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Will They Fight Like Cats and Dogs?
Interspecies IntroductionsIntroducing a new member to the family is always difficult for the existing members. Getting a new dog or cat is akin to adding a new baby to the family. The other kids never like it! The same is true with animals.
However, they will generally come to accept the new family member and, in some cases, even learn to love them. You just have to keep a few things in mind.
Know the existing pet's personality: If your dog has always hated cats and every time he sees a cat, he chases madly after it, you might not want to get a cat. If your cat has been known to kill rabbits in the backyard, maybe introducing him to your new bunny is a bad idea. Use common sense.
Lay it on thick: When the new bundle of joy comes into the house, it's tempting to ignore the old pet while lavishing the cute, new thing with love (especially if it's a baby) however, be sure you let your older pet know that he isn't being moved out of his house. Give him a little extra attention so he won't get jealous.
Territory disputes: If the animals are going to share the house, you want to make sure they have separate eating and sleeping quarters. Otherwise, they may have potentially dangerous arguments over territory. Let the old pet eat and sleep where he always has and give the new pet his own area. If they become good friends later on, you can move their bowls and beds together and see what happens.
Observe, observe, observe: Watch them all the time they are together for at least a month before you leave them alone. If you aren't absolutely positive they will be OK, watch them until you are. Do they show any signs of aggression towards each other? One little growl or outstretched paw is enough for worry. Make sure they know that aggressive behavior is a no no.
Caged animals and other pets:NEVER leave a dog or a cat alone in the room with a caged animal if you aren't sure how they react towards each other. An animal in a cage can easily be hurt by an excited pet. I've even see cases where the animal in the cage somehow gets out and an excited family dog attacks it when the owners aren't home. If you have a caged animal in your house, introduce it to your pet (even if that just means showing him the cage and telling him "No"). Teach the uncaged pet that the cage and what is in the cage is off limits!
Patience: I'm a firm believer that most animals we keep as pets can be taught to cohabitate successfully (even if that just means blissfully ignoring each other). Some animals take longer than others. Just don't get impatient with them and risk the animals' lives and pretty soon, you'll have a happy inter-species household.
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