Dogs and cats are often presented as the worst enemies, but this is not always the case. Who assures it is Sophie Hall, a researcher at the University of Lincoln, in the United Kingdom, and co-author of a scientific paper – published by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2018 – according to which the friendly coexistence between pets of both species, despite popular beliefs about being treated “like dog and cat”, it is perfectly possible.
The conclusions of the work are based on the responses of 748 families from Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada, in whose homes the two species of pets live. More than 80% of respondents said that animals live together without major problems, and only 3% mentioned problems in their relationships.
In any case, the big question is: how to get them to get along? Should we do something or just let them stay until they get used to each other? The following are some recommendations to make dogs and cats adapt to each other in the fastest and friendliest way possible.
- The presentation – The first impression, as usually happens among human beings, is key. The person in charge of doing so must be calm, to transmit that calm to the animals. Of course, the situation is different depending on which of the two, if the dog or cat, is the pet that already resides in the house and should get used to sharing it with the other.If the dog is not a puppy, for that first contact the leash can be placed, to be able to control it in case of an unexpected reaction. The most advisable thing is to give them time to first observe each other at a distance, and then to smell them. This is his main way of knowing himself.
- The food – The one related to food is, of course, a fundamental aspect. On the one hand, it is recommended to serve the food first to the pet that has spent more time in the house, to avoid feeling displaced. For the newly arrived animal, almost all the rules are new, so it will adapt more easily. On the other hand, it may also be convenient for the cat’s food to be somewhere high, to prevent the dog from eating it. In this sense, you should also ensure that the cat has spaces in which, by instinct, it feels comfortable: high places and corners and recesses in which it can hide.
- Give them time – At first, it is recommended that the two animals be in separate spaces and that little by little they begin to share the same site, but always with human supervision. They may take more or less to be accepted. The adaptation time will depend on them, and monitoring can also be reduced gradually. In addition, the age of the animals is important, since the younger one of them is, or both, the process is usually easier. Quite the opposite happens, of course, when trying to force physical proximity between the two: they can be stressed and attacked, and most likely this will make the whole process difficult.
- Utensils and toys – Each pet must have its own spaces and its own elements: bed, containers for food and water; sandpit, toys, surfaces for cats to scratch. It is convenient not to modify the spaces too much or change the things of the oldest pet. In case any change is necessary, the most appropriate will be to try to make it gradually, before the arrival of the new inhabitant of the home.
- Equal love – Jealousy, which causes so much damage among humans, also occurs in pets. If more caresses or gestures of affection towards one of the animals are lavished, it is probable that the other warns him and then, consequently, has bad behaviors. Try to do it equally. Therefore, the human’s relationship with each animal is also key to the relationship between them.