How to introduce a cat to a dog may be a tricky question. Both dogs and cats have been known to be rivals for years. The leading cause is the dogs’ prey drive, who see cats as their prey. Similarly, cats are born with hunting instincts and are capable of causing harm to small puppies. Yet, cats and dogs have managed to co-exist over the years in many households. Therefore, bringing up cats and dogs as pets in the same family is possible. However, planning about the introduction is essential if you want to introduce a cat to a dog or a dog to a cat. Before letting dog and cat together, a few rules must be kept in mind. Otherwise, you are allowing both animals to fail.
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Introducing Cats and Dogs
If you are thinking about bringing up both cats and dogs together, it is possible when a few things are kept in mind and followed with patience.
- Raise them together as puppies and kittens. Early socialization helps them to bond firmly together.
- Not all cats and dogs will be compatible with each other. For example, a fearful, grown up cat may not get along with a hyperactive, playful dog. Hence, before choosing a new pet, consider the temperament of the current pet to avoid stress between the animals.
- It is always wiser to choose small breed dogs to live with cats because of the size to prevent injuries during play or any fight.
- Always feed your dog and cat separately as they are sensitive toward their food. Also, keep the bed and toys separately as they may get possessive.
- Train your pets to co-exist and share their space without any stress. In the case of dogs, obedience training helps them to maintain self-control.
- Avoid your cat’s interaction with other dogs as the cat may approach other dogs just like her partner at home. You can avoid this risk by keeping the cat indoors.
- The exercise needs of the cat and the dog must be fulfilled as this will drain their energy. This prevents them from destructive behaviors and keeps them relaxed.
Let’s Get Started
While introducing cats and dogs, either the cat or the dog may be the resident animal; a few procedures had to be taken care of to avoid hassles and stress between the animals.
If your cat is new and your dog is the resident animal, follow the basic procedures:
- The cat should have access to a dog-free space in your home. Allot them a separate room with a secure door.
- Keep a litter box, bowl of water, food bowls, toys, and scratching posts.
- The room should have cat-proofed windows and doors.
- Cats love to hide and play. So it is better to provide cat trees, cat caves, cat tunnels, etc., to make them feel at home.
- Make sure your living space has multiple high areas like shelves and furniture. Else, provide them with cat shelves that give them access to elevated areas if they have to escape from the dog.
If your dog is new and your cat is the resident animal, follow the basic procedures:
- Provide your existing cat with a room or space that feels comfortable and safe. Then, install a Feliway Diffuser that emits pheromones that help the cat feel safe.
- It is necessary to crate train your dog, which will keep the cat safe.
- Swap the scents of your pets by swapping their blankets or beds, which will help them get accustomed.
- Better to keep the pets separate for the initial period. You can keep the dog outside on the porch and the cat indoors.
- It would help if you took extra care with high-energy dogs that may suddenly get triggered. Patience and positive reinforcement are essential tools in teaching dog obedience.
- Early socialization and proper dog training help them get along with cats cordially.
- Teach your dog basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” Again, rewards and short sessions will bring the best results.
Tools required in the Introduction of Cats and Dogs
- Litter Box
- Scratch Post
3. Cat Blankets
4. Dog Blankets
5. Dog Crates
6. Dog Gates
7. Dog treats
8. Dog Harness
8. Cat Treats
9. Cat Trees
10. Cat Shelves
12. Dog Bed
13. Dog Puzzles
Steps for Introducing a Cat to a Dog and a Dog to a Cat
There are a few steps and guidelines to be followed while introducing cats and dogs or introducing a cat to a dog and vice versa.
Introduction through smell and scents: Dogs and cats have a high sense of smell which helps them get introduced. Keep both animals physically separated from each other. Provide your cat a separate den or room with a comfortable bed, blanket, food, water, and a litter box. Additionally, tasty treats will lessen the stress level of your cat. Take the dog out for a walk and let the cat access the house, thus getting used to the dog’s scent. Alternatively, the dog can be confined to a crate that allows the cat to roam freely around the house. Get a professional trainer if the dog barks or digs at the separation barrier or the door consistently for more than two days. Once both pets become calm and eat and use the litter box, you can usually move to the next step.
Obedience Training: Obedience training is a must to your dog. Teach him commands like “ sit,” “down,” and “stay.” Treats and praises keep them motivated and make them learn quickly—positive reinforcement and training help distract your dog’s prey drive before the cat.
Separation of Pets: Once your pets become familiar, let them face each other without coming too close. Separate your pets safely and control them, like setting up a baby gate in your cat’s den or room. Make your dog sit with you far away from the entrance. Reward your dog with treats to make them sit quietly when the cat comes inside. If your dog barks or rushes towards the cat, encourage them to come back to you and relax. Alternatively, sit with your cat in the den and let another family member play with your dog. Reward your cat with treats to make them watch the dog without fear. Positive reinforcement helps them to develop positive associations with each other. Repeat sessions and always keep the training session for 5-10 minutes.
Face to Face introduction: Once both animals are comfortable, allow face-to-face introductions. Remove the baby gates but keep the dog leashed or in a harness. Always be near them and reward them with treats to make them behave. Engage them with puzzle toys, treats, and chewies when the cat is out of the den and while it explores. Also, please ensure there are plenty of spaces for the cat to run, which will make them feel confident. Provide your cat with high shelves and cat trees. You can use catnips to induce your cat to come out of the den. Always keep an eye on the dog when it lunges toward the cat and encourage the dog to come back to you and sit in a relaxed position.
Allow interaction with supervision: Remove all barriers when your pets can share the space without stress. Allow them to be together only under custody. Continue obedience training and positive reinforcement for both the pets for calm behavior. Eventually, your dog and cat will settle down and start sharing the same space, which may take several weeks to months.
Mistakes to Avoid While Introducing Cats and Dogs
- Never let your dog chase the cat. The dog may be playful, but the act creates fear and a negative response from the cat. This may create stress in both animals. Train the dog to obey your commands and use positive reinforcement.
- Always keep the food bowls and water in different places. Don’t feed the cat and the dog nearby or in the same home. Both dog and the cat are protective towards their food, and providing them together or keeping their food bowls close may lead to brawls.
- The cat should always access its litter box without going past the dog.
- The introduction and meetings should be short sessions of 5-10 minutes and should not be prolonged. Rewards and treats encourage them to look forward to the training sessions.
- Allow unsupervised interactions when you are confident about the pets sharing the space without any stress.
Introducing cats and dogs may seem to be a daunting task and almost impossible. But it isn’t so when the necessary rules are followed. Anyone can be a proud pet parent living with cats and dogs under one roof. Remember to follow the instructions and get professional help wherever needed. It won’t be long before you have a cute cat story and dog video to share with.