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Cat people love cats and dog people love dogs. But what do you do if you love both? Making a decision between owning a cat or a dog is a hard one but it is often necessary since most cats and dogs don’t get along with each other very well at all. Some people have successfully brought together dogs and cats under the same roof; others have tried this little experiment and failed. It is possible to combine cats in dogs in the same household but the outcome depends on the animals.

Many dogs will live with a cat once they are accustomed to being around it, but there are some dogs that simply won’t have it. More often, the opposite is true; a cat will refuse to play nice with a dog even after repeated exposure to that same dog.

Usually the only way to tell if your pet will tolerate another is to bring the two together carefully. Setting up a meet and greet once is not enough to tell how things will go.

The best way to have the animals meet is to bring the two into the same room together. Both pets should be on a leash to allow the owner to easily restrain the animals in case one or both become angry and hostile toward each other. It is best that the animals meet in a neutral place.

Long time pets are often very territorial and take offense to another animal’s encroachment. For example, if your dog frequently has free reign and guard of the backyard, then bringing a strange animal into that space, his space, could be disastrous. Sometimes it helps to have animals meet outside, where they are used to seeing other animals passing by.

Don’t be discouraged if the first meeting does not go well. Arranging for similar meetings several times over the course of a week or two could help the two animals get used to each other. Once neither animal is afraid of harm from the other, they are likely to relax and approach each other snarl-free. If several meetings go poorly, then it is probably time to accept that, in this situation, dogs and cats cannot be brought together in harmony.

In order to avoid this whole mess to begin with, most puppies and kittens who are raised together grow up loving each other, so if you are determined to own both a dog and a cat at the same time, consider getting them both as babies at the same time. Baby animals raised together often form strong bonds with each other that last into their adulthood. This is often the best way to integrate the household.

If you don’t want to deal with two babies at once, buy a dog and while it’s young socialize it around friend’s and neighbor’s cats. Or, if you start out with a cat, raise it around others’ dogs to increase the likelihood that it won’t mind you bringing home a strange dog someday.