Although coexistence between dogs and cats is considered difficult or conflictive, this is not always the case in practice. Depending on the personality of each animal and the way the first contact happens, they may get along well in the long term Dog Board & Train. Understand more about this topic and see 5 tips that veterinarians can recommend to caregivers to ensure a peaceful coexistence between dogs and cats!
Putting a dog and a cat together does not mean that their coexistence will be bad, says study
The article Behavior problems of cats reared individually or in coexistence with other animals (cats, dog) , published in the scientific journal Folia Veterinaria, from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Košice (Slovakia), proposed a study on the behavior of domestic cats who live with dogs. The research considered four groups: families with a cat; families with two cats; families with three or more cats; families with one or more cats and a dog.
The methodology basically consisted of direct observation of the animals (to identify possible aggressive behaviors) and questionnaires applied to the families. The results showed that the two species can coexist amicably. Adopting the cat before the dog can even contribute to the development of a stronger friendship between the two species, especially if contact between the two occurs at an early age (cat up to 6 months and dog up to 1 year). This is because, according to the study, exposure of one species to another at an early age greatly facilitates the mutual recognition of animal body language.
According to the stories of the families evaluated, the relationship between the cat and the dog was almost always neutral or positive. It was also observed that an interaction based on imitation hunting games is quite common. Only in 20% of families was aggression observed against cats that were brought into the home for a short period of time.
Tips to ensure a peaceful coexistence between dogs and cats
Although cats and dogs can coexist peacefully, it is important to understand the personality of each animal and not insist on forced coexistence with other species, as veterinarian Izadora Trindade states. According to the specialist, this can cause health problems in pets.
“There are animals that are calmer and others that are more difficult (that do not adapt well to coexistence with other species). Cats, in particular, can suffer many problems due to stress. It is common, for example, for the feline to develop cystitis or suffer loss of appetite (which could trigger liver disease) due to stress. Therefore, it is important to be very cautious when introducing coexistence with a dog or even another cat, since this causes a change in the animal’s routine,” says the specialist.
The specialist also suggested other general tips that can be passed on to pet caregivers:
- Train the dog to facilitate coexistence
Using dog training techniques is a great strategy to improve the daily interaction between dogs and cats. According to the veterinarian, this measure can make a big difference, especially in a first contact. “What you can do to try to help this process is to train the dog, so that he learns to behave and respect the cat’s space more,” she says.
- Leave the animals separate at first
Another very good suggestion is to be careful when making the first contact between the animals and pay attention to the behavior of both during this process. “Whenever a different animal is introduced into another’s territory, the ideal is to leave them separated at first, in different places, but so that they can smell each other. Later, after having made the first contact with each other, it is best to always be nearby to keep an eye on them until they get used to each other,” Izadora recommends.
- Use synthetic pheromones for cats
Using diffusers with specific scents to calm animals is another trick that usually works very well. The veterinarian points out that this can favor coexistence between dog and cat. “There are some synthetic pheromones for cats (plug-in devices) that give off a certain smell to calm the feline and, thus, help in its adaptation process at home,” she suggests.
- Separate the food of the two species
When feeding animals, it is necessary to take a series of precautions to avoid fights and accidents. According to the veterinarian, the best thing to do is to organize the diet of the dog and cat. “Another important tip is to separate the food of the two species. The ideal is to place the cat’s food in a high place, so that the animals do not fight and the dog does not eat the cat’s food, which can be harmful to its health,” she explains.
- Give equal attention to the dog and the cat
When dividing attention between animals, it is very important not to neglect either of them in daily life. According to Izadora Trindade, this point is essential to avoid conflicts. “The ideal is to divide attention between the animals. Don’t pay more attention to one than the other, for example, since both species perceive this difference. Although the cat is a more independent animal, it also needs to receive attention and affection. Therefore, do not underestimate this side of the feline and try to give equal attention to both. A good tip is to offer snacks to both at the same time so that they understand that they are friends and can live in peace, without being jealous,” concludes the veterinarian.