Whether you planned to live in a cat/dog household, it just sort of snuck up on you, or you are still considering it, the integration of the species is a common challenge in modern homes. Just remember to face it all with a generous portion of patience.
The First Impression
The saying about only having one chance to make a first impression holds true for humans as well as pets. If you haven't introduced your pets to one another, you should take the time to do it right. This introduction will play a big part in determining if they will become best friends or fight like cats and… well, you know. Begin the process by keeping the pets separated for at least two days. This will give each a chance to get used to the environment and the new scent. After this, let your pets have a look at each other through a screen or some other type of divider. When the pets appear relatively comfortable, you can remove the barrier. Be sure to have control of your dog and be ready to divide the pair if needed! At this point, if all is going well, you may be tempted to just let the two go off together. Please, resist this idea. Cats and dogs need some time to get to know each other. You should keep their first encounters short and then longer after a time.
No matter how well your pets seem to be getting along, it’s important that your cat has a special place away from the dog and feels safe. This can be a room with a gate keeping the dog out or something similar. The important thing is that this is a place the cat can escape to for food, water, and bed without risk. Once your cat gets used to the idea of a dog in the area, this safe area will go a long way in keeping things friendly.
We all value our privacy, and cats are no different. Privacy becomes really important when it comes to the litter box. It needs to be placed somewhere the dog's unable to reach. You probably know that cats can be very sensitive. When it comes to your cat’s litter box, this is especially true. If she suspects the dog has been in or around the box, your cat may choose to abandon it in favor of other places around the house. This is definitely not a pleasant outcome! Another thing to remember about the litter box is that dogs have been known to feast on its contents. Not an appetizing thought! This is another very good reason for keeping the litter box in a place where the dog cannot go. Like all relationships, the interactions between your dog and cat will have their up and downs. It’s all part of the experience of owning pets.
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