Below we explain how to introduce a new dog or cat to your home, with minimal stress. The process isn’t nearly as ornery as people make it out to be!
Take things slow, and there’s no reason why the newest members of your household won’t get along swimmingly.
Can dogs and cats live together?
The number of households where both dogs and cats are living together is increasing. Research has found that the number of households that own at least one of each of these animals varies. It’s about 7% in the UK, and 43% in Italy, for example.
So i f you’re thinking about introducing a cat to your dog, or introducing a new dog to your cat, you could have a lot of fun with it. In fact, creating a special bond between a cat and a dog can be done with some understanding of their habits, as well as the right environment.
On an optimistic note, recent research has fun that more often than not, dogs and cats living in the same home get along pretty well.
But of course, a cat and a dog are very different from one another, with very different kinds of animal psychology. That means they require different approaches on this front.
Dogs vs cats: traits and temperament
A dog typically has more energy than a cat does. In general, dogs are much more likely to run around and play when they are excited. A cat will typically run and hide when frightened, or will swat and claw when angry.
A typical dog personality is loyal and energetic animals who love to be around people and other pets. They are generally curious and social with strangers and like to get attention. Dogs are also social, and enjoy the company of their own kind and other companions such as cats.
A cat, on the other hand, are more independent, aloof, and playful animals. They tend to keep to themselves except when they want attention. A cat will generally exhibit calm behavior, and typically prefer one-on-one time with their owner and not many people or pets around.
Cats on the other hand are more solitary creatures. They are typically not social with their own species but are social with humans. They enjoy company of their feline friends but do not enjoy that of dogs.
Other than playtime and feeding times, cats and dogs tend to stay away from each other.
How do you introduce dogs and cats to each other?
But what about dogs and cats living together in the same household? Can this coexistence be peaceful and mutually beneficial to both species? How do you introduce a dog to a cat, or vice versa?
When you bring your new animal home, you have to find a way to ensure that the puppy or kitten is accepted into the family.
Below, we will look at the major points to consider when attempting to create a peaceful coexistence among household animals.
When you decide to have both a dog and a cat in your home, the most important thing to keep them separated from each other when you’re not there to monitor them. This will help prevent fights from happening. Dogs of any age can be aggressive towards cats if they feel threatened or jealous of the attention they get.
Take a little bit of time getting the introduction right, because these initial introductions will set the tone for future interactions between these two animals. And if that goes well, the possibilities are endless. Dogs and cats can learn to co-exist in perfect harmony, provided you follow the right steps.
Prep work: getting your cat and dog ready to meet
When introducing a new dog to your home, it is ideal if they are already well socialized with others. That includes people, cats, and other dogs.
In the weeks leading up to the introduction, get your dog ready. Whenever you have guests over, try to keep the dog engaged. Take them on walks with other dogs and visit the groomer together. With your dog on a leash, take them to areas where there are lots of dogs playing together, like the dog park. This will give your dog an opportunity to play while meeting lots of new friends, in a safe and fun environment.
When it comes to your new cat, it is not a good idea to keep it in the same room as your old cat until the new cat has had a chance to learn the lay of the land: where is the food? Where is my litter box? Where is the cat door? Always make sure there is a hiding place in the room for the old cat. If the new cat is an adult cat, then it may need to be confined in a room for a few days along with its food and a litter box before meeting its new companion.
How do I start the cat-dog introduction process?
When bringing new animals into your family, the introduction process is paramount. It’s also very important to your cat and dog’s safety that the introductions go as smoothly as possible
1. Introduce your dog to your cat or kitten slowly. Remember to take things gradually, and proceed step by step without making these introductions a source of stress.
2. Try to make sure that your cat or dog is on board with the idea. This means they should be in a calm state. In other words, don’t subject them to this process when they’re anxious or overly excited.
3. Put the pets in rooms separated by a door or a baby gate. This allows them to hear, smell, and see what’s happening. But don’t allow them to get involved until you’re ready.
4. It’s best if you limit this first meeting to only one or two interactions. Your dog and cat aren’t likely to become best friends right away. But, you can let them sniff each other before the meeting, even through a half-closed door, so they’ll have an idea of what to expect.
5. At first, allow the dog or puppy to smell the cat’s scent on your clothing. And maybe give him a treat. You want your dog to associate good things with the cat, such as treats and nice smells. In other words, not things like being swatted by his new enemy. If your dog has a history of guarding territory or snapping at other animals that were too playful or affectionate, you should seek help from a dog trainer before you introduce the cat.
6. Next, allow them to have some face to face time in a comfortable room. This may be tricky during the introduction phase, but even the most finnecy kitten or puppy may want to see their new animal friend up close and in person before they start to bond with one another.
How do I get my new cat or dog to adjust to each other?
Again, with a new cat or dog, take your time. Don’t try to rush things, and let your new animal friends get to know each other at their own pace.
Introduce pets slowly, and safely, by keeping to a routine, especially when it comes to food, house training, use of a leash, etc. If you are introducing a dog to a shy cat who already lives with you, keep your schedules consistent during the transition period until they become adjusted to each other.
Be sure to keep a reasonable schedule where the cat and dog each have their own special place to eat and rest and play. Practice patience with the dog and cat, as well as with your family and friends as they adjust to this transition.
Give treats and praise whenever the new dog or new cat shows positive signs of adjusting. Simple but tasty treats go a long way; give generous amounts of dog and cat treats, even tiny ones, whenever your old or new pet has done a good job.
Use a leash if possible so that your dog does not chase the cat. But lose the leash when the cat is in a safe place, so that your dog or puppy feels safe, and doesn’t feel locked down even when he’s in his own house.
Keep using those baby gates. Baby gates are a great way of keeping the cat and dog apart, at least at first. This is a less extreme way than closing a door entirely, and new animals like to see each other, which a baby gate allows for.
Let the dog or puppy go back to his own room as soon as the cat is out of sight, and let the cat use those moments to learn about their new house. Generally a dog cannot go for too long without food, so keep in mind that they may be less calm than average if they are staying in a new room without the food source they have come to expect.
In conclusion: give you dog or cat enough time
Sometimes it seems like adding a new dog or cat to our families is the last thing we need. But once we figure out how to have our new dog and cat peacefully cohabitate, we often find it’s much easier than we anticipated.
Introducing a new puppy or kitten to the household can be a great addition to your family. This is particularly true for children who have been begging you for an animal for some time. The key to a smooth transition for everyone is preparation, patience and positive reinforcement.
Have you had your current cat or dog for some time? If so, it may be a good idea to wait until their current behavior has stabilized before introducing another friend.
If you feel that your current pet behavior is erratic and out of control, seek professional help. Training is important, and a pro can help you and your family through this transition smoothly and with as little stress as possible, while ensuring that your new puppy or kitten remains safe in their new house.