Dogs and cats have a reputation for not getting along, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In many households around the world, pets of both species have learned to live together peacefully. Some even seem to like each other’s company. The trick is socializing your puppy to live with the cat. Well, I suppose you could try socializing the cat, but we know how that would go over. (Cat lovers, no nasty letters about our sarcasm please!)
Seriously though, why does the dog need to be socialized to the cat and not vice versa? The truth is, most cats simply are not as easily trainable as their canine counterparts. They have a mind of their own. Dogs, on the other hand, are people plesasers and can be trained to do what we ask. Therefore, you’ll have an easier time teaching your dog to tolerate the cat then you will coercing your independent-thinking cat to give the new puppy a chance. Face it, nature will win that battle!
Socializing your puppy to live with the cat is going to require some research from you because there are some breeds that simply do not do well with cats or other small animals. Greyhounds, for example, are notorious for their incredibly strong prey drive – it’s the reason they chase those mechanical rabbits around the track during dog racing. No matter how hard you work with a greyhound you may never be able to safely leave it alone with your cat.
The majority of dog breeds, particularly those not meant for hunting small game, can live comfortably with a cat.
Once you have selected a safe breed to bring into your home, you’ll need to make it easy for the two pets to get to know each other safely. If you have a crate for the puppy, this is a great time to use it. By having the puppy in the crate, the cat can sniff around him without having to worry about an attack. The puppy can also become familiar with the cat’s smell.
Another step you might want to consider is rubbing towels on the cat and the dog. Place the towel that smells like the dog under the cat’s food bowl and put the other towel under the dog’s bowls. By doing this, both animals will begin to become familiar with one another’s smell and that will make the introduction phase move a lot faster.
After the animals have gotten used to one another in these two ways, you should allow them to interact without the crate. Make sure these encounters are carefully supervised so you can step in before either one hurts the other. Incidentally, never leave both animals free if someone is not around to watch them carefully.
Create opportunities which allow for socializing your puppy to live with the cat. For example, while you’re watching television, hold the cat on your lap and brush her while the person seated next to you holds the dog and feeds him treats for staying calm. These encounters will help the two of them get used to each other. Eventually, they’ll move around one another as if they’d lived together all of their lives.
Also, it’s important not to keep the animals separated too much. When the dog is kept away from the cat, each time they do have contact the dog is going to become overly excited. You’re better off working hard to help them feel comfortable with one another. If you need additional tips for socializing your puppy to live with the cat, try reading Cats Living with Dogs.