In this month’s issue, we will discuss a topic that is addressed more often than you will imagine. Owners will frequently question their decision on having more than one pet in their household. This debate will typically be based upon if all the animals can get along with each other well. Many owners will opt to disowning a new dog or cat family member, if their original pet at home is not happy.

In these cases, we strongly advise any pet owners to carefully inform themselves on the steps to creating a happy household. It is more wise to educate and prepare yourself beforehand, so that the trauma an animal experiences when being disowned can be avoided.

We advise that if you plan to have more than one pet in the household, then ideally you should allow the pets to become comfortable with each other by raising them together from day one when they are still very young. However, if you are in the situation of already owning one furry family member, and bringing in another, then please take this article into consideration.

It is very important to take into account the personalities of the two parties involved. Some animals have quiet personalities, whereas others are very unique. Whether we are discussing a dog or a cat, personalities play a large role towards the potential dynamic of their future friendship.

Cats prefer to naturally have a part of the house be their territory to claim. If you are able to give your cat a specific room or living space area to be known as theirs, then you are establishing a sense of boundaries in which your cat can feel comfortable. If your original pet at home is a cat, then instituting this step is even more important. This allows your cat to feel safe in its prime environment. You should also make sure to keep the cat’s litter box, food and water in this safe zone. Normally, cats do not feel comfortable using their washroom if they feel the presence of a dog nearby. This also allows the avoidance of a dog eating the contents in the litterbox. If your dog still does not understand the set boundaries, using a baby gate to divide that area can also be useful. If you wish to keep your cat in a specific room, with a closed door, then we highly recommend placing enrichment items within the room, such as a cat scratcher, tall cat trees, placemats located at high areas (on top of a bookcase, shelf, window panel, etc).

You can also help to prepare your dog individually for the soon encounter of its new sibling. Teaching your dog to control its impulses can be extremely helpful in the situation of meeting another cat or dog for the first few times. Impulse control is also very useful for other general case scenarios as well. Training your dog to stay put even with a treat dangling in front of him will show that he is prepared for a more challenging situation, such as an unfamiliar cat that he is excited to chase. It is wise, to however, keep a leash fastened to your dog during the first few meetings with the new pet. This can be seen as having a ‘Plan B’ in case the impulse control training results to be unsuccessful in the new heightened situation.



Dr. H. Bhullar DVM

Dr. Sifti Bhullar, DVM