’t feel obliged to interact right away. The cat will need to take his time and will need to feel completely safe in every moment; remember to guarantee him an “escape route”.
Consider previous experiences
Unlike puppies, adults carry with them a lot of memories and notions given by experience. It is important to remember that they can be both positive and negative and that behavior that we consider unusual or unexpected from our pet could hide discomfort. In this case, let’s not be scared. We can instead contact an educator or a vet expert in animal behavior who will be able to help us understand and evaluate a way to re-establish the well-being of our pet.
And finally, after a short while and your right commitment, you will have the satisfaction to see them establishing a solid friendship and spending most of their time together, playing, cuddling and taking naps.
Mission accomplished: your home will become an even more loving place where even the most bitter enemies, the dog and the cat, cohabit friendly and harmoniously.
Article written with the consultancy of Chiara Festelli, Dog Trainer.