Sure, some of us are strictly dog folks, but some of us enjoy the company of purr-ers, too. And while we all love images of happy kitties and puppies hanging out together, things don’t always start off that smooth.
For those of you whose families are about to grow by one cat or kitty, here are some tips on how to avoid a CAT-astrophe!
How to Introduce a New Cat to Your Dog
In these examples, we’ll call your dog “Ruff” and your cat “Frisky.”
- Take it SLOW. This is more than likely NOT an overnight process. It may take a few days or even a week. But hopefully, with the right preparation, it won’t take too long before your pets can co-exist without the threat of harming one another.
- Before they meet, get your pets ready.
Make sure Ruff is up to speed on his commands. Especially “sit,” “stay,” and “place.” Give Frisky her own room to unwind; keep it stocked with food, water, a litter box and something comfy to sleep on. Feel free to hang out with her, but don’t let Ruff in yet. Let her become adjusted to the surroundings in order to find a place of comfort. Even building that initial familiarity with the smells, sights, sounds and rhythms in that room can help her build some important confidence.
- Door Dining
At mealtime, put Ruff and Frisky’s bowls on either side of the door. This will help them get to know each other’s sounds and smells while associating it with something they already enjoy: eating. If Ruff gets excited and tries to paw or bark his way through that door, give him a “No” and move his bowl away. Gradually bring it towards the door at each meal to normalize his proximity to the new cat.
- Leashed Ruff, Crated Frisky
The best time to do this is when you first get back from a walk. Put Frisky in the crate, keep Ruff on his leash. Bring Ruff into to the room where he can see the crate. Have him “sit” and work through his commands for a few minutes within the presence of Frisky. If he gets too distracted, give him a “no” and take him out of the room. Go through your commands there, then return and work through it again. Repeat this step until both Frisky and Ruff can behave in this situation without tension, aggression or other not-so-friendly behaviors.
- Leashed Ruff, Free Frisky
Repeat the aforementioned session, except with Frisky free to roam. Keep Ruff in control while Frisky makes her rounds and does her kitty thing. The more used to it Ruff becomes, the more you can move towards interaction. Respectful sniffing and nose-nudging is a PURRfect sign of increased readiness.
- Ruff and Frisky Together at Last!
Once Ruff and Frisky have experienced enough of each other eating, moving, playing … to the point that they can be relaxed in each other’s presence, congrats! Depending on breeds and backgrounds, your pets may achieve any level on a wide range of friendship, but with these steps, you’ve certainly helped them avoid that age-old cartoon enemy status.