The popular notion that cats and dogs don’t get along is partially true. They may not become best friends the first time they meet, but once they get to know each other and get used to each other’s presence, a friendship between a dog and a cat can be a beautiful one.
If you can’t choose between being a cat or a dog person, why not be both? There are no rules against it! But, if you already own a cat and you have decided to get a dog, you need to make sure that the introduction goes well. This can be challenging, but it’s far from being impossible, so here are the tips on how to introduce a new dog to a resident cat.
Some things to take into consideration
- The age of your pets: There are pairs that work better than others. For example, if you already own an adult cat, you probably don’t want to get a puppy, as cats might find them irritating. On the other hand, kittens and puppies are a good combination, and can adjust to each other better.
- Don’t get more than one dog: Dogs tend to behave more aggressively when they are around other dogs, and predatory behavior might come to the light. The introduction between one dog and one cat is already a challenge, so you can imagine what it would be like if you get more dogs.
- Know your dog’s history with cats: It’s always a good idea to learn as much about the backstory of your new dog as possible before you make them part of your home, especially if they’re going to coexist with a cat. It’s important that you know about any aggressive behavior and encounters with cats, this way you can debate on whether or not it will be a good fit.
- Consider your cat’s physical condition: In a situation where your cat is in disadvantage, for example if it’s very little or if it has some sort of physical impediment, then you might want to be extra careful with the interaction between the two.
Before the introduction
Prepare your dog
- Train your dog: It will be best if your dog answers to your calling and listens to your commands, this way you can easily control the situation in case things get out of hand, or just to prevent that from happening. Some pet ponds allow you to have a trial run with a new pet, this would be a good time to test things out.
- Buy a leash: You will have to put a leash on your dog during the first few interactions with the new cat. Get one that fits your dog comfortably, without it being too loose or too tight.
- Relax your dog right before the introduction: Having your dog in a relaxed state will lower the chances of them getting aggressive with the cat. For this, you can exercise your dog and give them to eat.
- Get them used to each other’s smell: This one involves both the dog and the cat. Making your pets get used to each other’s smell before introducing the two is a good way for them to get comfortable to the presence of the other.
Prepare your cat
- Create a safe space: Before your cat meets the new dog, a safe space to escape needs to be created. You have to place all of your cat’s belongings there, and block the entrance so the dog can’t get in.
- Prepare your cat for change: Make little changes to the home, like moving around your cat’s things, and introducing the new dog’s belongings, so that your cat gets a little more comfortable to the change instead of making it a big and unexpected impact.
- Trim its nails: In case your cat decides to take a strike on the new dog, you can trim its nails a little to avoid any damage to your new pet (or yourself)
During the introduction
- Keep your dog on a leash: For the introduction, your dog must obligatorily use a leash. As they get to know each other, you can ditch the leash in future encounters.
- Make sure your cat is in a safe space: The introduction can be done through a baby door, or you can even keep your cat inside a cat cage with enough space if you are sure they feel comfortable inside it.
- Gentle discipline: Applying gentle and non-violent discipline is advised, and even giving nice rewards to both of them when they behave accordingly.
- Only leave them alone when you think they are completely safe: When you feel completely sure that they can get along just fine, that’s the only time they can start interacting alone.
- Don’t force interaction: Whatever you do, don’t force them to be together, as that can only make the situation a lot more difficult. Act as a mediator and supervisor only.
In case it doesn’t work out
Ultimately, you have to be prepared for the chance of it not working out. Trust your gut, if you have even the smallest perception that they don’t get along, and that your dog can act violently towards your cat (or vice versa), it’s best that they don’t interact too much without you being present.