golden retriever and british shorthair cat cuddling on kitchen floor

Can Cats and Dogs Get Along With Other Pets?

Dogs, cats, and fish can make great pets. So can guinea pigs, rabbits, and lizards, depending on your taste. But can they really all get along?

Cats and Dogs

On television and in the movies, cats and dogs are usually sworn enemies. They chase, fight, and growl or hiss at each other. But in real life, cats and dogs often dwell in the same home peacefully without cartoonish outbursts.

One study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior shows that many owners with multiple pet households feel their dogs and cats live together amicably. Amicably was defined as sharing a friendly bond and communicating effectively in a non-aggressive way.

The study notes that an amicable relationship is more likely if the cat is exposed to dogs at a younger age. It also helps if the cat is living in the home before the dog enters the picture.

Another study offers similar findings and some interesting insights:

  • The dog is more likely to lick the cat than vice versa.
  • Dogs and cats play with each other and even snooze together on occasion.
  • Although they have different body language, cats and dogs typically understand and interpret each other well.

For instance, if the cat comes up to the dog with their tail up, the dog reacts in a friendly way. If the dog approaches the cat with their tail up, the cat responds aggressively.

Fun Fact

About 38% of households in the United States have a dog, and around 25% have a cat, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Who's the boss?

If you have a cat and dog household, you may have noticed that your cat likes to call the shots. Cats are typically smaller than dogs, so they may want to assert themselves as a form of protection.

This might also have something to do with the way dogs and cats were domesticated. Dogs learned to please people over thousands of years. They realized that we'd feed and care for them if they stayed on our good side.

You could say cats domesticated themselves. Long ago, they started living near humans to enjoy the rodent buffet they found in our grain stores. We let them stay since they were benefiting us by keeping the mice at bay.

To this day, cats have remained famously independent. They generally don't feel the need to ingratiate themselves with us or their dog housemates.

white cat and brown rabbit sitting next to each other outside on a green lawn

What about cats, dogs, and other pets?

Cats and dogs can get along with some other animals. It can help if you're not living in a small apartment so everyone has some space. But it could still work depending on the pairing.

Do cats and rabbits get along?

Cats and rabbits can get along. While cats have been known to hunt rabbits, they're not typically their first choice. Rabbits are usually larger than their preferred prey. Cats like to hunt and catch smaller wildlife, like mice and birds.

Interestingly, these two species are known to be highly social animals. They might not gravitate towards each other at first, but they can become great companions. You may even catch them grooming each other and sleeping together.

It can take months of gradual, careful, and supervised interactions, though. You'll want to make sure they don't frighten or hurt one another. Keep in mind that rabbits are quite territorial, and they may be more of the aggressor than your cat.

Do dogs and rabbits get along?

Dogs and rabbits are a different story than cats and rabbits. They may not get along, especially if the dog has a high prey drive. Dogs bred for herding or hunting, such as Border Collies, Terriers, Beagles, and Retrievers, will naturally want to go after the rabbit.

No matter what your dog's breed, you'll need to supervise your pooch closely when they're near your rabbit. Even if your dog decides they'd rather have the rabbit as a playmate than a meal, they can scare or hurt them accidentally.

Did you know?

You can discover your dog's breed make-up with a dog DNA kit. All it takes is a quick swab of the cheek.

Do cats and guinea pigs get along?

Contrary to the name, guinea pigs are not related to pigs. They're a species of rodent, which makes them natural prey for cats. You may be able to have a guinea pig with a cat in the house, but you'll need to take special care to keep them safe from your frisky feline.

Even a typically friendly and relaxed cat may be tempted to attack your guinea pig. Their sounds, smells, and quick movements can naturally excite any feline. Your cat might not recognize that fast furball scurrying by as a beloved pet.

It may be best to pass on the guinea pig if you already have a cat. If you can't resist bringing one home, make sure their habitat is out of claw's reach. Also, be sure to supervise them when they're out of their cage closely.

Quick Tip

Like people, pets can have a preferred love language, such as touching or kind words. Knowing how your pet likes to be adored can help you train them.

Do dogs and guinea pigs get along?

Dogs may have a smoother time getting along with guinea pigs than cats. It's better if your dog is younger since they tend to be more open to seeing new critters as something other than a threat or a meal. It's also easier if your dog has a lower prey drive. Hunting dogs will instinctively want to attack a guinea pig.

The trick with dogs and guinea pigs is to set the stage right and introduce them gradually. Dogs who have never seen a guinea pig before may get overly excited. They could inadvertently scare or hurt their new little would-be friend.

When you first get your guinea pig, it's best to keep them in a room away from your dog. Let your dog get used to their sounds and smells before an official introduction.

After a few days, you can bring your dog near the cage to have a closer look. Maintain firm control over your pooch, so they don't freak the guinea pig out. If all goes well, you can slowly increase contact under your watchful eye.

If you have dogs and guinea pigs who cohabitate, it's worthwhile vaccinating your pooch for kennel cough, which can be fatal to guinea pigs.

Do cats and fish make good pets?

Cats and fish make great pets on their own—but together, they can be trouble. Fish are just too tempting for our feline friends. It's hard for them to fight the urge to dip their paw into that tank and scoop one out.

That said, you can have both fish and a cat. In fact, a fish tank can provide hours of blissful entertainment for your kitty. But you'll need to make sure the fish are safe. For instance:

  • Buy a sturdy tank that your cat can't knock over.
  • Check that the top of the tank is secure and doesn't have any openings a paw could slip through.
  • Avoid placing the tank on anything that could be tipped over like a small bookshelf.

When you first set up the fish tank, it's smart to keep an eye on your cat when they're nearby. This way, you can ensure things will go along swimmingly.

Fun Fact

You may think your pet is embarrassed if you catch them doing something they know is wrong. But embarrassment is a complex emotion that may not apply to them.

Do dogs and lizards get along?

The answer to this one is sometimes. Not all dogs are great with lizards, especially dogs with high prey drives. Nor are all lizards great with dogs. Some lizards also carry parasites that can be harmful to dogs.

If you want to welcome a lizard into your family, do some research to see which tend to get along well with dogs. For instance, calmer reptiles who like to socialize, such as Bearded Dragons and Savannah Monitors, are typically better options.

Introduce the two gradually with plenty of supervision. You should also keep the lizard's tank out of reach of your dog. Your pooch might put a paw inside to play and end up hurting the lizard or getting hurt by the lizard.

If your dog or cat does get injured by another animal, we can help you cover the costs of care (sorry, we don't cover lizards). Find out what you should know before you buy pet insurance.