Dogs and cats together: building a harmonious relationship

Hond en kat samen aan het knuffelen, close-up
Dog and cat cuddling together, close-up, illustration that dogs and cats can live together

Bringing dogs and cats together in one home can be a challenge. It is often thought that these two species cannot live well together, but with the right approach and guidance, it is certainly possible to build a harmonious relationship between dogs and cats. In this article, we explain the best way to handle this and what you can do to prevent problems.

The nature of dogs and cats

To begin, it is important to understand the nature of both dogs and cats.


Dogs are naturally social animals that like to be part of a pack. They are usually affectionate and loyal and are often used to following orders from their owner. This makes it easier to train and guide them in their dealings with other animals.


Cats are naturally more independent and territorial than dogs. They often need more time and space to adapt to new situations and may be less likely to accept new animals. However, this does not mean that cats cannot interact with dogs; it just takes a little more patience and guidance.

The first introduction

When you want to introduce a dog and cat to each other for the first time, it is important to do it the right way.

The right environment

Be sure to choose a neutral environment where neither animal feels threatened or uncomfortable. For example, this could be a space where neither animal has been before, or a place in the garden.

Introduction techniques

At first, let the animals watch and smell each other from a distance. It is wise to keep the dog on a leash so he cannot jump directly at the cat. Give both animals time to get used to each other and don’t force anything. Reward good behavior with a treat or compliments so they build positive associations with each other.

Living together in the home

Once the initial introduction has gone well, you can slowly get the animals used to each other in the house.

Space distribution

Make sure both animals have their own space where they feel safe and comfortable. This could be separate rooms or a specific spot in the living room, for example. Also provide plenty of hiding places and high places for the cat to flee to if it feels threatened.

Food and drink

Place the dog’s and cat’s food and water bowls in different places in the house so they don’t have to compete with each other for their food. This helps prevent territorial conflicts.


Do not let the dog and cat sleep together in the beginning. Give them each their own sleeping place so they feel comfortable and safe. Over time, when they have established a better bond, you can possibly let them sleep together if they want to.


Encourage interaction between the dog and cat by playing together. Use toys suitable for both animals and make sure they each have a chance to play without feeling threatened.

Behavior recognition

To foster a harmonious relationship between dog and cat, it is important to be able to properly recognize their behavior.

Stress signals

Watch for signs of stress in both dog and cat. This may manifest as excessive barking, growling, meowing, scratching or other unusual behavior. If you notice any of the animals getting stressed, give them some space and time to calm down.

Positive interaction

Positive interactions between the dog and cat are important for building a good bond. This could include playing together, licking each other clean or just lying next to each other.


Problems may arise between the dog and cat. It is important to address these in the right way.


If aggression develops between the dog and cat, it is important to intervene immediately. Keep the animals apart and give them time to calm down. Try to find out what is causing the aggression and work toward a solution.

Territorial conflicts

Territorial conflicts can arise when one of the animals feels its territory is threatened. Make sure that both animals have enough space and that they do not have to compete with each other for their food or sleeping place.


Getting dogs and cats together can indeed be a challenge, but it is certainly not impossible. With the right approach, patience and guidance, these animals can build a harmonious relationship and live together in one home. Pay attention to their behavior and needs, and intervene when problems arise. Thus, dog and cat can eventually appreciate each other’s company and form a happy household.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for dogs and cats to get used to each other?

This varies by situation and individual animal. Some animals get along well after just a few days, while others take weeks or even months to get used to each other. Be patient and give both animals the time they need to get used to each other.

What if my dog and cat really don’t get along?

If you find that your dog and cat are not getting along despite your best efforts, it is important to seek professional help. A behaviorist can help you identify the cause of the problems and find a solution that works for both animals.

Can I introduce a kitten to an adult dog, or vice versa?

It is certainly possible to introduce a kitten to an adult dog, or a puppy to an adult cat. However, it is important to be extra careful because the young animal is more fragile and may need more time to adjust to the new situation.

Should I keep my dog and cat separate when I am not home?

In the beginning, it is wise to keep your dog and cat separate when you are not at home to make sure there are no problems. If over time they have developed a good bond and you are confident that they are getting along well, you can also leave them together when you are not home.

Can I keep several dogs and cats together in one house?

Yes, this is possible. However, make sure you have enough space for all the animals and that they each have their own place to retreat. Introductions between multiple dogs and cats can be more complex, so be patient and careful when bringing multiple animals together.

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