Living in a household with both cats and dogs can be a joyful experience for everyone involved, as long as it is done in a thoughtful and careful manner. Kris Hill from the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) explores how to ensure that cats and dogs can happily coexist, taking into consideration their individual personalities and needs.
Cats and dogs offer companionship to their human guardians, which can help alleviate loneliness and facilitate social interactions with other people. While dogs are highly social and were domesticated from wolves to facilitate group living, the sociability found in cats is a more recent evolutionary development. Therefore, it is essential to approach this interspecies relationship with understanding and patience.
Although cats are not social obligate, that does not mean they are asocial. It all depends on the individual cat’s personality and how they were raised. Many cats are happy to bond with dogs, and the key to creating a harmonious household is to understand each animal’s needs and personality.
When planning on adding a new furry family member to an existing household, it is essential to consider how this might impact everyone involved. For instance, introducing a kitten or puppy might cause unnecessary distress to an elderly cat. Animal shelters try to determine which cats and dogs are socialized to other animals, which helps match potential adopters with suitable animals.
Introducing a new cat or dog to the household should be done carefully, keeping in mind the stress levels of all parties involved. Training and socializing both animals can help make the process smoother, and awareness of each species’ needs is critical. Dogs may seek social contact more often, so it is essential to understand how to teach them to respect feline spaces and their need for play provided by other means.
Cats and dogs do not have to be best friends to live in harmony, and a lack of conflict is not necessarily a sign of friendship. Therefore, it is important to understand feline emotional states and pay attention to subtle changes in behavior or health issues that may be a sign of emotional distress. Chronic stress in cats can lead to avoidance or frustration, which may present as aggression.
The goal of reducing stress is not to force inter-feline or interspecies friendships, but to enable cats to feel secure and tolerant of each other. A reputable behaviorist may be able to help identify and resolve underlying issues, and vets are excellent resources to check for underlying physical causes of behavioral problems.
In conclusion, living in a culture with both cats and dogs can be an enriching and joyful experience, provided it is done right. Every individual must be understood and respected, and their unique personalities and needs must be taken into consideration. Proper planning, socialization, and awareness can help create a happy and harmonious household where cats and dogs can thrive together.
SCAS is a UK-based organization that advocates for the human-companion animal bond by funding research, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practices, and influencing policies that support this bond. Contact SCAS or follow them on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about their work.