While the stereotype that cats and dogs don’t get along has been suggested by pop culture and media for many years, the truth is that most cats and dogs can learn to live together peacefully. Whether you already have a dog and are considering getting a cat, or vice versa, it is very important to think about their first introduction. A bit of effort on your part in the early days will help both animals live together harmoniously.
Matching Cats and Dogs
If you are thinking of getting a dog to bring home to your cat, or vice versa, it is important to be aware of a few things:
- Get a sense of each animals personality. An energetic dog and a shy cat are not going to be a good mix. You want to make sure both animals have similar levels of energy and will both be willing to be gentle with each other while playing.
- If you know your dog likes to play rough, a kitten or elderly cat are not going to be the best choice. Stick to playful adult cats who can confidently take care of themselves.
- If you have an older cat and want to get a dog, adopting a calm older dog would be best.
Whether you are getting a new dog or a new cat, the introduction process is probably the most important part of introducing your animals to each other. There are a few steps you should follow to ensure a successful meeting.
Choose the Right Location
If you are introducing a new dog to your cat, the introduction should take place at home. Do not take the cat to the shelter.
If you are introducing a new cat to your dog, it is still not a good idea to have the introduction occur at a shelter. This can be a high stress location for animals and you cannot be sure how either animal will react there in relation to how they would behave in your home. If possible, it can be a good idea to introduce your dog to a dog-savvy cat of a friend or family member and get a sense of the reaction. If you cannot do this, making the introduction in your home is a viable option. Just make sure to keep the dog on a leash in case things escalate.
Separate the Animals
It is not necessary or even recommended to jump right into the deep end when introducing a cat and a dog. Instead, build the relationship between them gradually after the initial meeting. Have a secluded space where you can confine one animal and allow each of them time to investigate the rest of the home and get used to the other’s scent.
It is also important to make sure the cat always has a spot they can go where the dog cannot get to. Once the dog is calm in the presence of the cat and the cat can eat and use the litter box without trouble, things are probably looking good and you can move to the next step.
Allow Supervised Interactions
For at least the first month, keep the dog securely leashed when having both animals interact in the same space. You should continue this way until it becomes clear the dog is calm and is not constantly focused on the cat. If any fear or aggression is displayed, you may need to spend more time with the animals separated from each other.
If it seems like no progress is being made, it may be necessary to bring in a professional trainer for your dog. Cats can also be the problem, but generally dogs will be the more interested and aggressive party.