Introducing a cat and a dog can be challenging, particularly when one has already claimed the home as their territory. Much of the conflict stems from the fact that cats and dogs have different ways of communicating through body language, and what is friendly to one can be interpreted as a threat by the other. This guide includes several steps to take before bringing a dog into a home where a cat is already in residence.
It is essential to remember that if introductions do not go well, you should contact an animal behaviorist or vet for advice. Punishing the animals will not help and will only reinforce the idea that the other animal is a negative presence in the house.
Preparing the pets
- Make sure your cat has a safe area which the dog cannot get into. You can do this by installing a baby gate across a doorway or at the bottom of the stairs. Ideally, the cat should also have a safe space in each room, such as cat shelves, so it can escape the dog’s reach.
- The cat’s litter box should also be out of the dog’s reach, in a quiet place. This ensures the cat has a safe place to go relieve themselves, and the dog will not eat the cat little or feces.
- You should also keep the cat food and water away from the dog (and vice versa) so the cat can eat and drink in peace. This is also important as neither should be eating food, which is not meant for them for health reasons. Click here for more information.
- Try swapping their bedding so that they become used to the scent of the other animal.
Introducing the pets
- Before the introduction, make sure both animals are in good health and generally relaxed. Making sure both have been fed and that the dog has been recently exercised will help. If you are worried about your dog’s anxiety, you might want to try some organic CBD dog treats from CeeBeeDoo.
- Shut the cat in a safe area of the house and give the dog the chance to explore. The dog will smell the cat in the home. Next, take the dog out for a walk and let the cat explore and smell where the dog has been.
- Keep the dog on the leash so that you can keep a close eye on their movements, and if they try to chase the cat, you can correct the behavior.
- If you have a confident cat, let them walk into the room where you and the dog are. If the cat is nervous, you might want to put them in a cat carrier and let the dog sniff the carrier. However, it is not unusual for the cat to hiss and run away from the dog, so do not worry if this happens.
- Remain calm and speak in soothing tones to both animals during the meeting. You can also give both animals a treat if they are calm in each other’s presence, as this builds positive associations.
- Do not let the dog come close to the cat yet as it is likely to frighten the cat. If the dog attempts to chase the cat, pull back on the leash and tell them to ‘sit’ or ‘stay’. If the dog is overexcited, separate them, and try again at another time.
- These short introductions should be repeated regularly until both the cat and dog are relaxed, and you can allow the dog more leash.
Monitoring their behavior
- You mustn’t leave the animals in each other’s company unsupervised until you are confident that they are used to being around each other. Ideally, they should be able to comfortably eat in each other’s presence.
- When you are ready to let the dog off the leash, you should be prepared to take back control with a second’s notice.
- Sometimes a cat may swipe at a dog as a warning, but the injury is rarely serious, and it can serve as a good lesson for an overexcited dog. If your cat scratches the dog’s eye, however, it may need veterinary attention.
- If the cat or dog are being too aggressive, leash the dog again and go back to shorter meetings.