Animals living together
Most humans think different species of animals cannot live together successfully.
Most animals can live together with other species; it is how they are introduced that is the key.
If you are thinking of having hamsters, rabbits, cats, dogs or birds or any two or several living together in the same house, it is important to remember that introductions must be done slowly.
First of you need to remember different animals will take different lengths of time to become friends. There is also the case where they will never be friends and will live with a level of contempt where they will not attack each other, but could give a warning swipe of a paw or peck if the other animal gets too close.
The human must make sure that enough time is taken to give each animal time to see if they will settle down into a friendly/distant sort of living, ensuring no one is stressed out.
Before being adopted by any animal humans should ensure they can provide at least the minimum needs for that animal.
- place to sleep
- place to exercise
- access to food and water
- human interaction
- free from harm, injury or illness (or under the care of a vet)
Consider which animals your human is trying to bring into the home.
What habitat does that animal need?
- cage, aquarium, aviary, perches, high shelving/structures, sofas
Can these items be reached easily by the other species?
What safety control is there when there is no human around to supervise/referee?
Can doors/gates be used to create separation?
Some animals spend all of their life contained, so their needs must be considered first.
For example a fish in an aquarium or hamsters/mice in a cage should be somewhere that the other animal cannot pester them constantly.
The guess who stage:
For the first few early days your human will have their hands full as they have to keep everyone apart. They can use this time to let everyone know/sniff each other.
This is done when the human is cleaning and grooming each animal (apart from fish, fish don’t need to be groomed). The human can let the other animal smell the brushed fur or even a bit of clothing that has been rubbed on the other animal. Your human can make this into a more rewarding experience by giving tasty treats as the fur/clothing is introduced.
The human must take note of any negative reactions, but continue to do this in the early days.
The animals will also hear each other (apart from fish again).
During the early days it is also important that the human splits their time equally between the animals to avoid them being stressed during the separation.
The meeting stage:
There is no time limit on when this is as each animal is different, although a word of warning, if your human skips to this stage too early it will make it even harder to start from the beginning again.
Try to do a carefully separated introduction. Use cages, crates, leads, muzzles, pretty much everything you can think of to make the early introductions as safe as possible, but at the same time ensure everyone is relaxed.
Sometimes humans think bringing in extra humans will help, but it can just add to the tension and make the whole experience descend into chaos.
Also only use the safety equipment if the animal is used to it. For example if a dog is used to a cage but a cat isn’t, then put the dog in the cage for the first brief meeting.
Always make sure that the first meeting is very brief and very positive. Have your human(s) armed with loads and loads of treats and toys to encourage and reward the animals.
Do this every day or even a couple of times a day if things seem to be progressing without incident, but do not do it too much as the animals will get fed up.
The almost there stage:
This is the stage before total harmony or a stalemate has been reached with the animals.
This is the point that when the humans are at home and the animals are allowed to explore together, with certain safety barriers, high shelving, perches are in place to give everyone a place to run to safety.
The living together stage:
This is the stage where everyone seems to be fine and are either interacting successfully or giving each other the stink eye and keeping their distance.
This is the point where the human could probably let the animals roam free even if they are not in the house, although some humans (and animals) are happy to have doors closed between the animals.
Even though this almost utopia of everyone living together, there may always be a time it all goes awry.
Let’s face it all animals and humans have a grumpy day from time to time. So always make sure, even when everyone has a free roam of the house, that there are places/perches/areas of safety that an animal can go to escape.
Oh and another thing, dogs that live with cats. Yes they may even sleep together on the sofa or the not allowed bed, they can still chase that same cat outside as if it is an enemy. Yes that happens,. Why does it happen? No idea it just does. So be careful when leaving patio doors open or both animals are outside.
I hope my mini guide has given some basic advice, but as always, seek professional help and advice if you think you need it.