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Dog, cat or both

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Is it possible for cats and dogs to live in harmony? 

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You’ve done all the quizzes, read all the books, and now you feel the time is right to get a dog. Just one little thing though – you also have a secret hankering for a cat. Well have no fear. It really is possible to have both a dog and a cat, you just have to choose carefully, and perhaps do a little more research before finally taking the plunge and introducing two (instead of the planned one) pets to the household.

The extra research should include which breeds of dog get on with cats, and which don’t. Well-socialized dogs and cats should have no problem sharing a home, but breed does play a role. Certain breeds of dog are more suitable than others, and likewise with cats. A cat with a breed tendency to be nervous will have greater difficulty accepting a dog’s presence. Some dog breeds were developed specifically to hunt by sight and others to seek out small creatures so are highly reactive to sudden movement. These breeds, with the very rare exception, do not make good companions for cats. The more docile and easy-going breeds such as retrievers and spaniels tend to make better cat friends.

Ideally you need to introduce your new puppy and kitten to the household together, but don’t just plonk them both down on the living room carpet and hope for the best! As with any pets, including older ones, you need to introduce them to each other slowly. Place kitten in a carrier where she feels safe, and let puppy sniff her so they can get to know each other. Then bring them together, keeping puppy on a lead and allowing kitten free access and an escape route. Never force the issue. Gradually they will learn to accept each other and eventually become the best of friends. You may find, however, that your dog will consider the cat his, but still bark at and chase strange cats that come onto his property. Likewise your cat will trust your dog, but be highly suspicious of strange dogs.

Breeds of dog who make good cat companions
Labrador Retriever
Golden Retriever
Basset Hound
Newfoundland
Great Dane
Clumber Spaniel
Chow Chow
Samoyed

Breeds of dog less suited to living with a cat
Sighthounds
Schnauzer
Border Collie
Boxer
Lhasa Apso
Shetland Sheepdog
Poodle
Terriers
Obviously there are exceptions to the rule

Some pro’s of having a dog and cat
•    Dogs and cats who have grown up together play well together and keep each other company
•    Pets are great to snuggle up with on cold winter nights
•    Cats and dogs are able to sense your mood and behave accordingly
•    A dog and cat playing can provide great entertainment and lighten everyone’s mood
•    Pets are fairly neat creatures and don’t usually need much in the way of tidying-up after

Some con’s of having a dog and cat
•    Pets do require some hands-on upkeep by the owner
•    Dogs can sometimes be tricked by a devious feline (a la Garfield and Ody) since they tend to be more trusting
•    Cats and dogs can get into mischief if food items are sitting out unattended – both are fully capable of counter surfing
•    Animals tend to intrude upon your bed space, which can compromise your quality of sleep

Text: Tracy Cox
Photography: Evgeny Prokofyer

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