Pet lovers have all weighed the decision of adopting another pet, or leaving it at one (or two or three). It becomes more complicated when adding a cat to a dog’s family and vice versa. The phrase ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ started for a reason. Cats and dogs don’t always get along, and when they fight, they can really hurt each other. So how can you keep all your pets safe in a multi-pet household? 

This quick guide will help you decide if adding another pet to your family is a good idea. We’ve also included a few tips on how to keep everyone safe if you decide to take the plunge. 

Can Cats and Dogs Live Together? 

Deciding if you should add a new pet to your home can be difficult. Of course you want more furry friends to love. And with a companion, you won’t have to worry about your pet feeling lonely while you are away. 

However, having two pets is twice as expensive. Veterinarian bills, food costs, grooming, and other expenses add up the more pets you have. You also have to consider your pet’s feelings. Are they the type that would get along well with another pet, or would they see another animal as an intruder?

Because they are usually smaller in size, dogs might see cats as prey. This can be very stressful for the cat, even if the dog just wants to play, and lead to situations that are dangerous for both pets. On the other hand, cats can be very territorial. They might attack the dog if it gets too close, or start marking their territory indoors.

But just because cats and dogs have not always gotten along, they are perfectly capable of living together in harmony. As long as you take some precautions, making the move from a single-pet household to a multi-pet household should go smoothly.

Four Tips for Building a Safe Multi-Pet Household

1: Adopt younger animals. 

Older pets might be a bit set in their ways and could become territorial. Being able to raise a cat and dog together also increases the likelihood of them living together harmoniously because of the socialization between the two. 

2: Go slow with the introductions.

Takes time to find and acclimate a new pet to the family. Start with a brief new pet introduction, where the dog is leashed and the cat is in a carrier. Keep the two pets in separate rooms, then switch the rooms without changing the bedding or vacuuming. This will help them learn their housemate’s new smell and ease their excitement. 

Next, start feeding them on opposite sides of the same door so they become accustomed to the other pet’s smells and associate that scent with food. Always pay attention to your pet’s body language—it can help you notice if one of them is becoming stressed.

3: Make sure each pet has their own space.

Each pet should have a space that is their own, and you need to enforce those rules. If you crate-train your dog, do not allow the cat to go inside their crate. Likewise, do not allow your dog to jump on cat towers. This training will give your pets places they can go to avoid each other if needed.

4: Do not leave your pets together unsupervised. 

Until their personalities have been on full display, do not allow your pets to have unsupervised time together. Wait until you are convinced that they are compatible and comfortable with each other before you start to allow them small amounts of unsupervised time. Before you leave, make sure your cat has access to a safe place that the dog cannot reach.

What to Do If Your Cat and Dog Are Fighting

Physical aggression between two pets can be a disaster for the whole family. Fights can cause serious injuries and even death, especially if there is a significant size difference between them. 

Because the way that many animals deal with fear is through aggression, it could lead to a pattern of violence. They might get stuck thinking that is how they should interact together, and lash out every time the other pet is near. 

If your dog and cat get into a fight it is important to break it up right away. Sometimes a loud noise is enough to do the trick—it will startle the two fighting animals and give the victim a chance to escape. 


The wheelbarrow method is often the easiest way to remove a dog from a fight. With this method, you stand behind your dog (or cat) and pick up their back two legs. Then while they are off balance you walk them backward and into another room or sectioned-off area. This allows the other party to get away. It works best if there is one adult per animal and working in tandem to separate the two. 

Dedicated Veterinary Care for Any Number of Pets

Regardless of whether you have one pet or multiple pets, excellent veterinary care is a must. Along with yearly vaccinations, checkups give your vet the chance to check your pet for signs of health problems and answer any questions you have about their care. East Valley Animal Hospital is the best choice for veterinary care in Gilbert, Arizona. We treat every pet as if they’re part of the family when they’re in our care. Contact us today to make an appointment.





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/1/23). Photo by Andrew S on Unsplash.