A Guide To Mixing Cats And Dogs In Your Living Space

cat and dog sniffing each other

It’s sometimes assumed that cats and dogs will never get on. Dogs are typically more boisterous than cats and, in some cases, it is simply not safe to have the two sharing the same area. However, there are just as many examples of circumstances where cats and dogs can share a living space in peaceful harmony. When brought together correctly, cats and dogs can actually be a fantastic influence on each other and form inseparable close bonds.

If you are considering adding another pet to your family you should always take the time to understand what will be required to make this living situation work and introduce your cat to your dog carefully. Similarly, if you are already struggling with the behaviour of cats and dogs in your existing space, you should speak to a behaviourist and keep your pets separate to ensure safety. Try not to panic if you are struggling or concerned – there are lots of brilliant experts you can turn to and we have also put together our top tips for mixing cats and dogs in this guide. 

Can Cats And Dogs Live Together?

Before you introduce a cat to a dog, it’s important to understand exactly how this relationship might work and whether it is viable in your circumstances. As we have touched upon, it is perfectly possible for cats and dogs to live together but there are a number of factors that might affect the success of this relationship. Cats are typically more vulnerable than dogs due to their size and therefore it is essential that you do not underestimate how daunting the presence of a larger animal may be. 

If you already have a large and/or excitable dog, bringing a cat into the equation requires careful consideration and in some instances is not advised. However, if your dog is generally calm and responsive to your commands, it is likely that it will be able to live happily with a cat provided the meeting is managed carefully and gradually. 

Tips For Harmonious Space Sharing

Much like when you bring a dog into the home for the first time, patience is key when mixing cats and dogs. Having realistic expectations and an understanding that the process may not go entirely smoothly will help you to stay calm and adapt your approach to keep both pets safe. We would always recommend listening to the advice of experts and reading a range of resources that explain in detail how to manage space sharing including this comprehensive guide from the RSPCA. As you do your research, you can expect to come across some of the following tips and suggestions:

Plan The Introduction Carefully

Mixing cats and dogs should always be a gradual process – you should never bring your pets together in a shared space without prior planning. Timing is key, so pick a day or time when the rest of the household is quiet and calm rather than a moment when everybody is at home and rushing around. Your pets will pick up on the environment and, if it is a panicked one, they will likely behave in the same way!

You should also make an effort to get your pets used to each other’s scents ahead of time. The Dogs Trust recommend that you try to get your existing pet familiar with an item like a blanket or toy that smells of your current pet. Encourage them to gradually spend time around this item and, providing they show no signs of nervousness or aggression to the scent, you can continue to swap scents before the formal and physical introduction. 

Allow Each Pet Their Own Space

It’s critical that cats and dogs have their own space even if they’re sharing the same wider living area. This means that should any difficulties arise, they are able to retreat to somewhere safe and can still access everything they need like food and water. 

Even if your cat and dog become comfortable with each other very quickly, it’s still important that you allow them to have their own space to aid independence. Once the transition is managed, you could design a bespoke piece of pet furniture with us that allows for both your cat and dog to have their own bedroom and resources but still be within the bounds of each other’s company.

Utilise Physical Barriers

It’s also advisable to keep the spaces of each pet separated with physical barriers, particularly if you cannot have eyes on your cat and dog at all times. One of the most common occurrences when first mixing pets is that your dog will enjoy chasing after your cat. Physical barriers prevent this chase from happening and therefore prevent any poor habits from forming in your dog’s behaviour.

There are many different ways that you can utilise physical barriers to keep dogs and cats separate, including lockable baby gates and doors. If you opt to design a custom shared space with The Pet Carpenter, you can also make the most of our vast range of functional features by opting for a full panel but removable divide between the two spaces. This way, your pets can spend quality time together when comfortable with each other but you can also give them their all-important alone time when it’s appropriate. 

shared dog and cat living space

Stay Present At First

While it’s unlikely that you will be able to keep a watchful eye on both pets at all times of day, you should be as present as possible when first mixing cats and dogs. Do not allow your cat and dog to spend time completely alone together until you are certain that they get along. Trust is key and it pays to take the time to build it. Rushing to leave your pets unattended is much more likely to result in chasing and possible conflict which can reverse any good progress you have made.

Successfully mixing cats and dogs can transform your living space for the better so we hope that this guide has made you feel more informed about doing so. If you feel that you would benefit from additional resources or strategies to manage the transition, please speak to a qualified professional or get in touch with us and we will do our best to point you in the direction of our expert training partner. You can also start designing a bespoke pet bedroom for both of your pets right away with our handy online tool! Simply fill out the form and we’ll be in touch to help you create your harmonious mixed living space.

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