You have likely heard of the term “fighting like cats and dogs.” This phrase implies that cats and dogs cannot get along with each other.
Despite the stereotypes, many homes have cats and dogs that live together peacefully. Whether or not animals of different species develop a friendship has a lot to do with their individual personalities.
Here are some tips to follow when introducing a new cat to your family dog.
The cat needs to have a space where it can get away from the family dog at all times. The area can be of any size. Just make sure that the doors and ceiling are secure.
The space should have a modern cat litter box, toys, food, water, and a scratching post. Make sure the area is cat-friendly by getting rid of any medicines, poisonous plants, or fragile knickknacks that could be knocked over by a nervous cat.
For the first couple of weeks or up to a couple of months, you may need to be the mediator between your pet’s interactions. You may want to create some hiding places, such as tunnels, where your cat can feel safe.
For the first week, keep the pets separate from each other. Prevent your new cat from having too much contact with your dog until it has had its vets checkups and has been cleared of sickness.
You may need to keep your cat in its sanctuary room with the door closed. If possible, find an area that is on a separate floor of your home. The idea is to let your pets get accustomed to each other being in the same house without there needing to be face-to-face contact.
Remember, your pets have a heightened sense of smell and a heightened sense of hearing. This means that even if they are in different rooms, they can hear each other and smell each other. Little by little, they will grow more custom to each other’s presence.
With time, you can start to get your family dog accustomed to having the cat around. One way to do this is to feed your pets on opposite sides of the same door. Little by little, you can move your pet’s feeding bowls closer to the closed door.
Continue to follow this process until your pets can eat calmly, sitting right next to the closed door. If you use food in this way, you will start to associate the presence of the other pet with something pleasurable.
After your pets can eat calmly next to the door, allow controlled meet and greets in common areas of the house. Don’t put your dog in your cat’s sanctuary area, and don’t take your cat to a place that your dog has marked as its own.
These initial sessions should be short, calm, and controlled. Your dog should be on a leash, but your cat should be free to come and go as it pleases. Resist the urge to restrain your pets in your arms.
They may accidentally injure you if they react aggressively to each other.
With the cat in the room, command your dog to sit. If your dog obeys the command, give him the treat to reward the calm behavior. Your cat should also get a treat if it acts in a quiet manner around your dog.
If you notice that your cat or dog becomes possessive or starts to show aggression, distract them with something to redirect their attention. Take the pets to their confinement areas and then repeat the process in a few hours.
After a few weeks of seeing that your animals are getting along well together, let them loose together in the room. Keep your dog attached to a leash, but let the leash drag on the floor. This way, if your dog does lunge at the cat, you can step on the leash and easily control the dog.
Once dogs and cats become friends, it can be a lot of fun to watch them play with each other. The introduction process is time-consuming, but the results are worth it.