Are Cats and Dogs Really Enemies
It’s one of those truisms that we tend to take for granted: cats and dogs fight like, well, cats and dogs. Everybody knows that cats and dogs don’t get along. Don’t they? Isn’t it true? Well, maybe not. New research is casting doubt on this age-old stereotype about two of our best friends.
According to researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel, it’s perfectly possible for cats and dogs to get along in the same home. Researchers interviewed some 200 people who owned both cats and dogs for their study. Surprisingly, they found that two-thirds of the respondents in the study reported that their cats and dogs got along fine and were friends.
One-fourth of the respondents reported that their pets were indifferent to each other. And, in 10 percent of the homes, the cats and dogs actively disliked each other. Aggression and fighting were reported in these homes.
There does appear to be a formula involved for nurturing a successful relationship between cats and dogs in the home. The researchers reported that successful dog-cat relationships occurred most often when cats and dogs were introduced into the home at a young age (before six months for cats and before one year for dogs); and when the cat was present in the home first.
Researchers involved in the study suggested that one possible reason why cats and dogs have historically had problems getting along well lie with communication difficulties. Afterall, they are different species with different body language. For instance, a dog wags his tail to indicate friendship. A cat swishes his tail to indicate irritation. Cats and dogs signal aggression, playfulness and other emotions in different ways. It may be hard for these species to read each other’s body language unless they are raised together from a young age.
If you are introducing a dog into your home and you already have a cat, do try to do so while both animals are still young. This will give you the best chance for success. It’s often best to have both animals in pet carriers when you first bring the new pet into the house. Make sure that you have set aside a room or rooms in the house for the cat so he or she can have some space where the dog cannot go. You can do this by setting up some baby gates or pet gates in your home.
You can allow the cat (or kitten) and dog (or puppy) to see each other through their pet carriers for the first day or two just for a short time. Your dog (or puppy) will likely be very curious about the cat and may try to hang around the rooms where your cat is seeking safety. Make sure the dog cannot get into these rooms and don’t let him harass the cat.
After a couple of days, depending on how the meetings in the pet carriers are going, you can allow the dog and cat to meet while the dog is leashed. You may wish to keep the cat in the crate or hold on to him securely. Be careful that you are not scratched. Don’t let the dog and cat get too close to each other. You can continue to let them meet this way for a couple of days. As they get used to each other you can judge when you feel like allowing them to meet standing on the floor. Do have the cat’s crate nearby in case the cat needs to make a hasty exit.
It may take a few days or even weeks for the cat and dog to work out their new relationship. It’s possible that your dog may get slapped a few times. Use your best judgment about any injuries. Most cat slaps will not seriously hurt your dog but will help establish boundaries that your dog needs to learn to respect. However, if your dog is really hurt you need to take him to the veterinarian and keep your cat and dog apart for a while.
On the other hand, do not allow your dog to manhandle your cat. If your cat and dog are approximately the same size then your cat should be able to handle the situation. But, if the dog or puppy is much larger than your cat, it’s possible that your dog could hurt your cat even if he’s only trying to play. Try to be on hand to supervise all interactions between the cat and dog until you are sure they have worked out their relationship.
Cats and dogs do not have to be enemies but it usually takes some work to ease into their relationship. Help them as much as possible and your dog and cat can develop a friendship that will last for years.
About the Author
David Beart is the owner of http://www.professorshouse.com . This site covers a wide selection of topics including relationships, family, cooking and other household issues.
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