|Fighting like cats and dog a myth says Animal Aid|
Leading animal welfare organisation, Animal Aid, is dismissing the fable that dogs and cats cannot co-habitate under the one roof, but rather, can live in a harmonious and positive environment, as long as pet owners follow a recommended strategy.
Cats and dogs have a history of being portrayed as natural enemies but this is now more of a distant memory, with more and more Australians opting to choose both a dog and a cat as their domestic pet companions.
Animal Aid says it is important to take your time when introducing new pets to existing pets into the household, especially when it comes to adult dogs and cats.
Whilst it is often easier to have young dogs and cats grow up together, it does not mean that older animals can't learn to live together.
The key to a good start in the relationship stakes is planning and research. If you are looking to add a dog to a family with cats make sure the dog has been assessed for his reaction to these furry felines, before you bring him home. You can also test your own dog out, in a controlled situation and on lead, if you are looking to add a cat to a doggy home.
Expect that it will take time for the two to get used to each other, particularly as one will also be getting used to a new home situation. Ensure they have somewhere safe and enclosed to get away from each other if needed. The initial introductions might require repetition, until both the dog and cat are relaxed.
Keep dogs on leash until you are sure of their reaction and to ensure that they won't overwhelm the cat. Rewarding good behaviour is essential with praise, treats, pats and games.
According to Animal Aid General Manager, Nell Thompson, the obvious signs that a dog and cat are getting along is when they begin to ignore each other for some of the time, and go about their own business.
"It is better to start with short periods of time together and build up, as the animals get use to each other." she said.
"There are many instances of where the cat and dog not only tolerate each other, but also become pretty good mates who are able to play and show affection to each other.
"Most family pets are happy to share their territory, but at the same time pet owners need to be mindful that pets also need their own space so have a separate area for eating and sleeping should they require it."
"The key is to respect their space and not coerce them into instantly liking each other. Get advice from the experts to assist you in having a happy family of pets and people. "