WYou can’t make a cat and dog get along, and trying to force a relationship can result in a dangerous situation for everyone involved, as any veterinarian or animal trainer will tell you. When merging households and pets, especially those with dogs or cats that have never lived with the other species, introduce the animals slowly for the best — and safest — outcome.
Start by bringing the new animal into the house, or both animals into a new house, but keeping them separate. Confine the dog to a crate or a room, away from the cat, or vice versa. Alternate which animal has freedom so that the dog and cat can each have time to roam the house and get used to the smell of the other.
You May Need Outside Help
If, after a week or so, the dog or cat cannot remain calm with the other animal in the house, bring in a pet-training professional to assess the situation and begin working with the animals toward a peaceful coexistence. Follow the trainer’s advice to the letter, as he or she will see warning signs you may not and can help you prevent the situation from turning uglier.
If both the dog and cat seem calm with each other in the house after a week or so, put the dog on a leash and introduce the animals to each other. If the calmness continues, let the animals roam freely while supervised, but confine one or the other when unsupervised. Only after a month or so of peaceful coexistence should you allow the animals to be unsupervised full time.
If It Doesn’t Work Out…
Keep in mind that not all dogs and cats will make good housemates, even with help from a professional animal trainer. If one of the animals remains overly focused on the other and shows signs of aggression, the situation simply may not work out. You must be prepared to make a difficult decision regarding your pets, one you may have never thought you would have to make. Keep the happiness and safety of the animals at the front of your mind, no matter your emotions. Also consider any children in the family. If the dog and cat were to get into a physical altercation, a child trying to intervene could be seriously harmed by either of the animals. If you must give up one of the animals, check the listings for you local animal shelter.
Before making any final decisions regarding your pets, though, consult your veterinarian for advice in addition to that of the trainer. If you need help finding either, DexKnows has listings for pet training professionals as well as for veterinarians.