How To Introduce Your Cat to a New Dog

They may become forever friends.

It’s a commonly held belief that cats and dogs are mortal enemies. Of course, in some scenarios it’s true, but we’ve seen plenty of cases of felines co-habitating with canines in a pleasant manner. With time and patience, your cat and new dog will be getting along just fine—and may even become close buddies!

First, understand that it’s probably not going to happen overnight. Cats are territorial, protective of their owners, and don’t love change, so it’s no wonder they don’t take too kindly to a dog coming into the household. Make sure to give your kitty plenty of space, and even set up some areas of the house that are off-limits to the dog, at least at first.

It’s not a good idea to introduce your dog and cat in a room without an escape route for your cat. Cats and kittens need an escape route and place to hide, at all times.

If possible, introduce your pets to each other’s scent before their first meeting by allowing them to sniff a bed or blanket the other has been using. Animals rely on scent to understand the world around them, so it’s a little less intimidating if they’re familiar with the scent of their new friend ahead of time.

Have your dog on a leash for the meeting with your cat. Even the tamest pooch can be overcome by a “predator-prey” instinct when meeting a cat for the first time, and you want to ensure nobody gets hurt. Let the cat set the tone for the first meeting. If she’s curious and wants to investigate, allow her to approach the dog. If she checks him out and quickly retreats, don’t force face-to-face contact.

It’s a great idea to slip a few treats to both your dog and cat during their first several encounters, so they learn to associate one another’s presence with positive feelings rather than fear. If your dog is going nuts at the sight of kitty, distract him with an irresistible treat until he focuses on you and calms down.

It’s important to make it clear from the start that kitty’s food and litter box are completely off-limits to the dog. If he approaches these areas, scold him with a stern “no” and divert his attention to something positive. If possible, consider placing the cat’s food and litter box on an elevated surface or enclosed space the dog can’t easily access.

Generally speaking, the younger both of your pets are, the quicker the transition period will be. Older cats may take several months to feel comfortable around the dog, and may still prefer to keep their distance even after some time. The key is repetition and consistency. Give it some time, and your two pets will soon come to see each other as members of the family—maybe even best friends.

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  1. Good information, but you left out something VERY important. The dog should be kept on a leash during the first contact with the cat and several later contacts until you’re SURE the dog won’t attack the cat. The cat should also have access to hiding places the dog can’t reach, such as climbing spots. A young kitten might not be able to escape a dog easily so they need special care when being introduced to a dog.

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