Dogs and Cats Living Together: Best Advice for a Harmonious Household

Dogs and Cats Living Together:  Best Advice for a Harmonious Household

Are your dogs and cats living together under the same roof, soul mates, best friends, or mortal enemies? 

By Janice Jones M.A.   |Last Updated 06-29-2023

Modern dogs and cats have lived side by side for manygenerations, some forming strong bonds that transcend the obviousspeciesdifference. 

Others live in the same household, cognizant of each others presence but otherwise prefer to lead distinct lifestyles wherethere is seemingly an unspoken rule: 

No cats allowed in the dogquarters, and

No dogs allowed where the cats reside. 

Popular culture would have us believing in this great schism, but doesthis divide really exist inactual households?

Everyone who has ever lived with both cats and dogs willhave a tale to tell about the incrediblebonds between their cat and dog. 

Theynot only tolerate each other, but they alsothrive in each others company,follow each other around, sleep in each others beds, play together, even eat eachothers’  food. 

Others will revealthat their cat and dog will have nothing to do with each other. Some dogs and cats are mortal enemies. 

One occupies the space in the kitchen and theother dominates in the bedroom; neither will venture across the invisibleboundaries that separate their worlds.

Abby and Sam are settling in for a nap together–A Great Example of Dogs and Cats Living Together, Happily

So, what really does go on inhouseholds where there are both dogs and cats living together? It is true that many people have a preference for one type of pet overthe other.  You know the routine: 

I’m a cat person, I’ll never have a dog.  

I’m a dog person, and am not fond of your feline friend.

What happenswhen a cat person meets a dog person? Are they doomed to incompatibility? Maybe not.

Dogs and cats can live harmoniously with each other, but itdoes take some foresight and planning, especially if you want your cat to loveyour dog and not just agree to co-exist.

A lot depends on the type ofdog breed you choose and whether you will be introducing a young puppyto a mature cat or a kitten to an older dog. Best case scenario would be to addcats and dogs together at a very youngage. 

Some breeds of dogs are just more tolerant of cats.  There is also a major debate as to whether akitten would be best introduced to a mature dog or a puppy brought into thehousehold with an adult cat.

Isis and Tucker are Checking Each Other Out

Some breeds, such as the greyhound has a strong chaseinstinct and don’t do well with cats. 

Other breeds have strong prey instincts and will chase them, nip at themand otherwise harass them.  Many of theterrier breeds are like this. Then, there are some breeds that hate cats (andother small pets)

Dog Breeds that Hate Cats

  • Afghan Hound
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Basenji
  • Beagle
  • Border Terrier
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Weimaraner
  • Shiba Inu

Many cat experts willtell you that an adult cat who has never had any experience living with or neardogs will have a harder time making the transition to a lifestyle with a busy, rambunctiouspuppy. 

If, however, the adult cat hasbeen exposed to dogs, there is a reason tosuspect that the pair will tolerate each otherif not become friends. Smaller, calmer dogs seem to do best with their catco-inhabitants. 

Dogs and Cats Living Together:  Does Size Matter?

Large breed puppies with very high energy levels may just overpowera cat. 

There are, however, many successstories of families with a larger or giant breed dog loving and protecting thefamily’s cat.  In these situations, thedog was the first family member followed by an adult cat or kitten

If you have your heart set ona family with one dog and one cat, consider adopting them when they areyoung say under one-year-old.  

Even though it might seem like a lot ofwork, experts and pet owners agree that takingin both a cat and a dog within a short time of each other produces the bestchance for successful bonding between the species. 

Dog Breeds Developed to Be Companions

Each dog breed history normally starts out with something such as this:  This breed was developed to hunt fox, guard flocks of sheep or trained as a war dog.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these noble jobs, but some breeds were bred solely to be companions to their humans.  

These companion breeds keep nobility company, warmed the laps of queens living in drafty castles or helped turn prayer wheels in ancient monasteries.  

A breed that has always been considered a companion may make the best choice if you are considering adding a dog to your cat household.


Maltese, Shih Tzu, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, Lhasa Apso, or Tibetan Spaniel.

Dogs and Cats Living Together? It Does Happen!

The next option would be to get two pets, a cat, and a dog, who have had a history of beingaround other pets.  Here, you would notneed to get a puppy and a kitten. 

This brings a sigh of relief to many who findthe prospects of training both a kitten and a puppy at the same time to bedaunting experience—one which the normally sane individual would prefer to shyaway from. 

Many people are likely to adopt a kitten or young cat from arescue or shelter.  The benefits of this situation are great. 

You not only save a life, but you might alsogain some information about the former life of the kitten or cat you are planningto adopt.  Find a cat that has alreadybeen exposed to living with a dog. 

The same holds for selectinga puppy or dog.  If you can find a rescue who can get you a dog that has already beenintroduced to cats, you will be well ahead of the game. 

A dog breeder may also be able to introduceyour new puppy to her cats, giving you a head start on the bonding process.

All of this is discussion isassuming that you plan to acquire a dog and a cat at about the same time.  This could be an ideal situation, but for themajority of people, this best case scenario may not be what happens inreality. 

When Dog Meets Cat:  Successful Introductions

Never assume that the cat of your dreams will automaticallylove the dog in your life.  If Cats already rule your household, don’t expectthem to roll out the welcome mat to a new canine addition whether it is a youngpuppy, adolescent or adult dog. 

Short and sweet introductions are usually the best and the ones that are entirely supervised will lead tothe best outcomes. Never leave a puppy and cat alone together or kitten and an olderdog and hope for the best. 

New additionsto the family must be introduced slowly and cautiously with ever present humansupervision close at hand.  What exactlydoes it mean to supervise?

Dogs and Cats Living Together:  Human Intervention Required!

Humans have an advantage overpets.  We are usually the parent, thealpha male or female, or the leader of the pack. 

Animals have an instinctive understandingthat they may not be entirely in charge if a human is present.  If they don’t, it is our responsibility tolet them know who the parent is in the relationship.

The person who supervises thefirst few encounters with dogs and cats/puppies and kittens or any othercombination should understand that they must intervene if a fight breaks out orif one of the pair feels threatened in any way. 

Quick reflexes might be needed to protect a puppy or kitten from thejaws of the other if it looks like both are not going to get along, orbond. 

The last thing you want is for apuppy to be clawed or a kitten to be injured to the point where veterinarysurgery might be necessary.

Quick Tricks for Dogs and Cats Living Together

  • Introduce the pair after they’veeaten and are both relaxed
  • Keep the dog on a leash andthe cat on the other side of the room
  • Allow them to smell eachother first.  Scent is important to bothdogs and cats
  • Provide treats for both – Youwant them to associate treats with being with each other
  • Watch both animals for warningsigns that something is not right.  Thismeans watching their body language. 
  • Leave them in a small room butstay near enough to intervene if necessary
  • Don’t allow the cat to runaway—the dog will immediately look at this as a game of chase.
  • Don’t punish either animalfor aggression.  You don’t want your dogthinking he will get into trouble if the cat is around. He might decide thathis job is to fend off the cat at all costs.
  • Provide a tall scratchingpost/tower with multiple landings for the cat to rest and observe the dog froma high perch.

If the first meeting doesn’tgo well, don’t give up.  Stock up on moretreats and try again tomorrow.  It maketake many short meetings until the two are comfortably together in each otherspresence.

How will I keep them apartwhen I’m away from home?

Dogs are much easier toconfine than cats.  Crating the dog maybe the solution if someone will be available to let him out at noontime for awalk. 

If crating is not an option, youmay need to separate them in different rooms separated by a door.  Infant gates work great for keeping a puppyconfined, but cats will view a gate as a minor inconvenience if she wants toget to the puppy.

Once you feel comfortablethat they will get along, these extra precautions may not be necessary.

Last Words about Dogs and Cats Living Together

To conclude, if you want toshare your home with a dog and cat, relax it can be done.  Will they become soul mates to eachother?  No guarantees there, but cats anddogs can be taught to form bonds and become friends. 

It takes a little patience and time on yourpart and enough knowledge of dog breeds to chose a dog that naturally will getalong with a cat. 

Many households have dogs and cats living together, peacefully and happily.  Will your home be one of them?

Adoption Resources

Your local animal shelter, humane society or rescue organizations are always an idea place to look adoptable pets.  If you’d like to do a search online, may we suggest:

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