If you’ve decided to add a cat to your home, you may be worried about how to introduce your dog to the cat. Making the feline-canine introduction can be a delicate process, but with the right steps and patience, you can pull it off. Here are a few things to be aware when you introduce your animals to one another.
Note: These instructions refer to you bringing a cat into your home to live with the resident dog. You may decide to bring your dog to a shelter to meet a potential feline adoptee, and the shelter staff can advise you on how to best do those introductions based on their current procedures.
This is a very delicate relationship that you can’t rush, and it will take time. You’ll need to expect there may be some hostility or anxiety between the animals, and things won’t click right together. You’ll need to start off by keeping the animal seperate, and then go from there. The cat and dog need to be in a good and calming place. It’s best to do the introduction at your house, in a room where the dog feels comfortable. You should also make sure that your cat has a place where the dog can not attack, confront or chase it, such as a penned area, or a special closed-off room. The cat is new to these surroundings and understandably needs a place that’s “hers,” at least for a little while.
Before introducing your dog and cat to each other, you should make sure that your dog has been fed and has been exercised, so as to make him less likely to be wiry and energetic, which may startle the cat. Animals can have a communication misunderstanding, and your dog may read your cat’s reaction as an invitation to play. Animals do best by getting to each other through smell and this is especially true of dogs. Let your dog smell where the cat is, perhaps while the cat is on the other side of the door; this interaction will let the dog get used to the cat’s presence as far as smell. You can let the cat do the same, letting her smell the areas the dog has been so she can get used to the smell and idea of the dog.
Once you have both animals accustomed to each other by this sense, you should leash your dog and begin the first one-on-one interaction. Your dog may get excited, bark at the dog, and your cat may respond with a hiss or swipe in return. Don’t get discouraged, as this process, is again, slow. Your cat should be able to roam the room whle you hold the dog on the leash, and be sure you praise your dog for behaving; a few treats won’t hurt either. Don’t let your dog approach the cat without you, and be cautious about rushing the process. You can continue this process, gradually decreasing the distance between your dog and your cat. Eventually you’ll be ready for off-leash time with the cat, and your dog and cat should be well-acquainted by this point. From there, you can hopefully have your animals living in harmony..most of the time.