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Ask Marc: Multiple Animals

Marc Morrone answers questions about keeping multiple pets in the same space.
Martha Stewart Living Television

How do we keep our cat from bothering our parakeets?
If the cat has any access to the birds, he or she will try to hurt them. The most important thing you can do is to ensure that the cage is hung in a spot where it's inaccessible to your cat and they are unable to jump on it or try and knock it down. Once the cat realizes there's no way to get the birds, it will no longer make an effort.

I've had two cats for about two years and I recently adopted a 6-month old lab. How can I help them get along?
The key is to make the cats know the dog won't be taking over the house. When you aren't home or aren't able to supervise, the dog must stay in a training cage; when the dog is out of the cage, he or she will need to be supervised so as not to chase the cats. Keep the dog on a leash in the house if you have to; if the dog never gets a chance to go after the cats, it won't see a high-speed chase as an option, and the cats will gradually lose any fear of the dog.

How do you introduce your pets to each other so they live as harmoniously as they do? I have a lizard, two rats, two hamsters, fish, a chihuahua and would like to get a rabbit or two.
Although all animals are individuals and can be unpredictable, introducing them to each other in a neutral setting will gradually impart the lesson that their companions pose no real threat.

How do you keep a puppy away from a cat's litter box?
Simply put, you can't keep a puppy away -- a litter box is a treasure chest of odors to a dog. What we do in our house is to put litter boxes in gated rooms; the cats are able to slide through the bars of the gate, but a puppy cannot. We also put litter boxes in closets equipped with sliding doors; the doors are left open just enough to allow a cat to go in and out. The thing to remember is you'll need to manage the problem since you won't be able to modify the dog's behavior.

I would like to get a hamster but I have a small dog. Do you think they'd get along? Would it be wise to get a bunny if I already have a lab-Vizsla mix in the house?
Different animals can live in harmony as long as you know what you're getting into. You'll want to keep the smaller animal in a secure cage so the dog can't get at it. When you eventually let the rabbit or hamster out of the cage, you need to supervise the interaction to be sure the dog won't hurt it. You should never take an animal's life for granted.