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December 24, 2020
When you’re an animal lover, sometimes you might be a self-proclaimed dog-person or cat-person. But, what happens if you want both a feisty feline and a canine companion as part of your happy family? Whether you already have a dog and are planning on getting a new cat, or it’s the other way around, it’s essential to go about it the right way. Make sure you know how to successfully introduce cats and dogs so your furry housemates can all get along well.
Before you begin the introduction process, it’s vital to prepare your home. Set up multiple “escape areas” for your cat. For example, ensure there are ample places high up, like a high window sill, shelves, or tall furniture pieces that your cat can jump on quickly. Your cat will feel safer, and you’ll likely feel less stressed, knowing she has places she can go to where the dog can’t reach her.
It’s also essential that your feline friend has her special dog-free sanctuary that she can slink off to when she needs to get away (you could probably use one of these, too, right?). Ensure that this place has things your cat needs like a food and water bowl, a litter box, a scratching post, and that it is free from any potential hazards. Also, make sure it isn’t a place that your dog can access.
Likewise, make sure your dog also has a place he can retreat to when he wants to be alone. If you worked with your pup on crate training, his kennel is a great place for him to feel secure and safe.
Finally, ensure that you can be home most of the time over the next few weeks so you can monitor your pets’ interactions. If, for some reason, you will be away for extended periods, look into having a trusted friend or other family member keep an eye on things until you return.
Once you have your home prepared properly, the introduction can commence...but slowly.
For the first few days, it’s best to keep your dog and cat separate. This allows them both to get used to the idea of another animal in the home, even if they can’t see each other.
Let your pals get comfortable with each other by feeding them on either side of a closed door. Start with the bowls slightly away from the door, and move them a little closer each day. This helps both animals associate the other with something positive.
After a few days, if your animal buds can stay calm on either side of the door, you can start face-to-face meetings. Conduct these sessions in a common area of the home, not in or near either pet’s safe place. It’s best to keep your dog on a leash, but let your cat come and go as she pleases. Have your dog sit and reward him with treats. You can also give your cat treats to help associate the situation with positive things. Keep the meetings short and sweet, and if things start to get dicey, stay calm, and distract your pup with a treat or a Rolly Cannoli. You can also toss one of your cat’s toys out of the room and then return your pets to their separate areas.
Repeat the face-to-face meetings daily, and watch your dog and cat closely. Ideally, you want to end the session before any hints of aggression or stress.
Once the face-to-face sessions are consistently going well, attempt to let both animals loose together. However, keep the leash on your dog so you can easily step on it or grab it if your dog tries to chase your cat. If things don’t go well, go back to the earlier steps, and repeat the whole process.
Extra Tips for Introducing Cats and Dogs
Whether your dog is the newbie in the home or he’s been with you for a while, make sure you’ve taken the time to teach him basic commands. When you train your dog, you set him up for success, and he’ll be a happier pup too.
Not only will training make animal introductions easier, but it also helps when you take your dog out in public and introduce him to new people too. If you are unable to train your dog, it’s worth hiring a trainer to help.
Ensure that all your pets are current on their vaccinations. You want to keep all your pets healthy and safe.
When you conduct face-to-face meetings, don’t hold either pet. This could potentially send the wrong message, plus if things start to get aggressive, you could end up injured.
Save your pets’ favorite treats for face-to-face meetings, so they’re extra-motivated to behave. Plus, it adds to the positivity of the whole situation.
No matter how well your dog and cat appear to get along, it’s best to keep them separated when you aren’t around to supervise them.
If you already have a dog and get a new cat (or vice versa), try to find a cat that already has experience with dogs.
Consider the age and temperaments of the animals before getting your new pet. Make sure that they will be a good fit. For example, a rambunctious puppy will not likely be a good match for an older cat.
If you’re fortunate, your dog and cat will get along right away, but don’t hold your breath. The process usually takes closer to weeks and even months. Remember, your goal should be for your dog and cat to at least tolerate each other and not try to go at each other every time they’re in the same room. Don’t force your pals to become best friends; you could be waiting for a very long time. Of course, it ultimately all depends on the individual animal’s personality, too.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try and how dedicated you are, some pets just won't get along. When you think about it, this is natural. After all, even humans don't get along with every person they meet.
Although it can take time for your dog and cat to get to know each other, there are some signs that the relationship isn't going to work. In these cases, no matter how hard or long you try, your pets might not be able to live under the same roof.
Here are a few indications that your dog and cat simply aren't a match:
Despite your efforts, your dog continually growls and barks at your cat.
Your dog always tries to pin down your cat, chase your cat, or pick her up.
Your cat scratches, swats, or growls at your dog.
Your cat always runs and hides from your dog.
Of course, if things aren't working out, this doesn't necessarily mean one of your furry friends has to go. However, in many situations, this might be the case. Before you make such a difficult decision, see if any of these solutions might be a possibility.
Is it feasible to keep the animals separated in some way? Perhaps your cat enjoys being outside and will explore outdoors for part of the day? Again, this hinges on your pet’s personality and behavior.
Do you have a family member that you often see who is willing to adopt one of your animals? This way, at least your pet is still part of the extended family.
Talk to your vet about any professional recommendations or suggestions she may have to help the situation. If the situation just stresses your dog or cat, your vet might even suggest a calming supplement or diffuser.
As a last resort, you may need to rehome your new pet. But, if you stay consistent and positive in the process, your dog and cat will likely grow to tolerate each other. In fact, they could even become pals. For more tips on how to care for your furry family members, check out the rest of our blog. At Neater Pets, our goal is to provide you with the information and help you need to be an incredible pet parent!
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