Zoë Knows: Cats & Dogs

Zoë is 12 years old and loves cats. She loves learning about cats and how best to take care of them and has agreed to share her knowledge with us as she learns. When she’s not hanging out with her two cats Libra (age 4) and Spooky (age 14), Zoë likes to read, draw, cook and swim at the beach.

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Zoë’s Aunt Kelly with Oliver, who was rescued when they found him on a hike near Oliver, BC

You’re sure to recognize the expression “fighting like cats and dogs”. That’s because cats and dogs sometimes don’t get along. So can you have a cat and dog together in one household? I wanted to find out. I turned to my Aunt Kelly, whose family is full of animals and animal lovers. Over the years, she’s had so many pets (cats and dogs alike), that it’s almost impossible to count.

The first time she had a cat and dog together was when they were living in Japan. They adopted a stray kitten, Claude, and an abandoned puppy, Byrtnoth, within the same week. The puppy and the kitten were the same tiny size and they cuddled up together from day one, licking one another. They were inseparable.

I interviewed my Aunt Kelly and here’s what she had to say:

Zoë: In your opinion, can cats and dogs live together?
Kelly: Yes, they can. We have done it several times and it has always, with a little work, been a success.

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Claude and Byrtnoth shortly after being rescued

Zoë: How did you first introduce your cats and dogs?
Kelly: I had two cats (Reggie, 11 and Oliver, 10) who we were introducing to our new dog (Apollo, 6). Apollo had never seen cats before. We kept the cats in a separate room and let Apollo explore the house. The animals could all see each other through a glass door, though Apollo didn’t care. We waited until Apollo was asleep and quiet and let Ollie in. He walked up and smacked him. Apollo didn’t care and went back to sleep.

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Oliver and Jellybean taking a nap

Zoë: How about your new 5-year old adopted cat Jellybean?
Kelly: We put Jellybean in one room and let her get used to the surroundings for a couple days and didn’t let either the cat or dog in. After three days we let Ollie the cat get onto the bed with Jeff (Kelly’s husband) laying between them. Ollie walked over and sniffed the new cat. Jellybean woke up and smacked him in the face. After that we split the house in two with our glass doors. Jellybean had half the house, Ollie and Apollo had the other half. They could see each other through the glass doors and they ate beside them. After a little bit, we opened the glass door as they were eating. We took away the bowls when they finished. Jellybean licked Ollie and got mad because he was so dirty (she’s a very very clean cat).

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Their new puppy Hugo out for a walk.

Zoë: You now have a new puppy named Hugo. How did you handle the introductions with him?
Kelly: Both the cats were already used to dogs and Hugo was so young (5 months) that we didn’t think he would have much of a problem, even though he’d never lived in a house before.

Zoë: Did you find better ways to introduce them as you kept doing it?
Kelly: Yes, definitely with the cats more then the dogs.

Zoë: What techniques would you recommend?
Kelly: Definitely introducing through the glass doors was really good. They can see each other but can’t get to each other. And the feeding too. You can do it with a baby gate as well.

Zoë:  Anything else you’d like to add?
Kelly: Really be careful as you don’t want to imprint bad behaviour on them, that will take longer to undo. It may seem like a lot of work but its worth it, now the cats are totally okay with each other and Hugo is… well he’s a work in progress, he’s a puppy after all!

One thought on “Zoë Knows: Cats & Dogs

  1. Another great post, Zoe! We introduced our new dog Bunbury to our cats almost five months ago. One thing we still have to be really careful with is when there is food involved. Buns is VERY protective and will get mad if the cats are anywhere near him when he has food. And they can’t even look at his bone without him going crazy! Keep up the great work, Zoe!

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