Cartoon animals may spawn hilarious antics, but millions of real-life cats and dogs have learned to love (or at least respect) each other. Perhaps that’s why millions of pet owners feel like their home isn’t complete until they add a puppy and kitten to the family. It’s easy as long as you stick to a few steps.
Under no circumstances should you let them “work it out themselves”. This method is quite cumbersome even under the best of conditions. It’s important to remember that introductions can be dangerous, especially for a cat. Some dogs view cats as prey, and even those who are generally calm can react instinctively to runaway cats.
Launches need to be monitored and managed with planning, care and patience. If you have a cat and are bringing a dog, try to find an animal that cats are familiar with. Animal shelters, rescue groups, or private parties looking to house puppies and dogs often know if an animal has successfully cohabitated with one.
If you have a dog and are planning to bring a cat, start working on Fido’s obedience before adding the new animal. Your dog should be comfortable on the leash and trained to obey your commands to remain in either the “sit” or “land” position while on the leash.
For the cat’s comfort, it should be confined to a small area during the initial stages of introduction. A second bathroom or guest room provides a safe place for the cat while it adjusts to the dog’s sounds and smells. Make sure the room has everything they need (including food and water bowls and a litter box) and that they have frequent one-on-one visits with family members.
After the cat has been isolated for a few days, you can start using it. Put the dog on the leash and open the room door. Let the animals see each other, but don’t let the dog chase the cat, even while it’s playing. Use “sit” or “stay down” to keep the dog in place while the cat adjusts to its presence. Don’t force the cat to interact with the dog; If your cat wants to watch it from their darkest corners in bed, so be it. Reward both animals with treats and praise.
Keep the dog on a leash for two weeks in the presence of the cat. You should always make sure that the cat has a way of escaping the dog – baby gates are particularly effective. Build up the time the animals spend together and make the show more and more rewarding with more rewards and praise.
When can you take the leash off and let them begin their life together? When the dog isn’t interested in teasing the cat and the cat feels safe enough to get out from under the bed. How long it will take to reach this step depends on the animals involved, and they should work at their own pace.
It’s not uncommon for dogs and cats to become friends and enjoy each other’s company. Take the time to organize the introduction properly, and you can build a friendship that will last for the rest of your pets’ lives.