Can cats and dogs be friends? – Part 1

Introducing dogs to cats and living harmoniously

Supposedly these two glorious household favourites share a deep loathing for one another, and have since the beginning of time. The age old story of cat vs dog. But in the Republic, although we know cats are by far the superior species, we think this battle deep down is all just a bit of bravado and want to share our tips and tricks to living in harmony with both feline and canine companions at home.

Luckily for us, we have first hand experience in building these kinds of bonds between the two cuddly creatures. Our very own Queen Rue gained a younger dog-shaped sibling, Claude, just over a year ago now. Although at first she was not at all impressed, by taking things slowly and respecting each of their boundaries around the home,

 

the fluffy pair have got to a great stage just within the first year of living together, and we love seeing their relationship blossom. 


First steps

Bringing a new pet into the home is always a huge change for everyone involved, but introducing a new animal to other four legged friends already established in the home really does require a lot of work, love and patience from all parties. Slow and steady definitely wins the race in this case, so when your newest recruit arrives home, starting off with them in just one room to get used to their new digs is a really great way to settle them in. Just a short term solution, but keeping your fluffbags separated at first will allow both of them to adjust to their new environment.

Scent is super important for communication in the animal kingdom. A great way to soften the blow of new arrivals is to try introducing your pets via smell before they even meet in person. A scented blanket from your home to take to your new companion before moving day, and vice versa, will let your fur children sniff and get to know each other before they’re even in the same space. They can investigate the new smells at their own pace and will have less of a shock when the new resident arrives, especially when they realise it’s puppy shaped.

 

Building a bond

Continuing to swap scents once your new arrival has settled in is a brilliant way to keep each animal calm before it’s time for a full blown, face to face paw to paw intro. Swapping bedding and toys between them in the first week will eliminate the initial upset your cat may go through, understanding they are now no longer an only child and will have to share your affections. It’s a massive deal for them, so be calm and patient, even if you’re getting the cold cat shoulder. 

Only you will know when the time is right to start introductions, and then of course your cat has to choose if they’re ready too. A great way to start is with a crate. If your puppy is comfortable being in a crate, then letting your cat enter the room whilst your doggo is safely secured can let your kitty get curious and explore without feeling too threatened. We definitely wouldn’t recommend having your cat as the one in the crate though, trying to get those flexy felines to the vets in a carrier is hard enough, so leave the crating for the puppers only. 

It’s important to never trap or force your cat into the same room as the new intruder, they should always have a clear escape route so they don’t feel threatened. We advise keeping doors open and providing high up shelves or surfaces so they can gain some distance from the doggo whilst they’re still getting used to their sibling. Rewarding calm behaviour around one another will reinforce to each of them that keeping their cool is key, and hopefully lead to more and more successful interactions between the two beauties. 

 

Dog free zones

A big challenge we faced when we first brought home little Claude was dinner time. Trying to convince an eight week old puppy that the cat’s food certainly wasn’t for him was a near impossible task so we had to get creative. It was also creating stress for Rue, on top of the sheer fact that a dog was even in her home, her favourite Republic recipes were in jeopardy and that needed to be fixed. We’ve spoken before about creating calm feeding spaces for your cats, especially the fussy ones, so when there’s an apparent ‘threat’ from another little beasty on the hunt for food, this zen dining space becomes even more necessary. 

We took to a little DIY to solve our problems, thank you Pinterest. Excessive maybe, we got to creating a floating cat restaurant {make one yourself here} fit for the 

Queen, where there was no way for her bounding brother to reach her and disturb meal times. Now we totally know attaching a floating cat shelf to your window sill won’t be the solution for everyone, but thinking outside the box and creating an area where your cat can eat alone without puppies pinching the scraps is essential for keeping the peace. It’s important to add that cat food most likely isn’t the best diet for a small pupper, so even more of a reason to keep them apart whilst they munch and minimise 

the chance of any upset tummies.

 

It’s the same for sleepy time. Although some cats may surprise you and be a little more confident around the new kid, most are likely to be wary. Let’s be honest, cats can be put off for a week if you move your lamp to a different corner, so these things will take time. Ensuring their selected sleeping spot remains the same, despite the dog, is essential to keep the peace. A cat’s favourite activity will forever be snoozing, it’s practically their full time job (when they’re not running Republic HQ of course), so their comfort is key and must not be compromised. Keep their favourite places to catch 40 winks off limits from the pup, and during the night we recommend keeping the new biter safely secured in their own room and leave the cats to roam free. They are nocturnal night owls after all, so letting them have free reign over their space to zoom and pounce all night long whilst their doggy friend gets plenty of kip, will teach good habits to the pup and keep their bad cat habits thriving through the eve.

Claude & Rue, 3 months into living together

Check out the next steps in Part 2 here.

The Republic x

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By Lois Roberts

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