Behaviour

10 Tips on How to Introduce a Cat to a Dog

cat and dog getting along

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This is a guest blog post by Ron Wolf from pupjunkies.com

If you are a proud cat or dog parent and you are looking to get one of the other kind of animals to join your family, you may have some trepidation about how the whole process will go. Will they start fighting immediately? Will the dog kill the cat? Is there ever going to be peace in your home?

Actually, you can make the two animals get along just fine, but you have to lay the groundwork for friendship. The first impression is the most important part of the process, and if you can pull off the introduction just right, then you won’t have hardly any problems out of your two animals. Here are 10 tips on how to introduce a cat to a dog.

1. Start by Calming Your Pet

Make sure that the pet in your home is calm and relaxed before you bring in the other pet. You may not be as successful at calming the new pet simply because you don’t know it as well, but you should do everything you can to ensure they are both calm before introducing them. If you can’t get one of them to sit still and be quiet, then you should wait to introduce them until later.

2. Give the Cat a Safe Space

The cat may feel intimidated or scared by your dog, so be sure to create a place where it can escape to if it needs to. You can make your arms available or set up a space that you show to the cat that is high off the ground where the dog cannot reach it.

3. Stay with Them during the Introduction

You don’t want to leave these two pets alone for any length of time at first. You just don’t know how they will react to one another, so stay with them the entire time they are being introduced.

4. Make the Introduction Short

You don’t want them to spend too much time getting to know each other at first. They will be wary of one another and probably tense as well, so keep the introduction very short and take things slowly.

5. Let Them Sleep Apart

One thing you can do to keep them friendly toward each other is to let them sleep in separate rooms or areas. They don’t know each other and don’t feel comfortable with one another yet, so make sure they have their own space to sleep in for the night.

6. Give Your Dog Distractions

A dog can become fixated on a cat very easily, so you may need to have a treat or toy handy for your dog so that he won’t fixate. Let him see the cat, help him to focus on the cat, and then distract home with something else. This will help make things less intense for the cat, since the dog’s attention will be diverted for some of the time.

7. Don’t Punish during Introductions

You want the introduction to be as pleasant as possible, so even if your pets misbehave, try to not use negative reinforcement to get them to behave. If you do, you could end up making them associate the other animal with punishment.

8. Use the Home as the Introduction Place

You want to get the new animal settled into its environment and used to interacting with the other animal in their home environment. So, take the new pet to your home to introduce him or her to the other animal. This will allow them to acclimate to one another better, as at least one of the animals will feel at home there already when the introductions take place. That can greatly reduce the stress of the meeting.

9. Consider a Professional

If you can’t get your cat and dog to be gentle toward each other during the introduction, then you should consult your veterinarian. You want to start off things properly, and it may take professional help to make things go well.  

10. Bring in a Pet That Is Already Accustomed to That Kind of Animal

Your dog may not be used to cats and your cat may not be used to dogs. It can help teach your animal to behave if you bring in a friend’s pet that is already used to the other kind of animals. For instance, if your dog at home has never had a cat in the home, and you are bringing them a cat to introduce the two, then you should think both asking a friend to bring over their dog who is already used to cats. This will help your dog learn how to behave, and hopefully he will model the other dog’s behavior.

These two pets can get along, in most cases. Consider the kind of match you are making and look for signs that the introduction is going well. You can try another approach or another time if things are not going well at first, but if you follow this advice, then you should not have any problem getting them to become friends pretty quickly.

About the author: Ron Wolf is a content editor at pupjunkies.com – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature.