Cats And Dogs; How To Introduce A Cat And Dog
Cats and Dogs, the consensus is that they are sworn enemies, arch nemeses, not to be friends, but this is simply not the case. A flurry of hilarious YouTube clips can attest to the potential lasting (and adorable) friendships between cats and dogs. However, before you can get to this stage, you will need to introduce your animals carefully and correctly in order to set them up for a harmonious life with one another.
Whether they will be lasting pals or simply co-exist, the choice is theirs. It's important to have realistic expectations when introducing a new pet to a resident pet. It is also important to first consider if it would be safe and appropriate to have both a dog and cat as part of your family.
We share our top tips for the best ways to introduce Cats and Dogs to ensure a happy household.
Secure a Space
When bringing home a new puppy, or dog to join the family with an existing cat or vice versa, preparation is key. It can be beneficial to have elevated places around the house where the cat can quickly retreat for security and sanctuary should an interaction with a dog become stressful. It is also ideal that the cat’s food, water and litter is out of reach or in a separate space where the dog cannot access. Dogs tend to eat cat food and cat faeces.
Smell for Smell
Place your cat in a room with food, water and litter and allow the dog to smell and adjust to the new scent. Place the dog outside or in a secure place and allow your cat to roam the house, familiarising itself with the scent of the dog. This can be done for several days.
Promoting calm behaviour for you dog is crucial for a multitude of situations, especially when it comes to meet and greets with the family cat. With your dog on a loose lead and being controlled on a mat, allow them to be in the same room as one another. Your cat may feel inquisitive and wish to approach the dog but if this does not occur, do not force it. If your dog continues to showcase calm behaviour when in close proximity to your cat, ensure you praise and give positive reinforcement accordingly.
Note: a tight lead can put tension on the dog’s neck building frustration. If you dog is fixated and pulling against the lead, go back a step and build up to introductions when the dog has been desensitised.
All interaction should be supervised. While you get to learn how your dog reacts to the cat, it is important that all contact is supervised by an adult and if possible, in a calm and controlled environment. With cats being quick and agile, they can be fun to chase especially for a dog with higher prey drive. Kittens are very small and thus more prone to injury than an adult cat. Even if a dog is playing, injuries can be sustained so rough play should be discouraged.
Patience is key with a cat and dog relationship. With most cats being independent and content with being the only animal in the house the new addition may take some adjustment for your family cat. With close supervision, allow their bond to develop in their own time. With time, your animals will feel more secure and safe and thus begin to co-habitate successfully. Failure to allow them the time they need can result in negative behaviour or injury. Forcing the situation may make your cat feel threatened often resulting in a nasty swipe across the chops which will only prolong the fear and uncertainty and can put your dog at risk of losing an eye. Respect their process.
Note: When bringing home an adult dog, existing issues with cats may be prevalent. When adopting a dog, your local organisation may advise against a specific dog living with a cat. This should be noted and understood for the safety of your existing pet.