Dogs and Cats .. Aahh!

Dogs and cats are traditionally arch-enemies: think of all those cartoons featuring frenetic cat-chases! But I've found that my dogs and cats get along really well together. You can see Poppy and Christmas forming an orderly queue for treats in this picture, and there are other images dotted about of cats and dogs getting on just fine - see the cosy scene on our Dog Beds page .

It all depends on how you introduce the dogs and cats in the first place. If you're starting with a puppy, using the methods in Puppy Training, the dog and cat situation will always be under your control as the pup will be in his crate, out of harm's way, whenever you're not there.

So you can let the cat discover the puppy in a casual way - very often simply appearing to ignore what's going on is the best policy. Let both dogs and cats know that they don't need to be jealous of one another. Feeding and fussing over the older animal first is a good way to show this. In any case, an early scratch on the puppy's nose from the cat will probably ensure that she lives a peaceful life from then on!

"Mr.Dog, meet Miss Kitten ..."

Then to introduce a kitten to an adult dog - just reverse the process! Put the kitten, with her bed and litter-tray, in your dog's old crate. The kitten is now protected from any unwanted attention when you're not around. Once the novelty of the new arrival has worn off, you'll be able to let both dogs and cats mosey along together.

I've always found my dogs and cats fascinated by any newcomer to the household, and they're ready to play as soon as they get the chance. Of course you have to supervise any play between dogs and cats while the kitten is tiny.

If you have taught your dog that you decide the House Rules, he'll be happy to go along with your wishes - and your wishes will clearly state that Cat is not on the menu.

The last kitten to arrive here (don't they just drift in, shortly after you've decided on NO MORE cats?) was the one to initiate most of the rough-and-tumbles with the dog she selected as her special friend. Indeed she still does. The play between dogs and cats can get quite rough at times, and we have regular chases through the house, but it's all well-meant, and no-one ever gets damaged. If this kind of dogs and cats rough-and-tumble happens often, you may just want to move the more delicate family heirlooms to a higher shelf ...

I've had several cats that like to come on walks with us, and one who will intercept me on the road, ambushing the dogs from behind a tree or wall. Then she'll stand in the middle of the pavement, barring our way and sniffing the dogs' noses. This always astonishes passers-by, who don't realise it's our cat!

One of the terrific advantages of bringing up dogs and cats together is that I never have to fear for my dogs' behaviour if we visit a friend with cats, and there's less chance of my cats getting chased under a car by a neighbour's dog.

The More Dogs and Cats, the Merrier

All in all, having dogs and cats in the household makes life more fun. The same can be said for chickens, goats, budgerigars, tropical fish ...

There's no reason why dogs and cats can't get on as they do with any other inmates of the house. But if you are really in fear for your cat's life when you get a new dog, then get some professional help from a qualified animal trainer or behaviourist. That's so worth doing - you will find your life improves immeasurably once you have a dog you can trust, and so will your poor cat's.