The biggest worry I had about moving in with my guy wasn’t which dishes to keep or where to put my (smaller) television. I was worried about how our pets would get along.
My cats (both male, 8 and 9 years old) had never met a dog before and are incredibly spoiled.
We tried introducing the cats to his dog –a 95-pound, 7-year-old female German shepherd– before the move and it did not go well. My cat, ironically named Lovie, bit my man after trying to attack his dog. Needless to say, I was convinced that our animals would be separated for life.
But our family, like any family needs time to blend and we found that time was all it took for our 3 “kids” to adjust to the change. (Or at least ignore each other, like good siblings.)
It took a few weeks of close supervision before they finally understood that they’re all here for good.
Here are 3 tips to get cats and dogs to cohabit without bloodshed.
Take it slow. Don’t force them to interact. Cats especially aren’t fond of being forced to do anything. Let them get used to the new space and new players on their own time. Use calming tools, if necessary. We used Bach Rescue Remedy and ComfortZone diffusers for both the cats and the dog.
Give them their own space. Cats need to feel like they have a safe haven in which to escape. We put a baby gate in an extra bedroom’s doorway so the cats could go in and out without worrying about the dog. The dog quickly learned that space wasn’t for her.
When they do interact, supervise but don’t interfere unless necessary. Just like siblings, they have to figure out what’s what on their own terms. Yes, our dog is about 5 times the size of the cats, but she won’t do much more than sniff them. If she’s too close, they let her know.
Honestly, the one with the biggest adjustment was me. Letting go of the worry and trusting that they would be OK was difficult for me. I wanted to hover all the time. But, the more I let them be, the faster they relaxed and got acquainted.
Maybe one day they will be best friends …
Or not. They are pretty set in their ways.