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7 Easy Tips for Cats and Dogs Living Together Peacefully

Updated on April 22, 2012

Bella and Shadow: Best Buds

Cats and Dogs: In Perfect Harmony

Every time I view this picture of my cat and dog, I smile from ear to ear. Bella was asleep on her couch pillow while we were watching television.  Shadow decided he wanted to share it.  We do not know how he got there, but Bella didn't seem to mind sharing.  It wasn't always as harmonious as it is today between them. There are still days when my older and larger dog, Emily, takes issue with Shadow rubbing on her leg. My cat, Shadow, cannot understand why Emily should oppose this loving gesture, so every now and then he attempts to achieve his rub only to be chastised once more.

1. Introduce your pets to each other slowly; at their own comfort levels.

These levels will be based on their own life experiences with other pets and environments. If they are older pets, they will likely have more protective instincts from previous experiences that caused harm or fear. If possible, it is better to introduce your pets while they are puppies and kittens since they have no initial fear. Dogs will lick little kittens and Cats will tolerate rambunctious little puppies, of course; until they get too annoyed. Isolate new pets for a period of time so they can acclimate to their new environment by getting used to the new smells before coming face to face with other pets. It is very stressful for all the pets both old and new when new changes occur. Your pets want to smell each other at first. It is their way of learning and saying hello. This can be good but it can also turn into bad very quickly. You must be in total control of this introduction. If it goes well, your pets may find harmony on a faster learning curve. If it goes bad....the cat has a long term memory and will not trust the dog for a longer period of time. Which leads to #2.

Cats and Dogs Capture Our Hearts Forever

2. Allow NO Aggressive behavior from either side.

You are the alpha leader of your clan. Fear is a learned behavior. Do not teach it. Do not let the dog run after the cat. You must maintain zero tolerance for aggressive behavior from either side.  Stop it immediately.  Firmly instruct your dog to stop.  Pick up your cat and reassure its safety.  Your cat must know that it is safe if you ever want to have harmony between them. Your cat thinks it is all about is right. When the cat feels safe, it is because the dog is not being aggressive, everyone remains calm and the cat remains happy. When the cat is happy, everyone is happy. In our house we call Shadow, The King.

Emily Loves Her Own Bed

3. Each pet should have their own safe sleeping areas and feeding areas.

Whether the dogs sleep in crates or beside the bed, they like their own bedding. Cats will sleep all around the house. Mine have always liked to burrow under the blanket on the bed, under the bed, behind chairs, and under pillows. We always have to check before sitting in our house. Occasionally take the covers off the dog bedding and wash it. It is healthier for the entire family. Each pet has its own food bowl; though Bella thinks every food bowl is an invitation. I have had to move the cat feeding station up to higher ground to keep the dogs from snacking. That holds true with the litter box as well; no comment. There are several watering sources both inside and out that all the pets seem to share without mind. No problems with community watering holes.

4. Give all your pets equal attention.

Giving your pets equal attention let's them know they are all important to you. Having toys to play with will help your pet spend energy in a positive way. Dogs need lots of bones and chew toys, so your cat does not become one. Never try to make one pet jealous of another. They do get hurt feelings becoming resentful and spiteful. This will also drive your dog crazy and will cause the dog to become aggressive to the other pets especially when you are not around. Dogs will try to rule at first, it is their nature. However, cats will ultimately rule, just because they are cats and we all know...Cats Rule and Dogs Drool. Just ask Shadow!

5. Keep everyone brushed and free of fleas.

Good pet hygiene is good for everyone. No one likes a flea epidemic. I have raised multiple indoor/outdoor pets for years and have not had this problem. Flea meds are a must have. Frontline for dogs and cats work great when you use the product as directed. Buying online will save you tons of money. Always buy enough for free shipping.

6. Keep everyone vaccinated; especially for rabies.

It keeps everyone safe especially when your cats and dogs are indoor/outdoor and may come into contact with wilder creatures and their habitats. Check your local area for required shots. Municipalities can vary and fines can be very expensive if your pet is not in compliance. Even though I live in a suburb of Dallas we have had reports of a bobcat, wild pigs, coyote, skunks, rats, and armadilla around the neighborhood. Some squirrels are carriers. Dogs are always looking to roll around in something totally undesirable to the rest of us. So be aware and be safe.

Crate Training Gives Dogs Boundaries and Teaches Discipline When Done Properly

Bella In her Crate
Bella In her Crate

7. Create Specific Barriers so relationships can be built within a controlled environment.

You will be happier and your pets will be happier. This can be done with crating, baby gates, and the like. At first your new pet will want to know they are safe. They will be happy when they understand where to eat and sleep. We crated our larger dog as a puppy and she would go into her crate (her bed) even after she was older and we did not require it. She slept in there with the door open. It was her safe place. Pets need lots of sleep. When your pets do not get enough restful sleep, they will get stressed, tense, and grumpy just like people. Your cat will sleep anywhere it can find a quiet safe place. Sometimes in the strangest places.

When We Married, I Had 2 Cats and He Had 1 Dog

My husband and I married and our little family united, 2 cats and 1 large dog. Though we were very happy and anxious to have our happy little family united as one, our pets were not very pleased with this new living arrangement. Our dog Emily loved my visits and welcomed me into her life with open paws. She was OK when my stuff moved in, but then she got a whiff of something that would change all those warm fuzzies, Shadow and Lucky. The cat carriers entered and shortly thereafter the litter box. Emily pretended they did not exist, she was in denial. I kept the cats in a separate room with the door shut until they became calm and felt safe in their new home. Once cats have been fed and use their litter box a few times, they realize it is a safe place to conduct business and do not feel the need to run. Kittens are indifferent and will just ransack the house given the opportunity. So after a few days of captivity I give the cats a little more room to roam when the dog is outside. They smell everything and see everything in a given room. I have learned that cats know exactly where everything is placed. If you move something an inch they know it and will investigate its position. When they enter room that has been changed they go back into alert mode. Dogs could care less what moved as long as it was not the food bowl or the bed.

It Will Take About 3 - 4 Months to Find Harmony

Once Emily could learn to relax when the cats would enter the room, the cats learned to remain calm as well. When the cats become alarmed; they run. When they run; the dog chases. It is a genetic response that you must break before it takes control of your domain. Remember, you are the alpha leader. Once every pet stays calm around each other and a trust develops, they will begin to ignore each other as they do not see each other as a threat. I have found this to take about 3 to 4 months at least. You will go through periods of testing when one day is great and the next there is altercation. So never take for granted your position of the alpha leader, the clan will challenge your authority. It is what they do.

Tips on What to Consider Before Introducing More Pets Into Your Home

A Puggle Puppy Came to Live With Us.

After a year everyone was getting along great and then we decided to get a puggle puppy. Since all our animals are rescues, my husband drove for hours to a rescue our girl. We adopted Bella. She has been a joy. My cats had to go through the cycle all over again. Though, we had a basement in the new house and put a porthole in the basement door so they could come and go downstairs to the food and litter box as they so pleased. The dogs stayed upstairs and could not reach the cat food or disturb their safe area. It worked out well. Bella and Shadow became buds. Shadow was much more tolerant of the dogs than Lucky. Lucky would just leave the room when it became too close for his comfort.  We lost Lucky this past year to Cancer.  It is fun to watch all the relationships develop and become accustomed to the family clan rules. Remember You are the alpha leader.


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    • profile image

      Ella age 12 

      2 years ago

      I want a German spaniel, but I don't know if Lilly my cat will like it. Can German spaniels get along with cats? Please help me

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Thanks Susan, I have a pic in mind to send to you. Haven't taken the time to search for it yet. You will laugh when you see it. Last night we have two dogs and a cat taking up most of the furniture in the living room while we all watched a movie.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great tips! We had a cat before getting our first dog and the cat was pretty upset when we brought the first puppy home. The cat always kept his distance from both dogs. But they did have moments.

      Loved the pictures of your pets.

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Thanks for visiting AliciaC, and Eiddwen. I hope you all come again soon. Your comments are appreciated. I love my animals and will likely have more stories forthcoming about their antics.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      I loved this hub and the beautiful photos as well.

      Thank you for sharing and take care


    • profile image 

      8 years ago

      Good job - pets are very much part of the family and should be treated as such

      I vote up

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed reading your great tips for ensuring peaceful coexistence between cats and dogs. I loved the photos and videos too! I have three cats and two dogs in my house, who all get on well together. Luckily I didn’t have any problems introducing them to each other. Thanks for an interesting and informative hub.


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