The age-old battle between the animal kingdom’s greatest ‘enemies’ has been exaggerated in pop culture but has never actually been scientifically proven . Nonetheless, introducing a new puppy to your household if you already have a cat can be a sticky diplomatic situation and a stressful time for both pets and owners. In this blog, we’ll be debunking the dog and cat rivalry myth and sharing some tips on the best way to introduce a new puppy into your household.
Do cats and dogs hate each other?
While their differing behaviours may lead to some conflict, cats and dogs are actually pretty similar in many ways. Because cats and dogs are carnivores, in the ‘wild’ they would compete for prey, or may feed on each other if there were no other food sources around. Whilst they might be competing predators, dogs don’t actively hunt or chase cats or vice versa. Problems can arise however, when cats and dogs cohabit in the confined territory of your household.
What’s the major cause of conflict between cats and dogs?
The answer to this question lies in their ancestry: cats are evolved from the lonesome Arabian wildcat, whilst dogs evolved from the wolf, a highly social animal that generally travels in packs. Cats like to hang back, assess the situation from a distance and treat others with suspicion until they’re comfortable. On the other hand, dogs often interact in a way that is highly dynamic, and will bounce right up to someone new. Cats may interpret this behaviour as a threat, and run away, prompting the dog to chase them, thinking it’s a game. In this situation, neither the cat nor the dog understands the other’s motivation behind the behaviour, which can cause problems.
What can I do to ease the transition of a new puppy?
It may not seem fair, but the new puppy essentially has to learn the cat’s language. In the initial introductory period, it’s a good idea to place the puppy and cat in different areas of the house so that they are close enough to smell and hear one another without direct interaction. Make sure you spend time with each pet individually, as this can help both relax and avoid jealousy. Once they’re familiar with the scent and sound of one another and you’ve given them lots of reassuring cuddles, it’s time to set up a face to face meeting. In the beginning, hold the puppy on a leash so that the cat has time to adjust and can retreat if it needs to. Over time, both animals will learn to share the space and your affection, and may even become friends.
Luckily, domesticated animals such as cats and dogs are highly adaptable to new situations and environments. As long as you supervise the interactions between your new puppy and cat in the beginning to ensure there’s no animosity between the two, they should be able to peacefully cohabit. If you find yourself struggling to introduce your puppy and cat, Vets On Balwyn is here to help with advice and even behavioural training if necessary. Get in touch with us today by calling (03) 9857 8100.