Tips for Owning a Dog & a Cat

Partial ownership of the couch is always a good step toward a healthy canine-feline relationship.

Partial ownership of the couch is always a good step toward a healthy canine-feline relationship.

Cats are adorable and dogs are cute, so what could go wrong when bringing the two together under one roof? Without a proper introduction and taking steps to make living arrangements comfortable, your house could turn into a repeating episode of the dog and cat equivalent of Tom and Jerry.

A Proper Introduction

If you haven't already introduced your feline and canine, you're in luck. Their first meeting will go a long way toward determining whether they get along as friends or fight like two angry exes. Start out by keeping them apart for two to three days at least. Rotate which rooms each one has access to so the newcomer, whether it's the cat or the dog, gets a feel for your house and is able to smell the resident animal. Always provide the separated pet with fresh water, food and, in the case of a cat, a litter box. After a few days, give them a glimpse of one another—through a mesh screen or baby gate—and then remove the physical barrier for a bit of one-on-one sniffing. Always have control of your pup.

Separate Food and Water

As friendly as your pup and kitty might become, they probably won't get to that stage in their relationship where they're comfortable sharing things or even eating next to one another. Separating their food and water bowls is a must, and you may need to elevate your cat's bowls or place them behind a baby gate to prevent your dog from sticking his big nose in there.

Safe Areas for Your Cat

Even in the best-case scenario, where your cat and dog become the best of friends, the cat still needs a safe haven to flee to. Your dog will annoy the nine lives right out of her from time to time. If you don't allow her on the couch or counters, give her a perch on the windowsill or keep a tall scratching post in the corner of the room.

Litter Matters

Some dogs can't resist the temptation of kitty litter, and their lip-smacking snack is even more disgusting when it's dirty kitty litter they're after. Keep the litter box behind a partially closed door, or put a baby gate in front of it to keep your pup from indulging in the canine pastime, but don't put it in an area that will startle your cat when she's doing her business. Laundry rooms, for example, can be scary and noisy places, with machines clicking on and off, and your cat may be too afraid to jump in her box if she's constantly frightened. Low-traffic and quiet places in your house serve as ideal litter box locations.

A Clawing Kitty

If your kitty has her front claws intact and you don't plan on getting her declawed, keep an eye on how she interacts with your pup. If she's constantly swatting at him, that could lead to a serious injury for your canine, plus he probably won't remain very calm and gentle when getting poked in the face with sharp objects. Consider outfitting your feline with claw caps, which are plastic casings that fit over her claws. When she throws them in your pup's face, he's getting mostly paw, a little plastic and nothing else.

Keep Calm

Remaining calm regardless of what your kitty and pup get into can prevent things from getting even worse. Your cat's going to jump onto places she's not allowed, your dog will bark at strangers outside and yes, they will probably find themselves in a scuffle at some point. Instead of yelling or jumping up and running over to them, give a sharp "Ah" and approach them calmly to break them up. If you get too excited, you'll just aggravate the situation.

Leaving the House

When the owner is away, the pets will play…and sometimes have an all-out brawl. Always keep your cat and dog separated for the first two or three weeks after their introduction. After that, you have to decide whether they get along well enough or their relationship is on the rocks. If they fight when you're home or bother each other, either crate your pup or keep your kitty in a separate room with her litter box, food and water.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images