Kim Houston advises how to create a happy environment for a cat and dog living together.

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When we first got our puppy my cat became very distant and stayed out of the way. Over the past few months she has started to spend more time around our dog. She will raise her back to him and stretch out close to him. Is this a sign that she likes him or is she trying to warn him off?

Kim says: Contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs can live harmoniously under one roof. In fact, some develop a very strong bond and can become firm friends, and it sounds as though your cat and new puppy are certainly heading in this direction.

From your description of their interactions, and of your cat’s body language, it sounds really positive. The fact your cat is choosing to spend more time around the puppy and is comfortable enough to stretch out close to him is very encouraging.

However, let your cat lead the way with the interactions and never force the two of them together. What we have to remember is that dogs and cats are two entirely different species, with different needs.

Also, try to ensure the puppy is never allowed to chase your cat. Dogs; but, especially puppies, can find this very exciting and rewarding, and it can be difficult to stop once this behaviour has been started.

There may be times when your cat needs a bit of a timeout from your puppy, and, with this in mind, provide plenty of high up resting areas so she can escape his unwanted advances. Cats live in a three-dimensional world, and often feel safe and secure when up high. This has the added advantage that your puppy won’t be able to reach her. I am sure that, over time, your dog and cat will become best friends!

Kim Houston – BSc (Hons), Dip (AS) CABC, CCAB is a consultant in feline behaviour. She works with clients throughout the UK, helping to resolve cat behaviour problems. Find out more at www.cat-astrophes.com


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