Though everyone has heard the saying “fighting like cats and dogs,” felines and canines don’t have to be enemies. There are plenty of families where the resident moggy and mutt get along famously. The goal is to make your pets realize they’re members of the same happy family. This can be done, but it must be done with care, patience and with the safety of both cat and dog in mind.
1. Be Mindful of Your Pet’s Temperament
There are some pets that are so laid back that they wouldn’t mind if you brought a T. Rex into the house. You may have one of these, but to make sure, it’s best to gingerly introduce a prospective pet to the one who’s already in residence.
The best place to do this is at home. Don’t take Fido to the cat shelter or Muffin to the dog shelter. Both animals will be too het up by the experience, and the cat can be downright traumatized. They can also pick up diseases. Go the shelter yourself and ask the staff if there’s an animal who has experience being around dogs or cats. It may be possible for a member of the staff to arrange a meeting where everything can be kept under control. If not, you’ll have to do it at home.
2. Get Them Used to Each Other’s Scent
You can help get your pets used to each other even before they meet. One neat trick is to have each one sleep in the other’s bedding so they can learn each other’s scent. This is the same as giving them a picture and a resume.
3. A Stair Gate is Just the Thing
Cat Meets Dog
The rules for introducing cats and dogs to each other are fairly similar, but there are small differences. If the resident pet is a feline, all of the things that make her comfortable, such as her toys, scratching post, food and water bowls and litter box need to be put in a separate room, and the room needs to be secured in a way that can keep Princess and Bowser apart but allow them to see and especially smell each other. The best option is that safety gate that’s put at the top of stairs to protect toddlers. Bring Muttley to the gate and let him and Garfield check each other out for a few minutes. It’s fine if they seem fascinated with each other, but if the dog lunges or barks or even stares for a bit too long, take him away for a while. Do the same if the cat growls, hisses or runs for cover.
One tip if you’re moggy is still a kitten is to put her in a dog crate that’s big enough for all her toys, bowls and litter box. Bring the pooch carefully to the crate, and see how they react.
4. Crate the Dog or Keep Him on a Leash
Dog Meets Cat
In this case, you might want to put your dog in his crate. If he’s not crate-trained, train him before you bring the cat home. If your dog is too old to learn new tricks, you’ll need to keep him on a leash when he and the new cat first meet. Ideally, they shouldn’t meet for a few days after the cat arrives, if that’s at all possible. Again, she should have her own space with all her needs easily accessible, including high shelves and cat gyms to jump up on. Allow her to explore the rest of the house while you take him for a walk. Another tip is to caress the cat or dog’s head with a cloth, then rub the cloth over the furniture. This also helps them get used to the idea of each other.
Yes, all of this requires some coordination, but it’s worth it in the end.
Again, bring the dog to the safety gate and let the two of them look at each other. Reward Bowser with a treat and praise when he behaves in a cool and collected manner. The cat doesn’t care if you reward her. If she feels safe and confident around the dog, she’ll let everyone know. If she doesn’t, she’ll let you know that too. Signs of unhappiness are going off her food and not using her litter box even when it’s clean.
5. Try a Houseline for a While
After a few of these meetings with a gate between them, you can allow the dog and cat to interact in the same room. Unless you’re really sure they’re friends, keep the dog on a leash. Some people put the dog on a houseline, a light leash that trails after them and which you can grab or even step on if he starts becoming too rambunctious.
When you introduce your new dog to your old cat or vice versa with patience and care, chances are good that they’ll become pals.