Can Dogs and Cats Really Live Together?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Consulting an animal professional can be helpful when deciding on whether to get a new pet.
Consulting an animal professional can be helpful when deciding on whether to get a new pet.

Many people believe that dogs and cats are mortal enemies, as the common phrase "fight like cats and dogs" points out. The truth, however, is that these animals can learn to live together in harmony, given the right conditions. In fact, a cat and a dog can sometimes get along better than two cats or two dogs living in the same household, because there is no struggle over territory. In the end, it is up to the owner to create a safe haven in which both animals can coexist.

While the majority of dogs do well when sharing a home with cats, some breeds have predatory instincts that will drive them to chase anything that moves. These include terriers, pit bulls, and most hunting breeds. These dogs can be taught to respect cats, but the process will be harder and with fewer chances for quick success.

The best possible scenario is for dogs and cats to grow up together. Introducing them to each other at an early age makes it more likely that they will accept each other's presence. The second best scenario is to bring a dog into a cat's household. Cats tend to be extremely territorial, so it is always better for them to feel comfortable before a dog comes along. If the pet owner is adopting an older animal from a shelter, he or she should find out as much possible about its previous history. If the animal experienced abuse or was attacked in the past, it will be less likely to adapt to sharing a household, no matter how docile the companion is.

Whatever the situation, owners should make sure that cats have access to hiding spaces where they can get away from irritating dogs if necessary. This can be an extra room closed with a baby gate, a few empty bookshelves, a windowsill, or even a cat tree. Giving the cat a feeling of security will reduce the chances of confrontation. While the pets may not become friends overnight, patience and consistent work will eventually help them live in harmony.

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Discussion Comments


I have an 11 year old Himalayan Persian. I would like to bring in a Yorkie. My Persian has never seen a dog, and loves my attention. Would this be a problem for him?


I have a hunting dog and a cat who we rescued after she was abandoned on the streets when she was only six weeks old. My dog adores her. They sleep together, play together, clean one another and we have never had any issues! I truly believe that your animals are what you make them. They need love, guidance, consistent but gentle training and they need to know the boundaries. When our cat had kittens, our dog guarded them and our cat let her. They shared the role of being mummy. When the kittens were eight weeks old, they all slept with our dog.


I have three Maltese 'children' and two cats, and apart from one or two days over the past five years, they all get along as if they'd always been together.

Maui runs out with the dogs to greet me when I get home from work, and she knows no fear of dogs at all. Thomas cat was badly hurt by humans, so it is amazing to see how well he adapted to his forever home after getting in my car when I went to the kitty shelter to deliver food one Saturday four years ago. I can't imagine life without them.

My life partner of 22 years died last month, and we all mourned together, but they never let me be down for long. Everyone always wants attention and love, and they just have so much to give back.


Help! How do I get my new kitten and my three year old dog to get along? They've met a few times and the dog is calm but the kitten growls and tries to "attack" the dog. How do I get the kitten to tolerate my dog?


My husband and I had a really good experience bringing my two adult cats and his adult dog together when we moved in together after getting married. They're not best buddies, but we all live in peace. We have a 125 pound Alaskan Malamute (so I was very concerned for the safety of my cats) but it worked out really well.

The weekend before the wedding I bought a six foot tall kitty condo and put it in the sun room of my husband's house. The night before the wedding, I brought the cats over and locked them in the sun room (with the dog outside). I think any room would do, but this worked great because it has glass doors and the dog and cats could check each other out through the glass. You could probably do the reverse by kenneling a dog and leaving the cats loose, but this made more sense to us because the cats were very content to have their own room.

Once we lived together we had 'supervised visitations' when we were home. We made sure during this time both the dog and cats got lots of attention from both of us. We didn't force them together right away either. The cats were terrified so we just let them wander the house and be wherever they were comfortable while the dog laid with us. Eventually their curiosity won out. We put the cats back in the sun room when we went to work or bed so I knew they were safe. Within a month we started leaving them out while we were sleeping. It was another month before I was totally confident about them being together. They've been together for a year now and we've never had an incident.

The biggest problem was teaching the dog not to jump in on the cat's play sessions. He tends to want to play with them, but we had to keep telling him no. Now when he wants to play he lies flat on the ground and 'army crawls' towards them to avoid scaring them (I think even lying flat he's taller than them).

The best thing we did was get the kitty condo. We put their food and water on the top perch so the dog doesn't get at it, and whenever they've had enough of him they just go in there and he realizes that's their space and he has to leave them alone.

Be careful not to assume that because your dog is good with your cats that they're safe with all cats. Our dog still sees other cats in a very different light then 'his' cats --because I'm convinced he thinks they're his.


i have a staffy cross who is one year old i also have a cat and its kitten. my dog has took the mother role with the kitten and i must add the cats rule the house. is this right for a dog to let this happen? also the dog goes for other dogs but not cats. I'm so confused.


We have had a our cat for 12 years and she has never not come home for dinner, but since we got a new addition to the family, our one year old dog, she does not want to come home. can someone help us find an answer? how do we get them to get on.


He was born to an abandoned house cat {we think} that gave birth in a derelict home that was just being renovated, and my bro in law found one crushed already and took the kittens home. I brought Ruk home at 9-10 weeks because I was remodeling my bed room but visited him often).

Ruk was about four months old when I ended up watching a neighbor's dog a few hours every day (4 year old golden retriever). At first Ruk was terrified of the dog. Then he acted annoyed with the dog but extremely cautious (would stalk from a distance or perch). Then after a week of watching the dog he jumped on the dog's back right above one of his hind legs in bell claw-teeth attack mode and ran.

After that he was a mix between playful and attack mode. At the end though, they seemed to get along, and Ruk played a lot nicer.


I have a female american bulldog one year old. My sons want a kitten for christmas, so the question is do we get one or two? I've read the benefits of getting two kittens at a time, but is that still necessarily the case with a dog at home?


we have had two cats for a while and now a german shepherd, he won't stop chasing them and scaring my cats. they won't eat. what do i do?


My husband and I have a 14 month male Lab/Dane cross. He is very territorial and can be very aggressive. Last week we brought home a seven week old male Maine Coon from the shelter and they fell in love.

The dog has somehow taken on maternal instincts. He bathes the baby kitty and tattles on him when he is being bad. The dog has his bed in the living room and the kitty has taken it over. He paced for a day or two but now he just shares it.

Earlier today there was a knock at the door and instead of the dog running to the door, he ran to protect his baby brother. He lay on their bed and covered him with his arm. Mind you, this is a dog not even my family likes because of his crazy behavior.

It can happen, people. Just find a chill kitty that needs lots of love and stay on the dog.


I have a chow/shepherd mix too, who was five when I brought home a kitten. She took to the kitten immediately, treating it as if it were her own baby.

Two years later, the cat gets multiple baths a day (which he hates) and the two are very close. The cat has taken on some doggie characteristics (he growls when he feels threatened) and the dog has taken on some kitty characteristics (she washes her face by licking her paws and wiping it from her ears down). They share a water bowl and share the very rare treats well too. And boy do they make a ruckus when they are playing!


I have a cat and two dogs. The cat came as a found stray kitten into the house with another dog (my brother's) already in the home. The dog was a curious but not aggressive mastiff mix and kitty took her time getting used to him.

When brother and dog moved out I got a new dog a few weeks later. This new pit-mastiff mix (about 12 months) was very curious about the cat and she was not happy about the new family member. She kept her distance but got closer with time and finally decided he was not a threat. Months later I added a Chihuahua to the mix (or he added himself as he is a found stray) and again the cat hated the new dog at first but warmed up to him.

She now cuddles and plays with him and follows me and the dogs on walks teasing them. My dogs are not good dogs, either. they are generally crazy and don't always get along well with other animals but somehow they understand that the cat is part of their family. The pit just barked at me to let the cat in the door!

Over time a number of dogs have visited and the cat has the same M.O. of watching from a distance and getting closer as she gets comfortable, and she does the same with new people. I cannot attribute the harmony to my bad dogs. I think I just got a really chill and sensible cat who decided she can handle these guys.

It's her house she can hold her own and when the dogs annoy her she puts them in their place. I have always made sure her food and cat box are not accessible to the dogs as those are apparently irresistible. I think a lot of it just depends on the personality of the pets, especially the cat, as dogs are easier to teach and train.


My boyfriend and I have two 1-year old American Pitbull Terriers, and we recently adopted a kitten who had been wandering around a friend's house. For anyone who says cats and hunting/working dogs can't get along should probably work on better obedience training with their dogs, because to say our three just get along is a major understatement! Our two dogs adore the kitten.

He was a little frightened by their size at first, but now you'd think he believed them his brother and sister lol! It's definitely a sight to see!

It's all about how well you train your pups and going into the situation with too much doubt and anxiety. Be confident in your ability as the 'master' and your babies trust in you!!


Please help. I have a four year german shepherd dog and i have just got two kittens. how can i get them to be friends?


I reckon that dogs and cats will sooner or later just get used to each other like my cat and dog did. Once, I even caught them sleeping in the same bed!


I have five dogs, three cats, and a gerbil. The male cat and my older female cat love the dogs better than my other female cat; however, they all get along.

I have two pointers, a lab, a lab mix, and a schnauzer mix. Every morning one of the pointers tries to play with the cats, and they put him in his place. They share beds too. Only thing I do is give the cats a place to go to eat or get away when the dogs are too much.


Of course they can. I have three cats, previously four, and a german shepherd dog. My dog adores my cats, he washes them and is very protective of them. He's not happy until all his little family is in the house safe and sound. Many times I've had a dog and various cats asleep in one bed!


Dogs and cats living together? Mass hysteria!


I have a hunting dog and i really want to get a kitten! Could the hunting dog get used to the cat? My dad said they won't, and he talks and talks and talks and yes i get it, so would he please shut up. Oh and does their pee stink?


I already have two cats which are 2 years old. I'm thinking about getting a Shipoo dog. I think they would get along along since the dog is pretty small. But the cats are used to extra care and loving. Will they adapt?


Dear katcal424,

I know of a way to get cats used to each other and it might work for your animals. Put the cat and dog in separate rooms and let them stay like that for a while, then switch. Make the cat go into the room that the dog was on and do the same for the dog. Let them get used to each other's smell before they go face-to-face with each other.


My boyfriend will be moving in with me in a couple of months. I have a 5 year old cat he has a 6 year old German Sheppard mix. We tried introducing them, the dog wants to play the cat starting hissing and growling. Is there hope that they can get along?


I have two amstaffs 3 and 1 year old how i can add cat to my family?


I have a 12 year old cat and I am looking at bringing a dog into the household, most likely a beagle. Would this be possible?


We have a Parson Russell & a cat who live together quite happily - they both sleep in the same place - the cat is the oldest pet of the house it also lives quite happily with the rabbits (so does the dog). I am seriously thinking about getting a Patterdale Terrier but wonder whether the dog would get on with it. Outside of his home he is quite aggressive towards other dogs. Can anyone help.


please help! we have had our cats for about 8 years and have previously owned a yorkie who got on fine with them. Sadly we don't have this dog anymore so we got a new one. We were told when we got him he would probably adapt to the cats but it has not been so. He is a jack russell so a terrier and he is also 11! we love him dearly but he is not so keen on the cats. we really really want to keep him so are there any tips????


My cat is 7 years old and a house cat. I brought a 7 week Jack Russell into our home. Since then, my cat has started licking the hair off of her belly and back legs and tail. My vet says it's an allergy? I thing the dog is making her sick. Help!


My girlfriend and I have been wondering about this. She has an older English Bulldog of about 5 years and I have a cat that is about a year and a half old. We have been talking about moving in and the pet situation always comes up. Neither one of us want to get rid of an animal but I really don't want to come home and find her dog ate my cat. I think the slow approach is the way to go but will the bulldog/cat mix work or is it just asking for trouble?


I recently put a 14 year old Chow/Shepard to sleep who helped me raise 40+ kittens from one day old to 8 weeks old. She helped me raise and adopted a one day old kitten; told me when they were waking so I could prepare their formula; hunted them down when they got under the furniture. Told me when they were sick cause she would snarl and not allow them near her. I would take them to the vet. Protected them, broke up the fights of the 9 I kept over the years. She would yell at them and only the first one would she let cuddle with her. Which walked outside with my husband.

However she was not good with other dogs. Other cats in the neighborhood she would try to be friends with.

The mother of this first kitten also dropped off one of her kittens a few weeks after to a house that had a dog. She chose this house. And made sure the kitten was taken in. I know other people who also have been successful. Only two stories I have heard of that were horrible. I fostered two mothers with kittens and my dog thought nothing of wanting to be a part of this, these easy mannered mothers turned wild! Suddenly I was torn up by blocking their attack on her face! That was a lesson, too.

Always take a chance with supervised introductions. I believe that a positive attitude will be picked up too.

She was a hunter but if I told her gentle kisses, mommy, she would be even gentle to a baby bird.


Interesting, I guess we were just lucky, I have a 3 year old hunterway (Sheep dog), we got him when he was 2, now 9 months later neko (our then 9 week old kitten) came into the home, almost instantly they got on, and within a week she was showing the dog that this was her space. At the times when they are together, they get on sweetly, the dog likes to herd her sometimes, using his sheep herding skills, but apart from that, they dot fight, they're actually protect each other! it's Amazing

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    • Consulting an animal professional can be helpful when deciding on whether to get a new pet.
      By: Monkey Business
      Consulting an animal professional can be helpful when deciding on whether to get a new pet.