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Living in Harmony: How to Help Cats and Pugs Get Along

Living in Harmony: How to Help Cats and Dogs Get Along

“Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria…”

“They fight like cats and dogs.”

We’ve all heard the sayings about cats and dogs. Can they really get along? Are they total opposites? For pug owners, kitties may present some specific concerns (eye injuries, chasing each other, different energy levels, among other issues…). So how can you help cats and pugs get along?

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Help Cats and Pugs Get Along Harmoniously

There are several concerns when it comes to cats and pugs. With a little planning and consideration, you can easily address the issues and have a peaceful, happy household.

Problem #1: My Resident Cat Hates My New Pug

This happens frequently. Cats are often set in their ways, and a new pug, especially if she’s a puppy, may totally freak out your kitty. So, what can you do to ease the transition?

1. Create a Safe Space for Your Cat Away from Your Dog

First, create a safe space for your cat. This likely means, giving your new family member (the pug) very limited run of the house, especially if Kitty owns the whole house currently. Keep your pug in a room with a gate. Work on crate-training them, especially at night. This will give both your pets plenty of alone time, if they want it. Crating isn’t cruel, it’s actually a really positive way to reinforce good pug behavior.

2. Slowly Introduce Your New Dog to Your Cat

One of the biggest mistakes owners make is throwing everyone together and hoping they’ll just sort it out. Introducing a new family member takes time and patience, but it pays off in the long run. Help cats and pugs get along much better by taking it slow. Spend a few weeks, swapping out scented items, like blankets--especially so your kitty can get used to the frito-scent of your pug. Avoid the urge to rush it.

3. Give Your Cat Plenty of Attention

Of course you’re excited about your new pug! It’s perfectly normal to want to lavish attention on your new buddy. But remember your cat was there first. You need to give your cat plenty of attention. Let them know that they’re still your best friend, and they still have plenty of room around the house. If your cat normally sleeps on you or gets priority on your lap, keep it that way. Everything is new and fun for your pug, but for your resident cat, this can be traumatic. Offer plenty of reassurance and one-on-one play, feeding and grooming time.

4. Visit the Vet for Assistance

Cats can react very quietly to stress, but it can take an extreme toll on their health. Check in with your vet before you bring home your new pug. Get a baseline established with bloodwork and a urinalysis. Ask your vet about calming medications, food and other options you can try to help your kitty adapt to the changes in your household.

Once you bring home your pug, watch your kitty closely for changes in their eating, drinking and litter box habits. Often going outside the box can be an indication they have a urinary infection or are experiencing stress. Your vet can help you troubleshoot the situation and help everyone feel better. Never punish any pet for an accident!

5. Make Cat and Dog Introductions a Positive Experience

When you introduce your pug and kitty, make sure your pug is tired. Take her on plenty of walkies, and perhaps even a trip to the dog park, before she spends time with your kitty. Have your pug on a leash, and under your control at all times. Give your cat lots of room to exit the situation if they’d prefer to get away. Offer plenty of tasty treats, calm words and pets to make it a positive experience. Never leave them alone unattended and never force your pets to spend time together.

If either pet shows signs of stress, or if your pug is getting too close for comfort, end the meet and greet. Keep introductions short and sweet so no one feels overwhelmed.

6. Create a Calm Environment for Your Cat

Use a calming plug-in like the Feliway multi-cat, which releases pheromones to help soothe your kitty. You can add a few drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Pets to your water dish as well. This is a homeopathic medication that is safe for animals (but check with your vet first, of course). Some people have also found success with calming treats or CBD/Hemp oil for pets (again, always check with your veterinarian). If your pug is particularly lively, you may want to try a Thundershirt to help calm them, or try one for your cat.

Avoid loud noises, major changes in routine and other disruptions for your cat. Remember, that cats love routine and calm. Now isn’t the time to practice your new drum set, rage to your favorite metal album, or rearrange the furniture. Try to keep your home quiet, calm and “zen” to help your cat chill.

7. Accept the Status Quo: Your Dog and Cat May Never Be Friends

It’s tough to live in a house divided, but honestly, not every cat loves pugs and not every pug loves cats. This doesn’t mean you needed to give up on either pet. Many pets develop a tolerance for each other, even if they don’t become best buddies. The key is to be patient and be sure you’re focusing on the needs and well-being of both your fur-babies.

We currently have three pugs and four cats. One of our cats, Madie, is 18-years-old and wants nothing to do with “pug nonsense.” She happily has full reign of our master bedroom, guestroom and second floor. The pugs hangout downstairs and everyone is just fine. After living with pugs for over six years, she accepts that they’re there, but doesn’t want them to get near her. Everyone is living their best (independent) lives.

Problem #2: My Resident Pug Is Obsessed with My New Kitty

You bring home a new kitten and your resident pug is OBSESSED. The smell, the new food, the delicious “snacks” in the litter box (gross!). Your pug may even chase your new kitty. He thinks this is the best playmate ever but your new cat is traumatized (this often happens if you bring home an older, less-playful cat)! OR it can work in reverse--your new kitten wants to play play play and your senior pug just wants to be left alone. How can you help everyone get along?

Well, first, follow the introduction rules above, for both pets. Treat your resident pet like the special friend they are. Don’t ignore them or spend too much time doting on your new kitten while they sit out of the fun. Offer lots of playtime and plenty of snackies.

Introducing a new kitten to a resident pug is easier than the reverse, but there are a few issues to watch.

1. Cat Poo is (Apparently) Delicious to Pugs

Gross, but true. Many pugs can’t get enough of litter box snacks. BUT not only is this extremely gross, but it can lead to parasites and illness. This means you have to be extremely diligent about scooping, especially if your kitten is just learning the ropes of how to use the potty box. You may wish to try a covered litter box, which can keep pugs away from poo snacks until you can scoop. The best option we’ve discovered is the Litter Robot. While these litter boxes aren’t cheap, they’re self cleaning and worth every penny.

2. Kitten Claws are Sharp and Pug Eyes are Vulnerable

This is one of the most frightening aspects of introducing your pug and kitten. One moment they’re playing together and the next moment, you’re dealing with a corneal scratch. Unfortunately, eye problems are a fact of pug health. Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced dogs) often struggle with dry eye, and the vulnerability of eyes that are always “out there.”

Declawing on the other hand is very cruel, even considered barbaric by some. Cats paws are essentially snipped off at the bone (imagine your fingers being cut off below the first knuckle). This can lead to ongoing health issues for your cat, including arthritis and litter box issues (because it hurts to scratch). Many vets won’t even declaw because they see the practice as outdated.

So what’s the solution? Keep cats claws trimmed up regularly. Weekly take the time to snip the sharp points on your cat’s claws using some simple cat nail clippers. One wonderful solution to the cat claw dilemma is a product called Soft Paws. These little caps fit harmlessly over your cat’s claws, and are glued in place with non-toxic nail adhesive. Cats can still retract their claws and they’re a painless, easy solution (plus they come in fun, cute colors). Start your cat young and they’ll get used to the process of putting on the claw caps.

3. My Pug Thinks My Cat is Fun to Chase

Some dogs naturally LOVE to chase cats (much to the cat’s dismay). Work with your pug on the “leave it” command, and clicker training to help them learn better habits. When you are away from home, you should always offer your cat plenty of spots where they can retreat if they need to get away from your pug. Make sure they can navigate safely to their food and water dish, sleep area, play area, and litter box without braving their way through pug territory.

Baby gates offer a great solution to partition off areas of your home and keep your pug from chasing down the cat. Keep your dog safely in their kennel at night to give everyone a break from the chase. Offer your cat a high cat tree where they can hang out with lots of hiding nooks and play spaces.

If your pug seems to have a lot of energy, especially when it comes to the cat, see if you can find positive ways to help them burn off steam. Take them for walks, introduce them to playmates at the dog park, play dates or doggie daycare. Better yet channel those pug smarts by enrolling in a manners class. Teach your pug basic behaviors and commands. Pugs might be goofballs, but they love to please! They take orders very well, and can be trained as therapy pets to visit the elderly or those with special needs. Give the cat a break and teach your pug some new tricks.

Cats and dogs can certainly live together. There are so many homeless pets in the world looking for a loving spot to call their own. If you have the space to open your home and heart to a rescue animal (whether it’s a pug, a different dog or a kitty), there’s usually a way to make it work out for everyone.

Many local rescues and Humane Societies offer classes and seminars to help you deal with behavior challenges. Don’t give up on your pet. Believe it or not--cats and dogs can learn to get along!

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Daniel Young
Daniel Young
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