Cats and dogs have historically and culturally been adversaries, but in many cases, they can help each other and coexist harmoniously.  With our busy schedules keeping us out of the house more often then we might prefer, it can leave man’s best friend, longing for one of their own. Cats can fill this void left by absent humans, but not every dog and cat will successfully comingle.

Cats can be a great companion for a dog, but there are factors to think about before committing. Getting a cat to keep a dog company is entirely dependent on the temperament of the dog and cat, breeds and age of both animals, rationale for needing a companion, proper training, and adequate exposure.

You’ll want to know more about the factors to consider if you’re seriously thinking about introducing a cat into your dog’s life. Ignoring some of these factors could leave you at risk of unhealthy behavior and leave both animals unhappy. Knowing these factors will save you a potential headache in the future and give you the best method of companionship for your furry friend.

Should I Get a Cat to Keep My Dog Company?

The most important thing to consider when thinking about getting a cat companion for your dog is the reason why you believe it is necessary.

Anxiety, a factor that leads many dogs into behaviors such as chewing, barking, urination/defecation, or escaping, are common signs that show that your dog may require some sort of companionship. The best response for this, however, is not necessarily getting a new pet.

Other Ways to Comfort an Anxious Dog


Getting a new pet is a great option, but if you aren’t ready for that pet or not able to care for both properly, this should never be a choice. Alternatives to this approach include the following:

  • Leaving the TV on while you’re gone
  • Leaving music playing while you’re gone
  • Providing plenty of toys to play with
  • Crating your dog
  • Thundershirt – Anti-anxiety shirt worn to provide gentle pressure to the dog
  • Small periods of separation building to more extended periods

What to Consider If You Want a Cat to Keep Your Dog Company

The above options all provide an alternative to getting a new pet friend for your dog; however, if you are actually in the market for another pet, there are other factors to consider.

Breeds

Breeds provide an accurate generalization of the type of temperament that your dog will likely possess. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), toy breeds and sporting breeds are generally the safest options to pair with a cat because of their friendly nature.

At the same time, terriers and hounds may irritate the cat because of their chasing background. The AKC provides a list of their top options for dogs that will cohabitate best with cats.

  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Bulldog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Collie
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Pug

Since there are always exceptions to the rule, it is up to the individual pet owner to determine if the temperament of their breed will be one that can coexist with a feline friend.

Age

Everyone has heard the phrase you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Though there will be those who can overcome this obstacle, it is generally sound advice.

Introducing your dog to a cat at an earlier age can dramatically help the likelihood that the relationship between them will be healthy. Older animals are usually set it their ways and may look at a change in their routine as a threat causing them to act out.

Exposure

Exposing your dog to a cat before you make the final decision to add the cat to your family can prove valuable.

Find a friend that has a cat and introduce your dog. If you see that your dog can be around a cat and play or coexist with it rather than attack or annoy it, then you have a good idea about how it will be once you get one yourself. If you see the opposite, then you know that maybe a cat is not in the cards for you.

Once the cat is in your home with your dog, you may want to consider these tips from BarkingRoyalty.com for a successful introduction.  

  • Providing them their own space
  • Keeping pets apart for the first few days
  • Feeding them separately
  • Introduce them slowly

Once they show that they are comfortable together, you may lift restrictions.  

Training

Perhaps you have pulled the trigger, and the animals are keeping each other company in harmony. Animals can still be unpredictable.

It is crucial that if an altercation does occur between animals, for whatever the reason may be, that you can immediately extinguish the tension through commands. Teaching basic commands to your animal, such as “no,” “stay,” or “leave it” can stop an attack in its tracks if tensions rise.

Is A Cat A Good Companion For A Dog?

Cats and dogs may not be the first combination that you think of when considering a companion; however, if you use the above tips, you can forge a very successful relationship. The Guardian surveyed the relationship between cats and dogs.

They state, “748 homeowners from the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and Europe found that more than 80% felt their pets were comfortable with one another, with only 3% declaring that their cats and dogs could not stand one another.”

Though this Guardian study found that these animals have coexisted successfully, they did add a caveat. “…cats were three times more likely to threaten their canine housemates than vice versa, and 10 times more likely to injure them in a fight.”

This stat shouldn’t be a deterrent if you’re ultimate goal is to become a cat and dog household. The stats and personal accounts support this being a relationship that absolutely can work.

Think About A Canine Companion

If you aren’t predisposed to needing a cat over another animal, then you can always consider getting a dog companion for your dog. A dog-dog relationship may come a little more naturally as they will be able to play with someone more similar to them.

You should take the same steps to the introduction mentioned earlier in the article for a cat and a dog. Dogs are territorial and may not take kindly to their perception of a new dog taking affection or space from them. 

Can I Get a Dog If I Have A Cat?

Many of the same factors remain valid if you are considering getting a dog when you already have a cat. You first need to examine the reason that you are considering bringing a dog into your household and figure out if your cat will be able to handle the changes that are to come. Consider the temperament of your cat. Is your cat generally relaxed, or is it combative? If it is a more mellow cat, it has the potential to handle this change in the environment.

Start Young

As with dogs, it is easier to add a dog into your life when your cat is a kitten. Cats are going to be more adept at adapting to this new presence in their life when they are younger and not stuck in a routine. While they’re kittens, you may also consider declawing them to avoid any potential injuries if your dog and cat do get into a disagreement.

Choose Your Breed Carefully

Certain breeds of cats also are more likely to get along with dogs. Once again, only the owner can know the actual temperament of their pet, but Vetstreet.com provides a good jumping-off point. Their list is as follows:

  • American Shorthair
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Turkish Angora
  • Siberian
  • Birman
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Tonkinese
  • Ragdoll
  • Turkish Van
  • Maine Coon

Take careful consideration when adding a new pet into your household. Following these steps, you can create a happy, loving, friendly environment for your furry friend.