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Dogs, cats can live happily in same home if given time

By Laverne Hughey
July 27, 2013 at 10 p.m.


According to an article in an issue of 'Your Dog,' several years ago, writer Christa Vegas says that merging a cat into a dog household, or vice-versa, can be a little tricky, but usually it works out quite well.

Ms. Vegas states that "bringing cats and dogs together requires patience, planning, and a little diplomacy on your part to ensure that things run smoothly." Obviously, it is understood that introduction a new cat or dog to a resident animal of the opposite species is not a trivial matter.

According to Ms. Vegas, "the age, breed, temperament and histories of both animals must be taken into consideration. Age and activity level, which tent to go hand in hand, are primary factors affecting any introduction."

It has been suggested that bringing an overactive puppy into a home where an aging cat has ruled for several years will probably be a difficult adjustment for the older pet. It will depend to a large extend on how active the older pet happens to be.

A friend told me about a friend of hers who has an elderly dog that was literally at death's door. In order to help ease the heartbreak of the older dog's demise, the owner decided to bring a puppy into the home. Amazingly, the older dog perked up and enjoyed playing with the youngster. The health of the dog improved dramatically and she lived another four years. You never know.

Apparently, a young animal can be the "kick in the pants" that a dog or cat needs to pull itself out of a slump, especially if it is mourning the death of a prior companion.

Many years ago, my husband and I rescued a young adult female dog on Christmas Eve, so we named her Chrissie. She was getting on in years when my husband rescued a tiny kitten. We knew nothing about cats and since the kitten was so very small, we were concerned that Chrissie would tear the kitten to bits.

The kitten was placed in a bedroom with food, water and a litter pan. We went in frequently to play with him and gentle him down as he was so wild. Chrissie would go to the door of the bedroom where the kitty was in "confinement." She would lie down and stick her paw under the door and make pitiful crying sounds. She wanted to see whatever was behind the door.

Finally, we gave in and opened the door so they could meet. It was love at first sight and the two were mad about each other for the rest of their days. The cat died first and several months later an adult cat came to our patio. We fed her, of course, and then she moved into the house. However, as much as she tried to be friends with Chrissie, it just never developed into a good relationship. The cat was totally ignored by the dog. They never had a fight, the cat was simply ignored.

There is no way to predict how a pet already in the home will react to a new pet. Sometimes it is not a choice an owner makes deliberately if there is a rescued animal involved that needs help. It is usually a good idea to keep the two apart and introduce them gradually, whether it is two dogs, two cats or a dog and cat.

An important thing to remember about young and older animals together, or dogs and cats together is the fact that they require different foods. An older animal will be trying to eat puppy food or kitten food because it is so rich and the aroma is enticing, as well as the taste. Youngsters may try to eat the older animal's food. Cats always seem to want dog food, and dogs definitely like cat food. The pet foods are made specifically for dogs, cats, puppies or kittens. Make every effort to prevent pets eating each other's food. Young animals are growing at a rapid pace and require certain nutrients that older animals should not have. Dog food is not nutritious for a cat, and cat food is much too rich for a dog. The new caretaker will need to be very careful that dogs and cats do not eat each other's food.

Good luck with that!

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