Dogs and Cats are portrayed to be eternal enemies in movies due to the very different behavior and personalities they exhibit. In reality though each breed, and even each individual Maltese dog, will have their own tolerance to other people and animals. In particular, Maltese puppies and Cats can be the best of friends living under the same roof or in the worst situation they will usually tolerate each other. Maltese puppies are generally a good breed to bring into a home with a cat. This can be due to many reasons which will be discussed but it is primarily due to their size and their hunting instincts.
Why are Maltese Puppies Good Companions for Cats?
There are two significant reasons that the Maltese breed works well as a companion to a cat in a household. These include the size of the Maltese puppy relative to the cat and the low hunting instincts which has been bred into the Maltese breed.
- Small in Size: The Maltese breed is known for its small size and is commonly called a toy breed or miniature breed. Even at fully grown a Maltese dog will be about the same size in both height and weight as most cats. Typically you will find that most household cats weigh in between 6 pounds and 10 pounds. A Maltese dog will grow to be around 5 pounds to 8 pounds. Obviously, these sizes are based on averages and each individual cat and Maltese puppy could fall outside these average weights but in general most Maltese and cats will be similar in height and weight. As they are roughly the same size there will be less intimidation by either animal. Also if there is an altercation between the two animals there will be less physical damage inflicted as they are both small and well matched.
- Maltese have a low Hunting Instinct: Maltese have been bred over time to be companions to kings, queens and families. They are a very social dog and they are not prone to chasing objects, hunting other animals or general rough play. While Maltese puppies will be more active they do not have the instinct to attack unless they feel threatened. Dogs which are from larger breeds tended to hunt in the past and this instinct is still built into them and the size difference can mean a nasty combination if there is an altercation between the two animals.
How to Introduce a Maltese Puppy and a Cat
Below are a few points to consider when introducing a Maltese puppy to a cat. Keep these in mind to guide you on the best ways to do the introductions:
- The most important thing to remember when introducing a cat and a Maltese puppy is that both of them are individuals and will have their own personalities and peculiarities. Sometimes they will take exception to each other because they perceive the differences and most notably because one of them will annoy the other one. This can go both ways as a Maltese puppy can bark, jump and smell the cat which can be highly annoying, and the cat could hiss, jump or scratch at the Maltese puppy when first introduced.
- Is the Maltese curious and polite? – Hopefully when you first introduce a Maltese puppy to a cat it will be polite and curious about the cat. It should not be aggressively barking and jumping at the cat. A Maltese dog which is too excitable will make it much harder to allow a friendly introduction. If you have a very excitable Maltese then you will need to take some precautions when doing the introduction such as a tight lead and a firm obedience control over your Maltese. if your dog is not trained, you will need to be ready to end the introductions as soon as too much stress arises in either animal.
- Maintain Control at all times – Your cat is unlikely to be the aggressor in the introduction but you will need to ensure you keep control of your Maltese puppy. This can be done with both voice commands and a tight leash. One thing which can help settle the situation is to use obedience commands to get your dog focused on you and not the cat. Commands like Sit, Stay, rollover will all help to bring your Maltese dog under control and into a calmer state.
- Keep the situation calm – The calmer you can keep the situation the better then initial introduction will be. There are several ways to calm down an excitable Maltese dog such as obedience commands and treats. Another way is to walk your Maltese dog or exercise your Maltese dog for an extended period before the introduction. This will tire out your Maltese and it will have less energy to use at the time of the introduction. This can help calm down an excitable situation and will allow the interaction to be a lot smoother for your cat and your Maltese puppy.
- Remember that cats are also individuals and will have preconceived ideas about dogs. Some cats will hate dogs, others will love them and most of them will be indifferent to the Maltese puppy providing the puppy doesn’t annoy them. Some cats who hate dogs will hiss and spit and raise their backs in an arch. If this occurs you should separate the dog and cat and reintroduce them slowly over time.
- Let them get acclimatized to the smells – Before introducing your cat to your Maltese puppy it is a good idea to get them acquainted with the smells of each other. This will allow them to recognize the smell from a non-threatening situation. The easiest way to do this is to bring a blanket or shirt or rug which the other animal has sat on or sleep in. This allows both animals to get an idea of what the smell is and that it is not threatening. After they have acclimatized to the smell in a calm situation it will be easier to bring the two animals together and they will recognize each others smells. This can really help especially if you can get them calm when they are exploring the scents of the blankets,shirts or rugs.
- Rescue animals need to be treated carefully – If either of your animals (your cat or your Maltese puppy) have been rescued from a shelter they may be more scared and timid than normal. It will be hard to understand their history and what has happened in their life but you need to keep in mind they may have already had a negative experience with other animals. If this is the case it will be harder for that animal to associate with the other animal and will need more time to build trust and be comfortable.
- Keep supervision – For the first few meetings it is important that you keep supervision to ensure that the encounters go smoothly. There is much less chance of any disagreements and fights happening if you are there to keep control of both animals. Over time you will be able to trust the animals to play nicely but this trust needs to be gained. Slowly introducing them in a controlled environment helps to keep the situation calm and will help avoid any vet bills for nasty scratches or bites if an altercation does happen. Remember animals can be unpredictable at times so you just need to keep a close eye on both animals.
- Territorial Issues need to be addressed – Whichever animal was in your family first will feel jealousy when a new animal is introduced. This can give them a more aggressive attitude at the introduction. After the initial introduction it is a good idea to keep the animals separated without making the established pet feel like they are in trouble. You do now want your established pet to have negative emotions associated with the new animal being introduced. At the same time you need your new pet to be able to wander in their new surroundings without feeling threatened and attacked. To do this have a family member sit with your current pet in a gated off area and ensure they are getting treats and toys to play with. This will help as they will have positive emotions of treats associated and it will should help stop any resentment. While this is happening allow your new pet to wander the house and get adjusted to new the new surroundings and smells. During this time show your new pet where the water and food is and also the litter box for a cat. If you do not have someone who can sit with your first pet then ensure they are given lots of treats and toys to play with so they feel like they are being rewarded. Both cats and dogs are territorial and both will usually not be happy to have a new member of the pack without their consultation. Once the new pet has had a good look around the house it is time to swap the pets around and let your first pet look through the house to see what has changed and what new smells the new pet has brought into the house. They will want to smell everything and hopefully they do not mark their territory by weeing in any spots. If they look like they are going to mark their territory ensure you get onto them quickly and ensure they know that it is not acceptable.
- Do not force interactions – Nobody wants to be forced to hang out with someone they do not like. This is going to be the same with animals. You should never force any interaction between them and if they want to be separate for a period of time just let them be. It will usually be your current pet which wants to be left alone as they were alone previously and this will feel normal to them. Forcing the animals together could cause your cat and Maltese dog to get stressed, panicked and will raise the anxiety levels. The best thing to do is to let your cat and Maltese dog come and go as they please, sniff each off and get to know each other in their own time. All you need to ensure is that they are at least amicable to each other so that there is not going to be any fights.
- Realize Cats and Dogs react differently – Cats and Maltese dogs are very different in the way they approach the world. Cats usually like to avoid confrontation and will want to walk off if they find the situation too stressful or scary. Your Maltese puppy will be the opposite and will likely want to explore the cat and chase after it. Make sure that you give your cat the ability to walk off by holding your Maltese puppy on a leash. Some Maltese puppies may act shy with the cat and want to stay right beside or behind you for protection. If your Maltese is scared make sure you take this into consideration and you may need to pick them up if the cat gets too close for investigation. This fear in your Maltese puppy will disappear over time as they become adjusted to the situation.
Owning a Maltese Puppy and a Cat
There are a few ideas and techniques you can implement when owning a Maltese puppy and a cat which will make it easier for both animals to adjust to the situation. These tips include:
- Giving each animal a separate area that is setup for them. Your cat should have a safe place which it can go to that is not reachable by your Maltese. This will usually be up high on a shelf, at the top of a cat tree or a particular room which is off limits to your Maltese puppy. This allows your cat to get its alone time when it needs to where it can feel safe from being pestered by your Maltese dog. Your Maltese puppy should also have a safe zone that is there’s which is not allowed to be taken by the cat. This might be a dog bed in a corner, an air mattress or a a gated off area. Usually the cat will not want to be around the Maltese puppy but if it does try to take any of the areas you need to be firm and teach it that those areas such as the dog bed are off limits for it. Generally it will be the Maltese dog which is full of excitement and pestering the cat but it can happen the other way so make sure you keep an eye on them during the initial first few weeks to ensure that each has a safe zone where they can go nap and rest up without interference from the other animal.
- Food needs to be kept separate. Maltese dog food and cat food is very different as they both have different nutritional needs. Cat food is much higher in protein and fat and this is a beacon for your Maltese to seek it out and consume it as quickly as possible. This is not good for your cat or your Maltese puppy. Your cat will get hungry as it will not be getting its required feeds per day, and the increased fat and protein will upset your Maltese dog’s stomach. One way to ensure that your Maltese does not eat the cat food is by feeding the cat up higher where the Maltese can not get to it. Your Maltese puppy should be fed on the floor so it knows that any food up higher is not for it. Your cat will generally not be enticed by your Maltese dog’s food as they are more fussy and know that they have food they will enjoy elsewhere. While food is separated you should feed them at the same time and in the same room. This will encourage bonding between the animals as they will be around each other more often. Some animals can be very defensive about their food so make sure you ensure that the cat food is up high and the dog food is on the floor. If you do find your cat is taking the dog food then you may need to feed them separately. One of the issues you may find with feeding your cat up higher is they will climb to that spot anytime they are hungry. For this reason make sure you feed them in an area which is not a kitchen bench or someone you would put your food. A good place is on top of they washer or dryer or on a small table which is designated for feeding the cat.
- Catnip is bad for your Maltese. If you have catnip around for your cat then you need to ensure it is in a location that your Maltese puppy can not access it. Catnip is a plant which can make cats happy and stimulate their dopamine levels. The opposite affect happens to Maltese puppies though and they will become sedated and it can dehydrate them. It can also cause diarrhea in your Maltese dog. For these reasons if you feed catnip to your cat via plant, food or in a toy make sure that any left over catnip is not accessible by your Maltese dog.
- Litter box contents can kill Maltese dogs. It is super important that if you have a cat and Maltese dog that the litter box is not accessible to your Maltese dog. Unfortunately the contents of the litter box are attractive to Maltese puppies and they will eat the litter and feces of the cat. Obviously eating this is not a great idea but some of the litters have chemicals in them that cause them to clump as well as scents to mask the smells. The clumping agents in the litter box when ingested can clump in the throat or stomach of the dog and is a life threatening situation. The chemicals for scents are also a significant poisoning risk for your Maltese. If your Maltese does eat from the litter box then ensure you take them to the vet as an emergency. Remember litter boxes and Maltese puppies do not mix and are life threatening and can kill. So what can you do to keep your Maltese puppy safe from your cats litter box? Firstly, keep the litter box out of reach of your Maltese. If you put it up higher on a bench in the laundry obviously not need food for hygienic reasons. Another option is to buy a dog proof litter box and there are a variety of them available on amazon. Some people put it in rooms which are gated off from the dog or build walls around the litter box that the cat can climb over but the Maltese dog is too small to jump over. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the bags of litter box material also out of reach of your Maltese puppy. Maltese puppy will grab, rip and pull at anything they think they may want and accidentally leaving it where they can reach it could be a recipe for disaster. Remember litter box contents can kill a Maltese puppy so be very careful when it comes to litter box placement and your Maltese puppy.
- Sleeping arrangements: Your cat will likely start to choose high up places for sleeping such as the top of there cat tree. They choose these places as they know they will get peace and quiet and an uninterrupted sleep where your Maltese puppy can not annoy them. Your dog should have a designated dog bed where they sleep. Your cat should be discouraged from sleeping in the dog bed as it should be a safe place for your Maltese to go unwind and rest as well.
- Use praise to reinforce your animals being nice to each other. Maltese dogs are very eager to please their owner and if you praise them continuously when they are being calm and nice around the cat then it will slowly build a routine where they will always want to be calm and nice around the cat. Positive reinforcement continues to work long term as eventually the Maltese puppy will associate the praise that you give it with being a nice friend to your cat. Just as you like being told that you have done well in your job, it never hurts to reinforce the attitudes, habits and emotional state of your Maltese puppy when they are doing what you want them to do.
- Keep in mind their ages – Older cats and older Maltese dogs are going to be set in their ways and will be much more likely to want to relax, sleep and enjoy their peace. Introducing a new animal will disrupt their current lifestyle and this can be a big cause of tension. If you have an older animal and a younger animal you will find that they are more likely to get annoyed at each other due to the different energy levels. One way to treat this is to exercise the younger animal relentlessly so they do not have the energy to annoy the older animal. If you do have an older animal it is perhaps best to leave them to their solitude and look at purchasing two animals which are similar in age at a later time. It is always much easier to make a Maltese puppy and a young cat be friends then it is with an older dog or cat and a younger dog or cat.
What to do if your Maltese dog and Cat do not get Along?
While most Maltese puppies and cats will get along and at least be amicable to each other, there can be some bumps along the road and there can be those extreme cases where it does not work out. Lets examine each of these cases and see what we can do:
- Minor Problems: Minor problems include the animals avoiding each other, a lot of barking, too much excitement from the Maltese, hissing from your cat and minor scuffles between the two where they quickly separate. These sorts of problems need to be picked up very quickly and dealt with so that the situation does not escalate into a more serious problem. If the animals are avoiding each other then it will just be a matter of time for them to eventually get use to each other and start to accept that they both live together. Maltese barking a lot should be picked up quickly and some dog training should help sort it out. The barking from your Maltese puppy could also be brought on due to excess energy so exercise may be a quick solution to a barking Maltese puppy. Any aggression between the Maltese or the cat should be shut down quickly so that it does not develop into further confrontation. Eventually the Maltese dog and the cat will get use to each other if they spend enough time together, that is unless there is a major issue.
- Major Problems: Sometimes even though you have great intentions for your cat and Maltese puppy to get along it might just not be possible. Major problems include constant vicious fighting. It is very unlikely for this to happen but it can and if you have tried all the options and tips provided in this article and nothing helps then you will be stuck with only two options. The first is to separate them and have gated areas so that the Maltese can not get to the cat. The cat will generally avoid the Maltese if there is aggression being shown by the dog. You should try a professional dog trainer to try and alter the aggressive behavior. If the cat is the aggressor then you may need to keep them separated when you are not able to watch them, you may find as the Maltese puppy grows the cat becomes less aggressive as the Maltese will be able to handle itself better as it will be a larger size. If you are unable to keep them separate or this is not what you desire then unfortunately and painfully the only option is to re-home one of the animals to a friend, or through a shelter. This will be a very painful experience to go through and should be the last resort when the fighting is dangerous to one or both animals and it obvious that they will never put up with each other. This is a traumatic experience for all involved including the re-homed animal so only choose the option after you have tried all other options such as training, separate areas and the other tips in this article.
What to do if your Cat and Maltese Dog Fight?
If you know or believe that the two animals might get into a physical fight that its a good idea to take the proper precautions. This includes keeping a leash on the Maltese puppy, cutting nails so they are shorter and less likely to cause scratches, muzzle the Maltese puppy and using a spray to keep the animals apart. Lets look at each of these options separately:
- Leash the Maltese dog: Obviously it is more likely that the Maltese will attack the cat as cats will generally leave a situation they are not comfortable in whereas the Maltese will be full of excitement and probably just be too much for the cat. If you can keep your Maltese on a leash when they are around each other for the first few times you will be able to ensure that the cat can keep its distance if it wants to.
- Cat nails: The nails on a cat can cause serious injury when they decide to scratch. You can either keep the nails trimmed to an acceptable level or better yet invest in some nail caps for your cat. These nail caps (which are available on amazon) are very easy to put on your cat and will help to stop any nasty scratches from occurring in an altercation between the Maltese dog and the cat.
- Muzzle the Maltese Puppy: If your Maltese is aggressive then using a muzzle will stop any small bites from happening. The Maltese puppy is small but the bites can still do some minor damage so a small muzzle should be used if you think your Maltese puppy might be aggressive. This is a serious precaution and usually you will not need to use it but it is an option in extreme cases.
- Spray bottle: Both dogs and cats hate getting sprayed especially by anything acidic . There are all natural orange sprays which can be used. The smell will distract the cat as they hate citrus and they will want to leave the area rather than be subjected to another hit of the spray bottle. Try not to spray it directly in their faces as it can get in their eyes and sting. Instead follow the directions for the spray which will usually to be to spray it above their heads. Even water in a spray bottle can act as a good deterrent for both animals but if you use just water you can then use the spray in their faces as a distraction as it will not have any chemicals that are harmful to them.
Did this article answer all your questions ?
Hopefully bringing a cat and Maltese dog together works out well for you, and if you follow the tips in this article it is likely to be a lot safer introduction and a much smoother transition for both the Maltese dog and the cat. Do you have any other tips which we may have missed? Have you had success implementing this tips at your house? Let us know in the comments what you think so that we can improve the article for all of our readers.