How to Get Cats & Dogs Living Together…Happily

by Melissa R. on November 16, 2009

Can Mocca live happily with 3 cats?

Can Mocca live happily with 3 cats?

Here’s how I managed to get three established cats and one dog to live together in peace…No small task!

My boyfriend had three cats. I had one dog. Two of the cats were known Dog Haters. The youngest cat had never even been exposed to dogs before. My Border Collie, Mocca, LOVES cats. Well, what she really loves is watching them and herding them if at all possible. In her past life she was known to spend hours staring at the cat door, waiting. Therefore, when it came time to introduce the cats to the dog, I was a bit worried.

I researched how to introduce the animals to each other, and started slowly. First, I just brought Mocca outside of the house, and let her in only briefly at the front door. This enabled the cats to get an idea that there was some other animal in the vicinity, and smell her on my clothes.

Next, we’d let Mocca in and stay downstairs, where the cats didn’t venture too often. The cats could hear her, and peer down the stairs at her and get used to the idea a little. When we first started this, the two older cats would IMMEDIATELY puff up, and start howling and making a racket – successfully scaring the pants off poor Mocca! After that, Mocca didn’t even WANT to come upstairs. After awhile, I would invite Mocca upstairs carefully, with treats for all. Cats and dog got many, many treats! We continued this for many weeks, luring with treats and much praise. All was going pretty well until…

I stepped on a cat’s tail.

Unfortunately, Mocca came running over to see what was the matter – and the cat decided it had been Mocca who hurt her tail. The other two cats then converged, and they all ganged up on poor Mocca, climbing about her and making a horrible scene. Thankfully, I was able to get everybody separated without injury, except to poor Mocca’s psyche. She would not venture upstairs again after this incident for many months.

So, we continued luring with treats, and tried to just make due with the cats upstairs, and Mocca downstairs, until everybody felt comfortable again.

Six months later – everybody is happily acclimated again and gets along swimmingly! The cats still prefer it if Mocca does not run or bark much, but they will sit at the top of the stairs and not move a muscle when Mocca comes barreling up, barely missing taking out a cat! Just took a bit of time, patience, and lots of treats. Hopefully, not everybody has as much trouble as we did.

Any other cats & dogs stories out there?

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About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet November 16, 2009 at 11:35 am

Mocca looks like a pretty happy dog – glad you got things worked out. I’ve been thinking about adding a cat to our family, so these tips are just what I needed.

Barb November 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I was lucky on two counts, First of all Max, my cat, has no fear of dogs, and in fact will sit on the edge of the couch and swat at them when they walk by – just to show them who’s boss! Also, when I got Rudder last November, I found out he had been brought up with cats, so although he will chase Max, he will also go up to him and lick him all over, which Max tolerates (it amuses me, too!)

Keri K. November 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Sounds familiar! My two cats love people, even strangers. But they both hate, hate, hate dogs! We had a friend with a dog stay with us for a few days, and my 11- and 15-pound cats were absolutely horrified by a 7-pound chihuahua mix. After about three days they were at least willing to accept that the dog meant them no harm. When the friend came to visit us again a few months later I was worried we’d have to start all over again, but they picked up right where they left off, mostly trying to pretend the dog didn’t exist. That was harmonious enough for me!

Pet Forum November 17, 2009 at 8:35 am

Great heads up and information here. When my Lost Cat was found. I had been told, while it was in the sanctuary being looked after she got on really well with some of the homeless dogs there and was playing with them. I think it comes down to the personality of some pets and who they can trust. But i think also in your case in a nice home environment you can teach both cat and dog to get on with each other.

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