Striped, gray cat and dog  sitting on the window

For pet lovers who are aware of the overwhelming number of stray and homeless pets in the country, it is understandable why we are often the ones whose homes are full of fur companions. Multiple pet households are common, in fact, as more than 50% of all cat and dog owners share their homes with more than one pet. With all of the love in the air, you’d think a multi-pet home would be an ideal situation, right?

While it is amazingly compassionate, and also great for pets to have other fur siblings, our enthusiasm is sometimes challenged by a bit of sibling rivalry, dog-and-cat fiascos, or outright fights.

So, what is a multi-pet family to do to keep the peace in a fur-friendly home?

Understanding the Specific Needs of Each Pet

Assuming you’ve already adopted or acquired all of your household pets, you may now face a situation in which certain pets just do not get along. Maybe that small breed lap pal is more interested in your attention while the family Labrador just wants to play play play. And, alas, you find yourself fielding the affections of two very different dog breeds. Or, perhaps you though your fickle felines would be the best playmates, only to realize… well, not so much.

If possible, the first place to begin is through understanding each pet: their breed, age, species, and specific preferences and personalities. If one pet requires more exercise while the other needs more attention, maybe it is time for one family member to take Freckles for a run while you stay back and brush Fluffy. Delegate the chores based on the preferences of the pets and the availability of the family members. Realistically, the answer to pet problems may be to provide separate activities and levels of interaction based on the needs of the individual pets (rather than hoping they will just entertain each other).

For our feline companions, territory is key. If fur is flying, try creating separate sleeping and hiding places for privacy. While cats can warm up to a rambunctious puppy, it’s likely not going to be his first choice to be a wrestling buddy. Understanding each pet, the breed, and age-related behaviors and challenges will help in planning accommodations and activities to prevent discord.

Creating Harmony in a Multi-Pet Home

Once you have a solid understanding of what each pet needs (space, attention, exercise, interaction with people or other animals, etc.), you can better prepare your home for these adjustments. Here are some other practical tips for creating a peaceful multiple pet home.

  • If your dog (or dogs) have never received positive reinforcement and socialization training, we highly recommend it (for their own health and safety, as well as for the safety of others).
  • Pheromone-based sprays, such as Feliway, can help alleviate tensions and anxiety between feuding felines.
  • Crate training is another good option for pets who are having difficulty getting along. For more information on this training method, refer back to our blog, Crate Expectations. And, don’t forget, cats can also benefit from crate training (which is also a perfect solution for their need to hide when stressed).
  • Provide daily exercise for dogs to help diffuse hyperactivity and redirect rambunctiousness in the home.
  • As much as possible, create individual zones for feuding pets, as well as separate feeding stations and sleeping areas.

If your pets continue to fight or if behavioral challenges are creating discord in the home, call us to make an appointment. We can help provide guidance on those behavioral challenges and make recommendations to encourage multi-pet household harmony.