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Tips From A Burlington, ON Veterinarian: Helping Cats And Dogs Get Along 

February 15, 2024

Dogs and cats are the most popular pets here in Canada. Many people are all-in for one or the other, and are adamant dog people or cat people, as it’s often called. There are also many households that have a mix of both. While Fluffy and Fido have had a rather rocky relationship over the years, they can cohabitate peacefully. They often also settle on a sort of truce, and basically ignore each other. However, that isn’t guaranteed. Sometimes cats and dogs fight like, well, cats and dogs. Read on as a local Burlington, ON vet offers some helpful advice on keeping the peace.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Get Used To A Dog?

Cats are very much creatures of habit, and tend to adapt to major changes very slowly. It could take Fluffy as much as a year to get accustomed to her canine roommate. This will somewhat vary: if your feline buddy is used to being around dogs, it may not take very long at all. Go slowly here: trying to reverse or undo the damage of a bad first meeting can be quite challenging! 

Will My Cat And Dog Eventually Get Along?

There’s no way to answer that question as a generality: it depends on the ages, temperaments, sizes, and histories of both pets. In many cases, Fido and Fluffy may be wary and uneasy about each other at first, but learn to get along in time.  Don’t give up hope! 

How Do I Stop My Cats And Dogs From Fighting?

There are some definite don’ts here. You don’t want to yell at or strike your dog if he’s gone after your cat. This may make matters worse. Fido may start associating the cat with being punished, which won’t make him any more fond of her. 

The immediate thing to do would be to separate them. Then, go back to square one and reintroduce them. 

It’s worth mentioning that one of the best things you can do is make sure that both of your pets are getting ample exercise and play time. Because many cat toys can be choking hazards for dogs, you’ll want to keep Fluffy’s toys in a spot Fido can’t reach. 

Should I Have Both A Dog And A Cat? 

This depends on the dog and the cat. Fido’s age, size, and temperament are very important here. Some dogs just have a natural prey drive. This can not only make for unhappy roommates: it can actually be dangerous. In the wild, many dogs survive by hunting small animals. Cats can sometimes trigger that predatory instinct. 

Fluffy isn’t always innocent here: sometimes cats are the instigators! However, while those sharp teeth and claws can inflict some damage, for the most part the kitty is at much greater risk. 

How Do I Keep My Cat Safe From My Dog? 

First and foremost: you’ll need to give Fluffy a few places to retreat to where Fido can’t reach her. A cat tower with an enclosed upper level can be a good choice. You may also be able to cut a small cat door in the door to a spare bedroom or even a part of the house. Your feline pal should be able to get to food, water, and a litterbox without having to come in contact with Fido. 

How Do I Introduce A Cat And Dog? 

Let’s start with what you don’t want to do. Don’t just throw Fluffy and Fido into a room together and hope for the best. You need to ease them into things. Put them in separate areas at first. Whichever pet is newer should be kept in a separate area at first. Provide all of the necessities: food, water, toys, bedding—and visit frequently, but give them a few days to settle in. 

Over the next few days, you’ll likely see your pets sniffing around the door. This will help them get used to each other’s scents. Feed them close to each other, such as on opposite sides of the door. 

When both pets seem to have accepted the fact that there’s another pet in town, you can let them meet. This should happen on a neutral spot. One thing you can do is bring your cat out in a carrier. Or, let them meet through a baby gate. 

When you feel you’re ready, let them meet face-to-face. Keep Fido leashed for this interaction. Pay close attention to how they act. It’s normal for them to be a little excitable at this point. That should taper off steadily. If things don’t go well, separate them and start over.

How Do You Know If A Cat And Dog Will Get Along? 

The work here starts long before you bring your new pet home. It’s all about finding the right match. If you’re adopting a shelter dog, look for one that has been evaluated as good with cats. Adopting a puppy? Avoid breeds that have a strong prey drive. 

It’s also important to pick pets with matching personalities. You’ll likely have a better chance of success if both of your pets are couch potatoes. It will often help if Fido and Fluffy grow up together, though this may not negate the risk of a breed with strong prey drive. 

Keep in mind that, while Fido is usually the greater threat, he isn’t always the instigator. Fluffy can—and does—pick fights with her furry roommate. 

Age also factors in. Dogs are often more tolerant of kittens. It’s always cute seeing a pup patiently letting a tiny furball pounce on his tail, or acting as a giant mattress for a sleepy kitten. 

Always put safety first. If you know or suspect that your dog may attack or harm your cat, don’t go forward. 


Training is also key. Make sure that Fido knows and obeys basic commands, such as Sit, Stay, Come, and Lay Down. You may want to ask your vet for advice on how to incorporate ‘Leave The Kitty Alone’ into your canine pal’s training regimen.

Feed Carefully

Tussles over food are one of the more common sources of tension. You may need to take a few steps to help things go smoothly. Feeding Fluffy in an area Fido can’t reach is one option. 

What To Do If Your Dog And Cat Don’t Get Along?

There are cases where you can do everything right, from selecting the right match to carefully introducing your pets to providing everything they need, but still end up with pets that don’t get along. Your furry friend’s safety should always be paramount. In some cases, you may be able to keep them separated. Fluffy may get the upstairs, while Fido stays downstairs, for instance. However, in some cases, the only safe option is to rehome one of the pets. This should always be a last resort, but it’s definitely a better option than having one of your animal friends injured. 

Conclusion: While Fluffy and Fido may not always be the best of buddies naturally, they often do learn to cohabitate. In some cases, they become best buddies! By being careful and consistent, you can help reduce the chances of friction. 

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us, your Burlington, ON pet hospital, today! 

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Tips From A Burlington, ON Veterinarian: Helping Cats And Dogs Get Along 

Dogs and cats are the most popular pets here in Canada. Many people are all-in
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