Are you a “dog family” who has decided to open your hearts and homes to a cat? Congratulations! With a little pre-planning and care, your new cat or kitten will become a member of the family that even the dog will get along with!
It’s not a complete myth that cats and dogs don’t get along. Some dogs and cats live happily together, sleep side-by-side and share their pet parent’s lap. Still there are those dogs and cats whose personalities simply don’t mesh; in that case, your dog and cat might live in a state of grudging respect, but never share a lap or a bed together. That’s all right. Not every dog or cat get along, just like not every human gets along with one another.
If you’re introducing a cat to your dog family you want to do it slowly and with care. Keep in mind, this new kitty will be an interloper – in your dog’s mind. Also, depending on your dog’s breed and temperament, a cat may look like prey and in that case, it’s up to you to keep a watchful eye on both pets – perhaps for the long-term.
Here are a few questions to ask if you’re introducing a cat to your dog family:
- Has your dog ever been exposed to cats?
- If you adopted your dog, did you ask whether she got along with cats? Most dogs are “tested” before they are put up for adoption to see if they get along with other dogs, cats and children.
- Are you ready to put in the time and effort it takes to assure your dog and cat will get off on the right paw with one another?
Slow introduction. When you bring the cat into the house, have someone else hold onto the dog and keep the cat in a carrier. Have a room set aside in which the cat can get accustomed to his new home and where he can be safe from being chased by the family dog. Let the dog and cat sniff one another under the door to get used to each other’s scent.
Try using cages. After you’ve spent a few days with the cat in a separate room, or the dog in a separate room while you let the cat roam his new domain, put the kitty into a dog crate. Keep the cat safely in the crate and let the cat and the dog sniff one another with the safety of the bars between them.
Leash him. Enlist a friend or family member to hold your dog on a leash while you carry the cat through the house. If the cat seems calm, get down to the dog’s level and let them sniff noses. If growling ensues, separate the two and start over at another time.
A truce. Once you feel comfortable the cat and dog can happily coexist or at least with a minimum of barking, hissing and gnashing of claws, find a space where the cat will be fed his dinner. Find a solitary location for the cat’s litter box.
Don’t let the dog interrupt the cat while the cat is doing his business in the litter box or the cat may develop litter box avoidance issues. Put the cat’s food in a place where he doesn’t have to fight the dog for quiet time to eat his dinner. Your dog and cat deserve a location where they can eat their dinner in peace.
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