There are many dog owners who decide to introduce a cat into their household, and vice versa, and are able to do so successfully. True, cats and dogs are two different species, and it takes patience to teach them to live together peacefully, and to maintain that peace. If you do make the decision to bring home a new pet, here is some advice to help you through the early stages of introduction, and to help you teach your dog and cat to coexist happily.
A Few Things to Consider
Adding a new pet cat or dog to your household is certainly not a decision you should take lightly; there are many factors that will affect how smoothly the process goes. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to get along with cats; by doing some research and consulting with your vet you can get an idea of how your dog might react to a cat. If you are adopting a grown pet, be sure to find out as much information about its behavior and temperament, especially if it has lived with other pets before. Even if you already have a cat and dog in your household, remember that your pets will react differently each time you add a new animal to your family.
Finally, age is important to take into account. The younger animals are, the easier it is for them to learn habits, like getting along with other pets. At the same time, if you introduce a very young animal into a home where an older one lives, be aware of their differences in lifestyle. Younger animals tend to be much more playful and energetic, so you may have to be extra careful that the older animal is not overwhelmed or threatened by this.
Introducing Your Dog and Cat
Introductions are important, and when it comes to your dog and cat, properly introducing them helps set the tone for how they will interact with each other. During the first few days of introduction, whether your cat is the newcomer or already lives in your house, you should give him his own separate space, so that he can grow accustomed to the sounds and smell of your dog. After a few days, when your cat has become used to living in the same house as your dog, you can try introducing him to your dog.
At first, you should restrain your dog when he is around your cat. You may also keep your cat in a carrier at first, allowing your dog to get used to the sight and smell of the cat. As they become used to each other, bring the cat out of the carrier, but be sure that you can restrain either animal if necessary, and let your cat approach your dog first. Every time they are near each other, reward them for calm, friendly behavior. If they learn to associate praise and treats with getting along, it will encourage them to behave well! Continue to keep your pets separate from each other for the majority of the time, gradually building up the amount of time they spend together. Never leave them together unsupervised at this stage.
Moving Past the Introduction
When your cat and dog seem comfortable around each other, and neither seems interested in chasing the other, you can try removing any restraints and allowing them to interact. Remember, keep very close supervision and pay attention to any sudden changes in mood or body language. Cats and dogs play very differently, and it’s easy for one to feel threatened by what the other sees as a harmless swipe; this is especially true when there is a large age gap between them. Give them time to grow used to interacting without restraint, and separate them right away if a hostile situation arises. Remember, this is a process that requires patience.
Even once your cat and dog seem like the best of friends, both still need their own space in your house. Provide your cat with small spaces on high perches out of the dog’s reach so he can relax away from your dog. Likewise, don’t allow your cat to go into your dogs resting space. Keep their food separate, too. You should also keep your dog away from your cat’s litter box; this can be accomplished by putting the litter box in a high place such as a counter or table.