You might be thinking about adding a cat to your family, or maybe a sibling canine for an existing cat. They may not start out as best-friends-forever, but with careful planning and a little bit of inside knowledge, you can improve the chances of a peaceful introduction and a rosy future for your fur babies. How do you introduce a cat to a dog?
These are some of our top tips and tricks. But remember, you can’t guarantee that two animals will get along. Don’t leave them alone until they’re all right.
You may have an inherited pet or moved in with someone who has a fluffy friend. Or maybe you simply cannot live without a cat and a kitten. Here are some tips to help you introduce your cat to a dog.
Do your research
It’s true that every creature on the planet has its own unique personality. However, there are certain traits you can expect to see in the majority of dogs belonging to a particular breed. These are just generalizations. But take a look to see if any alarm bells sound!
- There are many sight-hound breeds such as whippets and salukis. They are bred to be able to spot movement and give chase. This breed is fast with a strong prey drive. If they are bred to work (e.g. racing greyhounds), then they will not be able unlearn their instincts or training.
- There are many scent-hound breeds, including dachshunds, basset hounds and dachshunds. They are designed to hunt by scent and have a strong prey drive. Although less prominent than sight-hound breeds’, many make great companions for other animals.
- Terriers (such a Jack Russells or Staffies, Bostons or Airedales, Schnauzers, and Staffies). Terrier breeds have a stronger prey drive than cats, but with a smaller target than cats (think rats or mice). Kitty might be surprised if your cat thinks she’s found a pet of her size, even if they get along with your cat. Terriers are not afraid to stand up for themselves!
- Working, Sporting, Companion, Companion, and Toy breeds (including retrievers, spaniels and collies, shepherds, and bulldogs) are often highly trained and have a low prey drive. They may be your best option.
- Puppies Any breed can be taught to respect feline friends. It is possible for larger breeds to accidentally or injure your cat, so it might be a bit unrealistic to choose a Bernese mountain-dog.
However, our canine friends are full of surprises so even if your dog isn’t the right choice, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up!
A few breeds such as Maine Coons or Abyssinians, Norwegian Forest Cats or Siberians, American shorthairs or ragdolls can be a great match. They have a lot of traits like playfulness, a tendency to fetch, and even the ability to play fetch. Cats are more independent than dogs and can live alone. Some cats are unable to tolerate other cats. You’ll need slow movement – your cat’s pace. Make sure there is plenty of space for your cat, regardless of its age or breed. A well-trained dog can be your kitten’s best friend if it is young.
Top tip Generally, your cat will need somewhere to eat and drink.
You should give your pet the chance to relax and adjust to new sounds and smells. This can be done in a safe space such as your bedroom, conservatory, or study. Your pet should not be allowed to disturb you until they are able to relax for a few hours.
Top tip Place a piece of bedding your cat has slept in into your doggo’s bed or crate and place it on their favorite blanket for naps. This will allow them to get used to the new smells around them.
How to bring a cat into a dog home
There are some steps you can do before you add your cat to your dog companion. Try to do at least one of these:
- You can bring in any additional items that you will need, such as cat food, fountain (yes some cats need a fountain), and flap to ensure your pet doesn’t have to learn too many things at once.
- Make sure your cat has plenty of places to hide. If you don’t have any suitable places, you can add “cat shelves”. You might find that the table tops are too close to your doggo so offer a variety of options.
- Give your dog a head start by teaching it to settle in one spot (such as on a blanket) when you command it. You can also teach them impulse control skills like waiting before they grab a treat that you place in front of them.
- It will prevent your dog from being overly enthusiastic on the big day. You can also play with your dog inside.
Now that your cat has taken some time to adjust to the new environment, your dog is calm and tired. Next, what? Give your dog something to chew on or a food puzzle. Ask your assistant to take Fido into the safe space that you have designated for him, such as an adjoining area separated by a stairgate.
If your doggo isn’t able to notice the new addition, ask your helper for a gentle talk with the cat. This should start things moving! You can position yourself close to the gate, one on each side, so that you can intervene if someone gets too excited. After pooch has had the chance to look at their new friend, you can bring them back to your attention. You can get pooch to settle down or show some tricks. If they are unable to resist the tempting new smells and sights, reward them with lots of yummy treats!
You’ll now be able to tell if your doggo will be a good friend to all animals. Or if you need to take it a step further to peaceful coexistence. Fido won’t respond to commands or settle when you’re near him, so it’s best for you to keep them apart and to continue to practice until he does.
If your dog doesn’t change within a week, you can contact a professional trainer to help you.
However, if your cat is comfortable with the dog, it’s possible to let them meet up. You should make sure that there are vertical escape routes available. Also, ensure that the cat is out of harm’s way and is paying attention (and the dog if possible). Open the gate that separates them. For this first interaction, you can also have your dog muzzled. Keep them on the leash so that you can intervene if they get into trouble.
You can then just wait to see who moves next.
The cat might approach the dog.
Dogs may approach cats.
Whatever the case, the goal is to calm the dog and distract him from his feline sibling by giving commands and treats.
If one of your pets is feisty, you can separate them and then try again. They will eventually get to know each other. A specialist trainer may be able help you if your pets are not getting along. They will be able identify the root cause and provide advice tailored to your specific situation.
How to bring a cat home with a dog?
Top tip If you don’t have one yet, get one. The diffuser releases tranquilizing feline hormones, which help kitties feel calm and safe in their surroundings.
If you’re introducing a puppy to a cat or multi-cat household, the above steps can be applied. To make it work, place the puppy in a separate room that is not occupied by cats. Also, make sure your dog is not allowed to reach the litter tray or food/water. Although your cat may have many favorite hiding spots, it is possible to provide additional options for the dog. You might want to give your cat a few more escape routes just in case. Indoor kitties need this because many of their favorite routes may be in reach of a wet nose. They will also need lots of their own territory.
This is because you can’t prepare the dog for training. Also, you won’t know how to distract him if the dog is a rescue or breeder’s new addition. You’ll need to take your time and move slowly. You may find your cat is more comfortable approaching a nervous puppy, so it’s worth crate training immediately.
Continue to slowly move through each stage until your new siblings become comfortable with each other and are able to be distracted. You can praise the cat if it isn’t interested in you, or give treats to the pooch. Also, keep some treats out of reach of the kittens so they have some fun things to do.
Your furry friends will eventually have to learn how to set boundaries. There have been many instances when dogs were allowed to play with cats, and even get their noses ‘booped. So don’t be surprised if your furry friends do get a few scratches. They will become more familiar with each other over time and find their own ways of interrelating with one another.
What happens after the introductions are complete?
It is a constant task to ensure that your pets live happily together. However, it will get easier each day. There are some things you will need to watch out for the first few times.
- Outside play. You might find that your doggo reacts differently to outside play. Make sure you have a safe escape route, and keep your pooch on the lead!
- Puppy time. Kitties can get jealous if someone else gets all the attention. It’s important to give your pet lots of attention, with praise for each other if they aren’t showing jealousy.
- Visitors are especially children. Kids can be unpredictable and loud, which can pose a problem for any pet. They can be furry friends’ favorite people and trigger a protective instinct. You should be available to provide calm introductions for friends and their children.
Here’s how to introduce a cat to a dog or vice versa. Take it slow and seek out experts if you need help.