Are you thinking about having a cat join your family or have you recently rescued a cat in need? Do you have a dog at home and worried about how to introduce them? Have no fear! We've got your back...
Things to Note:
If you have a very rambunctious dog and the cat is very shy and fearful, it may be hard to introduce the two. This also goes the other way around, if the cat likes to jump all over the place and your dog is very calm, it might be best to find the new cat a home that is more fit to not stress either of the animals out and make them more fearful. You can also always keep them in separate rooms, if you have the time and space to give them both equal attention.
Second thing to note is an older cat who has never been around other animals, especially a younger dog may be harder to acclimate. A young kitten who is used to being around its siblings and mom will probably thrive having another companion, no matter the animal species.
Before the Meeting:
Bring the cat to its new home without the dog present. This gives him or her time to sniff around and pick up the dogs' scent. Then remove the cat and let your dog pick up the scent.
Make sure your dog is obedient so he/she doesn't pounce on the cat unexpectedly, especially if the dog is younger. Reaffirm his behavior by giving him treats and have him obey commands like - sit, down, and come.
Day of the Meeting:
The day of the meeting make sure your dog is calm. Take him on a long walk or to the dog park to release some energy. It's best to have a calm dog when meeting the cat so you are more in control. Next, you want to crate the dog and put the cat up on a table so she can look at him. Give them both treats so they begin to feel more comfortable. This may take multiple attempts and that's okay. A few short meetings are better than a long meeting where both animals get irritated.
Once they are comfortable being in the same room with one animal crated. You can attempt a leashed introduction. Keep the dog on the leash so you can better control his motions and let the cat walk freely. They will get to be more comfortable and that's when you can let the dog off the leash.
If both animals still don't act very comfortable - do not leave them alone. Make sure to continue to have supervised visits and when you leave them alone keep them in separate rooms of the house. Continue to give them treats to reward the good time spent together. Once they become more comfortable, you can start leaving them together alone. Make sure the cat has an escape route just in case she becomes annoyed of the dog. The cat can head off into a different room where the dog can't follow.
You need to be extra careful with small kittens who are much smaller and more at risk to injury. Sometimes it is best to keep monitored visits until the cat is fully grown. Dogs are also known to eat cat food and get into the litter box. Keep those items out of reach, so the cat doesn't feel like its' space is being invaded.
Most often animals can live together in harmony. It just takes a bit of time for them to get comfortable. Don't rush the process and they should be fine. Seek professional help or reevaluate the next steps if one continues to be aggressive and you worry about their safety.
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