Here are a few steps you can take to set your home up for dog and cat coexistence:
- The cat should always have a dedicated room or closet that is predictably dog-free. You can use a pet gate with a cat door, a ramp system on the wall, a strap that keeps the door just ajar, or even a microchip-activated cat door.
- Provide safe vertical spaces for your cat in every room you’d like them to be in (and that they’d like to be in).
- These can include ramps, floating shelves (or non-floating shelves), high counters, cat trees, mantles, or any other structure that allows them to be out of reach of the dog.
- Consider the footing on the surfaces they will be using to get to these spaces. You may want to put down some rubber matting, carpet, or other textured surface if they’re slipping.
- Create comfortable spaces/perches for them in their safety spots. This will encourage them to use them and hang out there. Having comfy blankets and/or something to hide in and look out on the world are huge pluses.
- You can introduce their spots while the dog is outside/in the crate by feeding small portions of their meals there.
- Ensure your dog gets good exercise and a chance to do fun dog things every day. Having pent-up energy can make it harder not to chase cats and to listen if you ask them to come or go to their spot.
- Prevent any practice of stalking behavior/staring by your dog: This might mean your dog is on a leash in the house, dragging a leash, and/or that you’re practicing and playing recall around the cat regularly.
Some cats decide they’re quite happy to live separately from dogs, and some become more and more social and relaxed about being around their dog. (Most cats need several months to make it to this point, if they’re going to get there.) Keeping their interactions around the house consistent, predictable, and safe can bring out their best!