A scene in Disney’s “Sofia the First” comes to mind when I think about cats and dogs living together. Amber, Sophia’s step sister, accidentally turns Sofia into a purple cat when she wishes upon a wishing well. She does this because she wants their father to stop spending too much time with Sofia. When the family dog comes within a few feet of Sofia who is now a cat a chase ensues. The dog is determined to get the cat at all costs.
The assumption that cats and dogs cannot live together peacefully has come about due to the many cats that have died in the paws of canines and the many dogs that have gone blind or had fatal wounds at the claws of felines.
So as a dog lover who wants to have many other pets including cats, what do you do?
Select younger animals
You’ve probably heard the saying that it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s true in this case because it’s easier to train a puppy to live amicably with cats than it is to teach an older dog that already sees cats as prey. A dog that has grown up in a household full of cats does not view them as prey. They are just other animals with which to co-exist. If you want to have both cats and dogs in your place, buy or adopt both animals when they are young and train them to co-exist peacefully.
Cats have a way of telling dogs off where they arch their backs and hiss very loudly, nails ready for war. This reaction tends to bring out the predator in most dogs, especially those with a heritage of hunting smaller animals. If you can avoid this first reaction when you first introduce the two species, half your battle is won. Once your dog associates your cat with hunting and predation, it’s hard to re-train him. Introduce them slowly and feed then both lots of treats so that the dog associates the cat with a pleasant experience.
In case you feel your dog is likely to attack the cat, don’t leave them in the same room and hope for the best. Put necessary barriers in place until you have trained the dog not to attack the cat. This can be putting the dog on a lead or locking up the cat in a safe place when you are not around to supervise the dog.
With proper training, you can teach your dog not to attack your felines. Giving the dog treats when he and the cat are in the same room and he does not attack reinforces this positive behavior. With time, he’ll learn to restrain himself from attacking the cat and they can live peacefully and you can finally have your favorite animals under the same roof.
It’s possible for cats and dogs to live under the same roof, but proper planning on your part is needed. Either choose younger dogs or choose a breed that has a history of not attacking cats. With proper training though, it’s possible to make any dog stop seeing cats as prey and as animals to co-exist with in harmony.