The Best Dogs for Cat Owners

"So, you think it'll be tuna casserole again?"
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Bringing an adventure-loving, tail-wagging, accident-waiting-to-happen bundle of fur home to meet your feline soul mate takes a little finesse. Kitty will probably need a few bribes to come around. If you choose the right pup, though, she may eventually enjoy an afternoon snooze next to your hairy beast.

Predator vs. Prey

When choosing a pal for your finicky feline, look for breeds with low prey drive. Some dogs, such as the Siberian husky and many terriers, have very strong predatory instincts. For them, chasing small animals is instinctive, and instinct is hard to resist. Developed through selection to rid property of rats and other vermin, a Parson Russell (formerly called Jack Russell) terrier may think your diva is just another rodent to capture and kill. Herding breeds, such as the border collie, may figure Kitty needs rounding up regularly. Spaniels and retrievers, however, are built to take direction from their humans and locate, rather than dispose of, game. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, for instance, typically has a sweet nature and much prefers cuddling to conquering.

Furry Points to Ponder

It's best to work out your own notion of an ideal canine before you hunt for one that suits Kitty. If you want a petite pal who won't hog the covers at night, the Chihuahua, Maltese, Shih Tzu and bichon frise all make Animal Planet's list for cat-friendly small dogs. If you crave a pup with more pounds to love, Labrador retrievers, boxers and golden retrievers are well-known for trainability and easy-going natures -- meaning your new pal will accept your feline princess as his queen if you ask him to.

Other considerations include the time you have for grooming your pup. If it's minutes per week, cross off the Maltese and the golden. If you spend exercise time in yoga pants, and equate long, brisk walks after work with torture, nix the Lab and give your heart to a Chihuahua.

Ages and Stages

The best case scenario would be to introduce a new puppy to a kitten. That path is golden, because you can convince them as they age that they're actually siblings. If you've got an older, gentle diva with a sense of humor, she can teach a puppy to mind his cat-manners with a few smacks on his hard head. However, claws can seriously wound canine eyes and noses, so Kitty will need restraining if she's way too eager about helping you train Rover. If you're longing to rescue an adult canine pal from the shelter, you job is half done if you find one who has experience living with and pleasing cats.

Tips for the Meet and Greet

Bringing your new pup home when you have plenty of time to supervise the introduction will decrease your stress level. Even a small dog can kill your diva, and a young puppy or toy breed may need protection from Kitty. Plan to closely monitor every encounter until you're sure neither will hurt the other. Immediately restraining and placing them in separate rooms for aggressive acts and rewarding acceptable behavior with lots of treats will help convince the pair that living together might not be so bad.

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