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How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Get Used To A Dog?

Have you ever heard of the saying, “fighting like cats and dogs?” and think there may be some truth behind the saying as you start to wonder how long it’s going to take for your new cat to get used to your dog? From a new kitten to a rescued stray, the same precautions should be taken when introducing your furry friends.

It takes a cat two to three weeks, on average, to get used to a dog. However, some feline or canine personalities could take months to get settled, while in some cases, the animals may never get along

Don’t fret! There are a lot of factors to consider that contribute to behavior and interactions between your cat and dog. Taking some simple precautions can make a huge difference.

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Getting Cats and Dogs Comfortable With Each Other

There is an array of canine and feline companions, all with different temperaments, personalities, and, quite frankly, levels of stubbornness. Sometimes, it can take a dog and cat to become acquainted within days, if not hours. For others, their personalities are just too different, and it takes them a long time to understand how to behave around the other species.

Please consider this; cats and dogs tend to be enemies because of their predatory instincts and communication issues. It’s much more complicated than a single answer because of all of these variables. It takes time to see what works for your furry companions and what doesn’t.

Here are some steps to get them acquainted.

Make Judgment Calls Off Personality – Not Breed

Personalities vary from dog to dog. There is an array of characters and temperaments that sometimes depend on the specific dog or cat and their tolerance for other animals.

If you notice that your dog is territorial or aggressive, it likely would not be a good household for a cat who tends to have more skittish tendencies. If you have a senior dog that displays dislike in sharing, then introducing that new energetic kitten may be off-putting.

Implement Training

Plan for success by assessing your dog’s curiosity and need for impulses. Does it bolt across the room when a piece of food is dropped, or flip the kill-switch whenever they hear a toy squeak? If any of these behaviors sound familiar, introducing a cat may be difficult if prone to pounce.

Instead, consider taking some time before introducing your feline friend. Even then, make sure to have your dog leashed for the first several meetings to ensure safety and prevent unintentional harm to the cat.

Create Space

Cats need their own space and often need their off-limits area from the dog. Creating this before having the cat meet the dog will give the cat or kitten confidence to navigate it’s way back to its territory if it feels scared or threatened or perhaps when he or she gets annoyed with their new sibling. Invest in a tall cat tree, or install some shelves that are high above where your cat can observe the dog from a safe distance.

Get Moving

Dogs require a lot of stimulation, and if daily exercise isn’t regular on your schedule, they will find their way to satisfy it by chasing their new friend. Consider taking the dog on a walk, or if you don’t have time for any of these activities, consider enrolling the dog in daycare or dog walking.

Embrace Curiosity

Before their first meeting, let them examine one another’s space. Let your pet’s nose understand their shared territory before any face-to-face interaction. These steps could help to curb curiosity and avoid any territorial issues that may arise.

Plan Their First Date

Like us, cats and dogs have only one shot at making an excellent first impression, and just like a typical first date over dinner, cats and dogs luckily love their food too!

Schedule their first meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed-door where they’re unable to see each other, but they will sense the smell of one another while they’re mowing down their food. They’ll associate that this smell with food is a good thing.

Try doing this every mealtime for a couple of weeks before introducing them to their stunning visuals. For safety, the more and more you expose the cat, continue keeping the dog leashed until you’re confident the dog is calm enough to take it off (and even then, take caution of sudden movements.)

Stop Them From Swiping Each Other’s Food

After the first successful initiation of the two pets after the feeding exercises, keep their food away from each other as a precaution to prevent some disastrous mealtimes!

Schedule regular times for your pets to eat and place the bowls at opposite sides of the house (even have the cat’s dish in a higher spot). Consider separating their toys too. Competition and sharing in any capacity can often lead to some unwanted bickering. 

What Dog Breeds Are Good With Cats? 

The American Kennel Club offers some insight on what breed of dogs get along well with cats. The list: 

  • Basset Hound: Loyal dogs but may have some difficulty training due to a stubborn streak. However, their mild-manner usually makes them more tolerant of sharing with other animals.
  • Beagle: Historically, beagles hunted in packs, so they are typically friendly with other animals and likely see cats as just another member of their package. 
  • Bulldog: These dogs can certainly intimidate a scaredy-cat, but deep down their kind temperament makes them beautiful companions to other animals.
  • Collie: These canines are known for their patients around animals and, for most, extend to tolerating other furry members of the family.
  • Labrador Retriever: These dogs have more love than they know what to do with, although much larger than the other breeds listed, they get along with just about everyone and everything they meet. 
  • Pug: These canines have plenty of personalities and adore the spotlight. When their owners are gone, cats serve as feline playmates to tie them over until their backs.  

Well, Should Cats And Dogs Live Together? 

The majority of cats and dogs can coexist together comfortably once they become acquainted. Especially when raised together, they generally will tolerate each other quickly and sometimes create lasting relationships where you see those cute photos of them sleeping or playing together.

However, if a dog (or cat) is already an established member in the household and you’re bringing another member into the family, certain precautions should be taken.

The bottom line is that cats and dogs can live harmoniously and can make better friends than with their species; however, like any relationship, it takes time and patience to understand each other’s habits, behaviors, and personality. 

Remain watchful and take precautions to ensure the introduction goes smoothly. If the two animals don’t end up seeing things eye-to-eye have a backup plan that sets up a household arrangement that can keep the two separated for a long time.

If you’re adopting a pet, do your research and ask it’s previous shelter or owners if it’s lived with animals and if they have a history of sharing their space with others. 

Will My Cats and Dog Ever Get Along?

If you’re struggling with your pets getting along, know that it is a process that is entirely dependent on your situation and the personalities behind each animal.

Have you integrated a new kitten or cat into your home with a canine? Please share your stories below of any difficulties you experienced, tips, or triumphs. We would love to hear your stories!