How To Introduce Dogs And Cats
We are all familiar with the term ‘fight like cat and dog’ already. Yet, it is not always a case of life and death when these two pets interact. It is no myth; these two can actually become the best of friends, only with the right handling of the introduction. And that is exactly what we all want: a peaceful, balanced household where all live in harmony.
Learn some know-how and get down to business. Introducing your dog to your cat is not a hassle as long as you do not get impatient and you approach the event as easy and slow as necessary.
• Try to match your cat and dog’s energy levels
• Avoid developing your dog’s chasing instinct so that they do not scare the cat away
The cats are usually more dominant and this will bring about an unhealthy relationship between them. The dog will start hiding away from the cat. Still, they will not be doing well in between each other. To simply let them loose and handle the process on their own is one of the worst scenarios for an introduction.
The ideal scenario would be if you get a puppy and a kitten and introduce them at that very early age as of course, growing up together will create a very good and a stronger bond. But first, lets clarify a few possibilities before getting on with the steps we suggest for a healthy household.
Bringing a kitten in
Kittens are more vulnerable. And they are more energetic and playful. These attributes may attract more of your dog’s attention and, even excite them. This in turn will make the event more stressful for the kitten.
Thus, the best way to introduce them would be by first bringing the kitten into a crate. Allow the kitten to get comfortable in a crate before meeting the dog. Also, think about putting a blanket on top of the crate, where the kitten will feel safer and distanced from the dog in case the dog gets overexcited. The feeling of protection will help the kitten handle the introduction with more ease.
Bringing a puppy in
If you are bringing a puppy to an adult cat, the mission will be somewhat harder to complete. Your puppy’s liveliness will annoy or even stress the cat. You will have to work more in their introduction process.
In this case, get your dog accustomed to a crate if your dog is not already crate trained. Afterwards, use the crate as part of the introduction if you cannot completely manage your dog.
Bringing grown-up animals in
In case you are bringing in two grown up animals to meet, try to get ones that have their energies matched. If you have a laid-back cat or dog, make sure to bring the other one with approximately the same energy level. At best, find new adult dog or cat that are already used to living with each other.
Bringing a cat to a dog pack
These are the hardest cases to manage, as dogs are more prone to chasing and even hurting cats when they are in a pack. In such cases, think twice before deciding to bring the cat in.
Further, we will show you a few steps you may need to undertake in order to achieve a balanced household.
STEP #1: Introduce Each Other’s Scents
As scent smelling is one of the most important factors in their communication, the best idea would be to make the guest animal smell like ‘home’ before the introduction.
You can do this by stroking your older pet with a cloth and then petting the newcomer with the same cloth so that the smell gets into their hair and body. Do the same with the newcomers’ scent, so that the older pet gets a little familiarity. This way they will get to know something of each other beforehand.
STEP #2: Let Them Investigate Each Other’s Living Spaces
Before they meet each other, it is best to let the newcomer investigate the whole house alone when the older pet is not around. This will help in getting the new pet comfortable and calmer in the new environment.
STEP #3: Introduce Them Through A Door Or Baby Gate
Let them see each other and come close without being able to actually touch each other. In case of signs of aggression, go back a few steps. You should be prepared for such happenings and understand the steps you should take further. Either try going back a few steps and give them some more time or seek for the help of a professional.
STEP #4: Keep Your Dog On A Leash
While keeping your dog on a leash you will manage the situation safely while allowing them to get closer to each other. Keep a sharp eye out so that you can avoid any unfortunate injuries on time.
STEP #5: Leave A Safe Spot For Your Cat To Escape
In any case, always leave stairs or suitable spots that your cat can escape through. In any harsh confrontations, your dog will not be able to reach the cat and that will do a lot in keeping them healthy.
• Leave their food bowls and things separately. Also, the cat litter box should be kept at a place where your dog won’t be able to access, as the litter box is very tempting for dogs.
• If you notice signs of aggression you should always consult a professional and seek for their help to develop a healthy relationship. Otherwise, you surely won’t be able to leave them alone at home, if not supervised.
• Also, if both or one of them seems frightened, go back a few steps and start the introduction process again. If you are not able to control the situation or get them at a good place, consult a professional.
• Dogs with high prey drive are the hardest to become friends with cats. So, really do take your time.
• Never hold the pets or bring them close to each other without making sure they are truly ready first. Once they are ready, they will certainly become the best of friends.
• If your dog is overly focused and eying the cat, or makes a sudden lunge as soon as the cat moves, it is not yet the time to let them get close to each other. The same applies if the cat tries to scratch the dog as soon as they come closer.
• Until you feel completely sure they get along, it is wise to keep them in separate areas of the house when you are not around.
• Do not let them take the ‘leader role’ in front of you! You should always maintain the pack leader approach.
• Once your dog and cat seem comfortable in each other’s company, you can let them play and roam around with each other, while you supervise.
After a while of good behaviors and interactions, you got yourself two lovely pets that also love each other!
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