The world of pet ownership can feel divided along very specific lines – dog people and cat people. Maybe you don’t need to choose sides. With a little patience and training, you could enjoy the best of both worlds. Cat and dog not just living together, but cat playing with dog.
Read below to learn how to make this dream a reality. You’ll need to know some important information about cat behavior and companionship to plant the seeds of a happy relationship.
Cat Play: A Style All Its Own
Playtime is an expression of your cat’s physical and mental needs. Games and play are closely related to natural instincts that your cat feels. You can see this when they chase or pounce a toy. Cats particularly like toys or objects that resemble prey, such as mice.1
The Role Of Prey Drive And Natural Instincts
Cats are born with a “prey drive” impulse to chase objects. Prey drive is a natural urge that often comes out during playtime with toys. It is not necessarily aggressive, but it is an expression of your cat’s innate desire to chase things.2
It’s both healthy and important for cats to exercise this impulse. If they don’t, pent up energy may manifest itself in unhealthy behaviors, such as attacking people’s hands and feet.3
Understanding these tendencies will help you to integrate your cat’s fun time with other pets.
Games That Cats Love
Playtime is different for every animal, but these are a few games that lots of cats love:
- Solving puzzles
- Chasing toys on a string and stick
- Playing fetch
- Hide and seek4
Playing Or Fighting?
As you get to know your cat’s play style, you can start to distinguish between “play mode” and “fight mode”. These signs will help you recognize warning signs when you put them in a room with a dog.
Signs That A Cat Is Playing
Watch your cat’s body language closely as you learn about how they play and behave with others. These are all good signs that your cat is having fun and is not scared:
- Claws are sheathed
- Ears are up in a normal position, not back
- There is no growling or hissing
- Biting is minimal and doesn’t cause any pain5
Why Is Playtime Important For Your Kitty?
Don’t let all those naps fool you – cats have lots of energy. And, that energy needs an outlet, like play. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your cat stays healthy and happy. Playtime helps cats develop their coordination, learn problem solving, and practice hunting skills.6
All that jumping and chasing is also healthy exercise for your kitty. Playing helps keep your cat’s weight at a healthy level and helps them burn energy.7
Playtime, just like with humans, is a way to socialize and learn good behavior with other cats, people, and animals. These social skills are of particular importance as you integrate your cat’s play time with another animal.8
Dog And Cat Playing Together: More Than Harmony
Cats and dogs that live with other pets may live longer than pets that live alone. They get more chances to play and feel less lonely than animals that live alone. This is great for their mental and physical health.9
Tips To Encourage Friendly Play Time With Cat And Dog
For all their differences, cats and dogs can still find common ground when it comes to play. But, it requires guidance and supervision from the pet parents. Check out a few of these training tips to encourage buddy time between your two fuzzballs.
Pet Introductions: Courteous And Essential
If they didn’t grow up together, then your cat and dog need an introduction. A new pet introduction requires a certain amount of strategy. You can’t simply throw them into the living room together and walk away. New pets are delicate with their introductions. They need very gradual exposure to one another.10
Give the animals an opportunity to get acquainted in a space where they both feel comfortable. A comfortable and gradual introduction is crucial. If dogs and cats get off on the wrong paw, then they may establish negative associations early on. This sort of bad PR at the beginning can be hard to reverse.11
Here are the basic guidelines to follow when introducing a cat and dog. Speak to a vet or professional trainer for more specific guidance.
- Scent – Before they even meet, the animals should get familiar with each other’s smells. Give each pet a blanket to sleep on. Then swap the blankets, so they can learn the new smell.
- Intro Through Glass – Use a glass door or a window for the first face-to-face intro. This will help prevent any chases.
- Barriers – Once your pets have met through glass, you can do an introduction with a barrier, like a baby gate. Now they can smell and see one another. But, the barrier should help keep them both safe.
- Face-To-Face – After those initial steps, your pets will be ready to meet in person.12
Introducing A New Cat To A Dog
Give your new cat its own space in the house that’s separated from your dog. They should probably spend a few days in this area, so your pooch has time to familiarize itself with the new smell. This also allows your cat to hear and smell the dog to help prevent any surprises.13
Go slow with introductions, and make sure your cat feels comfortable. It may be a good idea to hold on to your cat the first time it meets the dog so that it feels safe.
Hopefully, your cat will become comfortable and curious enough to approach the dog on its own.
A Note On Kittens
Kittens need special consideration when meeting a new dog. Many kittens will not have a developed fear of dogs yet. This can be both good and bad. They are less likely to scratch your dog, but this also puts them in more danger. Take extra care when exposing a small, new kitten to a big, eager dog.14
Introducing A New Dog To A Cat
Cats can be very protective of their territory and owners. You want to respect this instinct when you bring a new floppy-eared dog home. Don’t let the dog run and slobber all over areas that your cat frequents.15
Maybe your feline friend has a favorite spot on the couch for sunning, or a spot where they usually play. Try to keep your new dog out of these areas, so that your cat doesn’t feel encroached upon.
Give your cat a space to call their own. This may help keep those anxiety levels down, and it might make for a friendlier meet-and-greet when the time comes. This is especially true for an adult cat that is set in its ways. They need to have a space away from their new roommate.16
Training: Crucial For Good Behavior And Happy Playtime
Much like introductions, training is a two-way street for cats and dogs. If your dog gives in to its chase instincts, even in a friendly way, it can scare your cat.
You need to play the intermediary between dogs and cats. Fortunately, there are some helpful tricks to facilitate a peaceful playtime. With some practice, you’ll soon be a qualified ambassador to the nations of dog and cat alike.
Dog’s Urge To Chase
Dogs have an urge to chase. This is often triggered by the sight of another dog or a small, furry critter (like a cat). This is a totally natural behavior, but it can quickly disrupt the harmony of a budding cat and dog relationship.17 It’s up to you to keep this behavior under control for introductions. So, always…
Use A Leash And Treats
Keep your dog on a leash for initial introductions. This gives you control over the situation and prevents the dog from chasing the cat. Ideally, you will have one hand free to offer your dog treats for good behavior. You want to reward your dog when they follow sit commands and resist the urge to chase the cat. When they stop tugging towards the cat, you can begin to work off the leash.18
Have Supervised Play Periods
Once your dog can resist the urge to chase the cat, you can start to have loose play sessions. However, because the dog and cat are still getting acquainted, keep the leash on your dog so that you can step in and quickly grab it if anyone misbehaves.19
Provide Adequate Separation
Having a cat and dog that play together can be a really rewarding experience for a pet owner. But, like any house, tempers between animals can still flare.
That means you have a responsibility to your cat and dog – even when you are away from the house. Take these precautions to help keep domestic life civil.
Angst Over Food
A friendly dog can quickly become protective of their space if they catch the cat in their food bowl. Help your pets stay friendly by establishing clear boundaries. Keep dog’s food in a different room than cat’s food. Give them separate areas to sleep and play, too. These clearly defined spaces can help promote harmony, which is crucial for a playful relationship.20
Litter Box Privacy
A cat’s litter box is a sacred space. Privacy is crucial. They don’t like to be bothered, not even by a friend. It can cause a cat to become stressed and anxious. Give them a designated private space where they can take care of their business far away from your pooch.21
Keep Pets Separated When You Are Away
Maintain clear boundaries for your cat and dog if you leave them alone at the house. Your cat should probably have its own room or space away from the dog. This is especially true at the beginning, but it’s a good rule to follow forever. This precaution should help keep everyone safe just in case anyone plays too rough or loses their cool while you’re gone.22
Trust Your Instincts
If you have a cat that always hisses at dogs, or a dog that never passes up on a chance to chase a cat, then you need to do an honest assessment of the situation. Not all cats can be trained to get along with dogs and vice versa.23
These tips and training techniques are not designed to force a cat to like dogs. They are only suggestions to help facilitate a new relationship.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic love potion to make cats and dogs get along. So, if you have any concerns about your pet’s relationship with other animals, speak to a vet or professional dog trainer before adding any new animals to the house.
Cats And Other Pets
Other common household pets, like birds, are not recommended playmates for cats or dogs. Use caution when exposing your cat or dog to any animal in your house. You can put all pets at risk with unnecessary exposure.
The Beginning Of A Beautiful Relationship
Cats and dogs fight. There are dog people and cat people. At least, that seems to be what people believe. But, that’s not always true.
Dogs and cats can live together. “Man’s best friend” can also be “cat’s best friend.” You don’t need to choose sides in the cat and dog debate. You can love them both equally and have them both in your house. However, this kind of a relationship may require work.
You’ll need to play the peacekeeper in order for a cat and dog to become friends. It requires a gradual introduction between the animals. Then, you will need to supervise all their exposure to prevent misbehaving.
It takes patience and diligence. But, with time, you’ll see an unlikely friendship blossom before your eyes. When you see that cat and dog playing together all on their own for the first time, it will be worth all the effort in the world.
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