Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Can dogs and cats live happily together? It can be hard to tell: For every YouTube video of cats making dogs' lives miserable, there is an equal number of adorable photos of the two species snuggling together. In reality, dogs and cats often are the best of friends — or will at least tolerate each other amicably enough.
But any time there’s more than one animal of any species in a home, there’s potential for conflict. That is especially true when you're talking about members of the same species whose activity levels aren’t compatible, or pets of different species whose biological and behavioral imperatives run counter to each other.
Despite their differences, though, multiple pets can often coexist happily, as long as their behaviors are understood and their needs are met. Here are some ways to ensure a mutually agreeable relationship.
Thinking of getting a puppy or kitten to liven up your older animal? Think twice — and then a third time — before doing so. It’s not always a bad idea, but too often it results in the senior pet either becoming neglected or being annoyed by the young whippersnapper.
If you do want to add a puppy or kitten, consider your older animal’s personality and size. If you have a grumpy Chihuahua, he’s not going to take kindly to being trampled by an energetic Lab puppy, and he could even get hurt. Choose a dog — or cat — who is closer to his size. It may also help if your new dog is of the opposite sex of the one you already have.
If you want to have two cats, it’s best to acquire them as littermates. Didn’t plan that far ahead? Choose an adult cat with a mild personality who won’t rock your older cat’s boat.
What about bringing a cat into a home with a dog, or vice versa? The two species can undoubtedly become best friends, but they aren’t natural-born buddies. They have distinctly different social structures, for one thing: Cats tend to be solitary, while dogs are more pack-oriented. Both are predators, but some dogs can be predatory toward cats unless they are brought up with them from an early age. Cats can have hissy fits when dogs invade their litterbox for “snacks,” and dogs may snarl at a cat strolling by their beloved food bowl — even if the cat has no interest in the dog’s food. You can overcome these types of conflicts by being aware of them and taking steps to avoid them.
Whether you’re dealing with interspecies or same-species tussles, the first step is to discover the source of the spat: prey drive, territory wars or resource ruckuses. Once you understand the root of the problem, you can solve it with training, behavior modification or environmental changes.
For instance, if your dog is raiding the cat’s litterbox, you may need to switch to a covered litterbox or put up a barrier that deters the dog but not the cat. Try a pet gate that your cat can scramble over but your dog can’t. Or cut a small square out of the bottom of the gate that’s just large enough for your cat to squeeze through.
To avoid food fights, feed pets separately. Put them in different rooms, or feed cats on an elevated surface and dogs in their crates or outdoors. Doing so ensures that everyone gets the appropriate amount of food and no one is stressed by having another animal trying to horn in on his dinner.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
A German Shepherd is being hailed as a
hero for leading firefighters to two young
children in his family's burning…
Eating feces is a weird but common
canine habit. Thankfully, there are ways
to stop the disgusting behavior.
From contact lenses to eye prosthetics,
vet medicine has seen many innovations
that help canines with eye problems.
Mikkel Becker explains the importance of
rewards, a crate and the 15-minute rule
for a successful potty pattern.
Secondhand smoke isn't just hazardous
for humans — it can cause many of the
same illnesses in pets, too.
From adopting on a whim to overlooking
black cats, here are the errors people
often make when rescuing shelter cats.
The APBT has a formidable reputation
and appearance, but he is meant to be a
dog who loves and accepts people.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.