Dear Porky and Buddy,
I have a wonderful black lab named Barney, about nine months old, and I think he needs a friend. I work during the day and play with him a lot in the morning and when I get home, but he is alone during the day. The problem is that my landlord will only allow one dog, so I am thinking maybe I should get him a cat to play with. Do you think that’s a good idea?
By play with, we are going to assume that you mean “as a companion,” as opposed to “as a toy.”
It’s an important distinction.
Yes, cats and dogs can live happily with each other and even become good friends, but they can also become sworn enemies, so it is important that you make this decision carefully and implement it well.
Here are the issues to consider.
Has Barney been around cats already?
How did he get along with them?
If he was used to cats when he was younger, that is a good start.
How well trained is he?
Does he always come when you call and does he always obey when you say, “Leave it,” or “Drop it?”
Is he inclined to chase after small furry things like squirrels?
Will he stop when you tell him to?
If he suddenly thinks that his new “friend” is actually his “toy” you need to be able to stop him?
If you are not confident about this, we suggest doggie daycare instead.
A big untrained dog can injure or kill a cat in an instant.
And a cat will fight back and possibly injure him.
But let’s assume that Barney is basically a good well-trained dog.
Have you looked at potential cats to adopt?
Are you thinking about a kitten? Kittens sometimes adjust more easily to something as strange as a dog and they are very playful.
Have you found a mellow older cat that is accustomed to dogs? Another good choice.
Whatever you decide about introducing a cat or kitten to your household, do you have a safe place or places for the newcomer when you are away?
Do you have time to spend carefully introducing them to each other so that they can become friends?
If you adopt from the Oswego County Humane Society, they will give you an instruction sheet about introducing your new cat to Barney.
Plus, there are many good online resources with detailed instructions about how to do it, too many to go into here.
Check out the ASPCA for starters.
It’s up to you to protect both Barney and your new cat and set up introductions carefully so that they both feel safe and have pleasant experiences getting acquainted.
And it may take time, no you should not adopt a new kitten and plop her down in the living room in front of Barney to see what happens!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office will soon relocate to 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!