Cats and Dogs: Can They Be Happy Roommates?

cats and dogs

The other day as I came home from my morning run and walked into the house from the garage, my dog Bolt came racing from the living room to the side entry, where I was standing. He tried to dash around me as I blocked the door with my body.

As I wondered about Bolt’s behavior, I heard a meow and felt something brush up against my leg. The neighborhood wandering cat had crept into my garage and made her way to my threshold.  Bolt wanted absolutely nothing to do with this feline, who, by all accounts, has always been friendly.

As Bolt delivered multiple barks to alert the intruder that this was in his space, said cat finally got the message and left the premises without so much as a hiss, almost to suggest, “Dude, what’s the problem? I just came by to say hello. Chill out!”

So, that made me wonder just how people can successfully integrate cats and dogs within the same home.  Cats and dogs can get along, but it does take a few action steps on your part. offers some tips for helping cats and dogs live peacefully together.

Introducing New Cat To Dog

If you are bringing home a new cat, it’s important to give the pet time to adjust to the new space first and then to the additional animals.  Keep the cat in a separate environment for a few days, such as a closed bedroom that is stocked with scratching posts, toys, food, water and a litter box.  Don’t forget to give him a lot of attention, too.

Introducing New Dog To Cat

If you are bringing home a new dog, be sure to keep the cat in a separate part of the house and stick to the crate-training protocol for the dog.

Action Steps

You can place some of each animal’s personal items, like a bed or toy – in the other animal’s space so each one can get used to the other’s scent.  Once it appears each pet is calm and not stressed, it is time to make the introductions.  Keep your dog on a leash and allow the cat to walk around him.  Be sure to reward your dog with treats and praise as necessary when he exhibits calm behavior.

Keep Introduction Sessions Short

Limit the initial introduction to one more than 10 minutes. Once they animals become used to each other, increase the time together but keep the leash on the dog in the event you need to quickly regain control.  Bear in mind that patience is your biggest friend here. It can take weeks – or even months – for them to eventually accept each other.

Remember Each Pet’s Personality

Also be sure to keep your pet’s personalities in mind.  An easy going dog or cat will most likely adapt to the situation more than an aggressive animal, or one that’s extremely shy.  As we all know, when cats run, dogs pursue, and that is the last thing you want to happen.

Reinforce Commands

Keep your dog under control by going over basic commands with him prior to the initial introduction.  These may include such commands as “sit” or “stay.”  Cats are more confident around dogs that are in control.

Never Leave Pets Unsupervised

And until you are 100% confident that both the cats and the dogs can happily share space, never leave them together while unsupervised.  The safest way by which to do this is to crate your dog while you are away.

Until all parties are comfortable, you may not know who will be the leader of the pack.  That will establish itself in time. Until then, practicing patience will do wonders.


Realize this can take a while for cats and dogs to feel comfortable around each other, so a large amount of patience is usually required for success.

As for Bolt, he has never had much patience when it comes to others invading his space, he will always remind that neighborhood cat that he has German Shepherd prowess and skills!


Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.