Ask Doctor Dog: Can Cats and Dogs Get Along?
We've all heard the phrase "to fight like cats and dogs," but is there any truth to it? Plenty of people love both dogs and cats. If you're wondering if it's possible to keep them both without constant chaos, you're in the right place.
You can ask me any questions whenever you want. Then look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets.
The Question: Can Cats and Dogs Be Friends?
Dear Doctor Dog,
Last weekend, I proposed to my girlfriend. I'm happy to report that she said yes! There's only one problem: I have a cat, but she loves dogs. She has always had a dog up until about a year ago when her old dog past away. She wanted to give it some time before adopting another, but now, she's worried it might be an issue once we move in together.
Is it possible to keep dogs and cats together without a problem? I've seen loads of videos of cats and dogs playing together, but IDK if that's realistic. Is Instagram lying to me, or are cat and dog friends a thing?
– Daniel Matthews from Mesa, Arizona
Doctor Dog's Answer: In Many Cases, Yes!
As a dog myself, I can confidently say that I'm friends with two cats. Well, one is my friend, and the other tolerates me. He seems to be warming up to me since I quit trying to lick him in the face. In all seriousness, dogs and cats can get along, but it depends on the temperament of the animals in question. Puppies and kittens who grow up together usually learn to get along right away. Introducing a new pet to the mix is a little tougher, but it's possible if you choose the right pairing.
The fact that your fiancée doesn't have a new dog yet makes matters easier. When you adopt a new dog, you can give the shelter a heads-up that you need one that gets along with cats. Generally, dog breeds that have a high prey drive, like terriers, aren't the best fit for cohabitating with cats. It all comes down to individual personality, however. Cats tend to get along best with laidback dogs that are more likely to pass out on the couch all day than chase them around the house. A hyper or barky dog is more likely to make your cat want to crash on the neighbor's couch while they look for a new place.
When you think you've found a dog that might be a good fit, introduce the two animals gradually. When they first meet, make sure the cat is at the dog's eye level, so they're not too intimidated. Make sure someone has a firm grip on each animal to avoid possible negative interactions that'll take longer to come back from. Keep interactions short and positive, offering a reward after each one. You can also try feeding them near each other, so they associate something fun with each other's presence.
Avoid leaving your dog and cat alone together until they're already relaxed and comfortable with each other. Over time, it's likely that they'll get along swimmingly. Some dogs and cats even like to play or sleep side by side.
Let me know how your dog-finding efforts turn out!
– Doctor Dog
What to Consider Before Adding a New Dog or Cat to the Family
Dogs and cats can become excellent companions for each other, but introducing them safely is an art. Check out this video for tips on a successful introduction period.
Have a Question for Doctor Dog?
Leave any questions for me, and look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets. Have questions about cats, bunnies, hamsters or any other critters? Shoot! I may be a dog myself, but I'm here to help all your animal companions, whether they have four legs or fins.
Important reminder: Doctor Dog is happy to provide general pet care guidance, but she cannot provide formal medical recommendations or diagnoses for your pet. Your pet's veterinarian should always be your primary resource for serious questions regarding your pet's health.