Blended families
introducing cats
and dogs
Blended families, introducing cats to dogs and dogs to cats in
your home
All rights reserved (c) 2009-2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen

Americans, especially urban American like New Yorkers love our pets.  There are cat
people and dog people and there are cat and dog people.  And then there are those single
pet owners who are thinking about another pet but are just not sure. Just how well can
dogs and cats get along? Especially if they have not been raised together?

Researchers, N. Feuerstein and Joseph Terkel studied the relationships of cats and dogs
living with humans in an article published in a 2008 edition of Applied Animal
Behaviour Science. The authors’ analyzed questionnaires distributed to 202 households
in Israel and observed cat and dog interactions in 25 of households surveyed. The
scientists found, that, yes, cats and dogs can live “amicably”, read happily, together.

According to the study, cats and dogs are more than adept at reading each other
signals and dogs will even adapt their own greeting behavior to accommodate the cats
in the house. When encountering each other, cats tend to sniff nose to nose while dogs
prefer a nose to tail sniff. When cats and dogs live together the nose sniff becomes the
universal greeting.

Other key points made were that dogs and cats seem to be the most successful in
adapting to each other when the cat is adopted first. Cats that are brought into the
family before or after a dog, seem to more readily become accustomed to the dog,
whereas when a dog is an established family member prior to a cat’s introduction the
dog may exhibit greater aggression or indifference to the cat. The reason for this is
thought to be the dog’s greater dependence on humans and what might look like and
perhaps be jealousy on the part of the dog. Don’t blame the dog though. Human
domestication of dogs has created this trait. Not only do we ask our dogs to work very
closely for us as farm dogs, hunting dogs and service dogs (all heavily dependent on
human direction and interaction). We also breed our dogs for what we consider
acceptable temperament-namely sociability with humans

Cats are famously more independent than dogs. Our domestication of cats has called
mainly for them to rid our grain stores from mice and rats. Cats are social and do
appear to enjoy interacting with humans but also appear to savor their solitude in a
way a dog doesn’t. But then again, the cat has not been asked to work as closely for
humans just to mostly coexist and purr.

Not surprisingly, the age of the dog or cat can be a factor as well. Babies get along well
with other babies. The researchers found that cats under six months of age and dogs
less than one year tended to have the lowest levels of aggression and indifference to
each other.

In situations, where the cat or dog is older or the dog is an established presence, I
believe these animals can still share a household as long as the human involved is
willing to take the time to “blend” the family.

Some common sense dictates: keep the animals as separate as possible initially—new
cats should always be introduced by installing them in a separate room (not the
garage) in your home. Allow days to weeks for a gradual supervised, introduction.
Take the time to do
additional research on taking the steps to accomplish this or consult
an animal behavior professional (your local animal shelter might offer consulting
information at no cost). And when travelling with animals that do not know each other
keep the animals separated from each other initially and only allow for closely
supervised visits—your dog should always stay on a leash and be under your control
around a new cat or dog.  Extra consideration, efforts and time may be required in the
introduction process for cats who have not been previously socialized with dogs and
dogs who have not been previously socialized with cats.

All rights reserved (c) 2009-2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen
"Cats that are brought into the
family before or after a dog, seem
to more readily become
accustomed to the dog, whereas
when a dog is an established
family member prior to a cat’s
introduction the dog may exhibit
greater aggression or indifference
to the cat." 
The right introductions and supervision can make for happy cats and dogs together
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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cats and dogs can all be one happy family
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
AnimalBehaviorist.us
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