Doing The Math: 1 Cat + 2 Dogs = Harmony


When it comes to household harmony, animal behaviorist Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, Ph.D., emeritus professor at Cornell, offers these rules of thumb: One cat per household works best.

Beyond that, she says that one cat and a dog or two dogs in a household can live together harmoniously, but you need to provide vertical space for the cat to escape the dogs as needed. Often a kitten gets along happily with dogs, and some cats and dogs do, too. But there are exceptions. Dr. Houpt knows of a dog who didn’t leave the bedroom out of fear of the cat, for example. Far more common, though, are cats living upstairs out of fear of encountering the household dog.

An adult cat living with a new puppy is a potentially bad situation, says Dr. Houpt. She has a puppy and a Lynx Point Ragdoll cat named Hadley Who Behaves Badly, a former client’s cat she couldn’t cure. Hadley is aggressive — you can’t go near one corner of the guest room’s bed because apparently she believes it is her corner. To encourage harmony among her pets and practice good manners between them, one thing Dr. Houpt does is hold salami sessions. As the cat and puppy sit nearby, she gives both small treats of cotto salami.