Wonder how your dog will react if you bring a new cat to your house to join the family? With a bit of preparation and lots of patience, there’s a good chance that your pets will live together in harmony, or let’s hope, something close to it.
Separate is best at first -
When you introduce a new pet too fast, the excitement can be too much for everyone to handle. Curiosity, confusion, aggression. and confused and maybe even aggressive. The last thing you want is a new pet that is scared of the new place. It is recommended that the introductions occur gradually over a period of a few days.
Set up a separate retreat for the new cat. Allow them to become familiar with their surroundings without too many distractions, including the dog. Be sure to include all the things they will need such as food, water, toys and a comfy place to sleep. Over the next few days, there are a few things you can do to begin the introduction process.
Food Friends and Space Swap -
Much like a human first date might go, initial conversations might go better over a nice dish of food. Continuing to separate the cat and dog, feed them on opposite sides of a closed door. While each pet is eating, they will hear and smell the other pet. Bonus points for the positive food smells too. Also, letting each animal smell favorite objects of the other pet allows for further familiarization. Give the new cat time to explore in a common area while the dog swaps to the area the cat has been hanging out in.
Friendly Face Off -
Once the pets have investigated each other from the safety of the closed door for a few days, it’s time to meet face to face. Find a neutral place in your house and consider leashing the dog and letting the cat roam around it. Stay calm and see how it goes. Use behavioral commands like “sit” and “stay” to keep your dog in control. If either animal gets aggressive or frightened, go ahead and separate them again for a bit. Work up to longer periods of time in this phase, with the next step being allowing both animals to freely explore each other.
Free Range Friends -
Once they have had a few successful face to face meetings, it’s time to let them be in the same room with each other and reallyfast check each other out. It is important to stay close and supervise their behavior for a few weeks until you are comfortable that they get along.
Side Eye and Jealousy -
If your introduction plan doesn’t go as well as you’d like, please seek the help of a trained professional or ask your veterinarian for advice. A young kitten or even an adult cat could be injured by a curious dog. If they aren’t calmly interacting or playing gently enough, go back to shorter together times. It is understandable that you would want them to be instant friends, but patience is probably your best friend.