What to know about multi-pet, interspecies households

Turning Points 4 min read

Do you already share your life with an adorable dog or a beloved cat? Are you thinking about adding to your animal brood? Introducing new animals into a household is no easy feat, but it isn’t a fruitless endeavor either.

In this article, you’ll find the pros and cons, as well as tips for a smooth transition and suggestions for the best breeds for cohabitation.

The pros and cons

Many of the benefits of owning several pets are the same as owning only one, just with a little extra boost. Sharing your home with more than one furry friend has added entertainment value as you watch them play together, as well as exponentially increasing the unconditional love in your life. Numerous studies have shown that pets help keep their humans happier and healthier—they encourage exercise as well as decrease depression and anxiety. For children, animals can help lower the onset of allergies, as well as teach responsibility via caretaking chores. For the animals themselves, it helps relieve separation anxiety when their humans are out of the house.

On the downside, the more animals you add to your house, the higher your expenses and the more work you need to put in. There will be further demands on your attention because even if your canine and feline companions help entertain each other, they still need undivided attention from you as well. Your ability to travel could be curtailed by logistics and increased expenses. Moreover, there is no guarantee that your cat and dog will get along.

If after all of this you’re willing to take the risk, there are a couple more things to consider. If you already have one pet, make sure they’ve been in the same home for at least a year before introducing a new animal. If you have no pets, consider adopting two at the same time, so they can begin adjusting to one another immediately. Ideally, you can find two who are already bonded—just ask your local shelter for any buddies they may have available for adoption.

The dos and don’ts of introducing animals

First and foremost, go slowly and be willing to back up a step if you need to. As always, patience is key when dealing with four-legged family members (and to be honest, two-legged human members, too!).

  1. Divide the house: You can use baby gates or exercise pens for this, or, depending on the layout of your house, simply close doors. In either case, ideal barriers will be opaque.
  2. Share meals: Once the animals are settled into their individual spaces, start feeding them at the same time on their respective sides of the divider.
  3. Swap scents: Sharing things like blankets or bedding from one animal with the other will help increase their familiarity with one another.
  4. Visual introduction: Switch to a see-through barrier, but continue the shared feeding times and scent swapping.
  5. Remove boundary: When both animals are ready (i.e., showing no signs of fear or aggression), you can remove the barrier for supervised interactions. Consider keeping your canine leashed and providing a place for your feline to hide or get away. While continuing the shared mealtime, don’t feed them too closely together. And pay close attention to their respective body language. Positive signs to watch for in dogs include a sweeping tail wag, no staring, and relaxed ears. For cats, you want to see a relaxed body, tail in the air, and relaxed ears.
  6. Increase movement: Keep the leash on your dog, try moving around more with both animals.
  7. Remove leash: Observe how the animals interact before moving on to the next step.
  8. Observe from a distance: Start by placing yourself farther away from both animals within the same room, then moving to another room, all while keeping an ear out for any trouble.
  9. If all else fails, don’t lose hope, but do hire a professional to help.

How you can set yourself up for success

There are no guarantees, of course, as each dog or cat will have its own individual personality and temperament, but below are some of the breeds most likely to get along with one another.

Cat breeds most likely to get along with dogs:

  • American shorthair—mellow and smart
  • Japanese bobtail—enjoys companionship and doing tricks
  • Siberian—playful and big enough to play with larger animals
  • Maine coon—gentle with dog-like behavior
  • Birman—friendly and calm
  • Norwegian Forest—curious and trainable
  • Tonkinese—like to climb and play fetch
  • Ragdoll—easy going and affectionate
  • Turkish Angora—high energy and smart
  • Turkish Van—energetic, “swimming cats”

Dog breeds most likely to get along with cats:

  • Basset hound—loyal and patient
  • Beagle—friendly and loving
  • Bichon frise—entertaining and sweet
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel—gentle and affectionate
  • Golden retriever—playful and adaptable
  • Labrador retriever—kind and outgoing
  • Maltese—small, gentle, and loving
  • Newfoundland—calm and protective
  • Pug—love attention, social
  • Shetland sheepdog—mild-mannered and welcoming

Clearly, there are challenges associated with growing your squad of pets, but when you can reap the benefits of unconditional love, isn’t it worth it? Remember, the steps to success are: a) consider the pros and cons before deciding; b) move slowly and carefully through the process; and c) carefully consider the breed, temperament, and personality of each furry family member.

The bottom line

Whether you’re introducing your cat to your dog or adding multiple pets to an existing household, it’s important to always keep your four-legged family members protected with Progressive. 

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical providers with respect to any information presented. Pets Best and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accept no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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