Cats & Dogs: Managing a multi-species household

By Katie Scott Dyer CDBC

In 2019, Cats Protection rehomed 41,000 cats and the Dogs Trust rehomed 11,790 dogs. That’s a lot of pets potentially moving into the home of another! Each pet is an individual, so how can we make the transition easier for them?

Introducing a dog to a cat household

(and vice versa)

Domestic cats are a social species, some selectively depending on factors such as environment and early social experience, and they can form strong attachments to their caregivers. If a cat is content, they will display their normal behaviours such as grooming, hunting and play. This can be disrupted when changes occur because cats are especially vulnerable to acute stress and can quickly lose their appetite. If this becomes chronic, it can cause not only behavioural issues but can cause urinary and digestive issues. Seek vet advice if you notice a change in digestive or toileting behaviours.

Plan ahead

Begin adapting to the environment gradually, so your current pet has a chance to get used to the new arrangements. Have a look at your home and think like a cat, get to know them as a species and similarly for the dog too. By learning how they communicate and behave, and what their needs are as an individual, you’ll be able to see what changes should be made and where, making the introduction to the home smoother. Keep your expectations realistic, things don’t always go according to plan and the new pet may not be right for your situation.

Cats need to have quiet places to be alone or hide in, and high observation areas. They also need to eat and drink and sleep with a sense of safety, so place food and water stations separately and in a location where they can view the home as they eat or drink. Cats also need to be able to groom and go to the loo in peace. Allocate a space, maybe upstairs or a different room, that is specifically for your cat. If they are indoor cats, they need plenty of choice for toileting, with their preferred type of litter substrate. They also need a scratching surface to maintain nail health and scent transfer.

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