Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 steps to a harmonious household with both dogs and cats

pug head tip

Liam the pug and Lucy the blind cat really are the best of friends. They enjoy one another, and they often play together and nap together. They've been this way since Lucy was a very small kitten, and I'd like to think that they prove that dogs and cats (even if one of the pair is disabled) can live quite happily, side by side.

But that doesn't mean that these kinds of relationships always come about naturally. In fact, there's a great deal of owner work that stands behind every successful dog/cat household. Here are my top 3 tips for people who want to achieve their own multi-pet bliss.

blind cat and pug

1. Let the cat set the pace. 

While there are quite a few brave cats out there, most kitties are cautious creatures. They like to really investigate a situation before they plunge in, and if you press them or corner them, they tend to respond with claws and teeth.

That's why I'm a big believer in letting the cats define the boundaries of the relationship. If the cats want to approach the dogs, that's fine. But if the dogs want to approach the cats during the introduction phase, or if the dogs pester cats during private moments (nap time, bathroom time, play time), I break things up. The cats should determine when things happen.

2. Don't leave the pair unsupervised. 

 Liam has lived with cats all of his life, and he has excellent cat manners. Even so, he's not allowed to have free and open kitty time when there are no humans around. Period.

Pets have squabbles, plain and simple. And tiny irritations can turn into huge issues unless there are humans on hand to break up the action. So when I can't be present to keep an eye on things, Liam doesn't have cat access.

pug and blind cat

3. Reward good interactions.

Liam would probably spend time with Lucy no matter what. But, I try to reinforce his time by using words of praise whenever he's playing nicely or resting nicely with Lucy. The kitty likes the happy words, too, even if they're not directed at her.

Most pets, including cats, want to do things that make their humans happy. By praising the pets for playing nicely or sleeping peacefully, I'm letting them know that this is a behavior I'd like to see repeated. That praise could make them more likely to behave that way in the future.

Any other dog/cat people out there? Did I miss any tips? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know.

No comments: