Adopting a cat is a great and exciting thing, without a doubt! If you happen to already own a dog that’s waiting at home, this changes things, however. You’ll have to think about how you’ll introduce your two pets to each other so that they like each other and get along well. Safe and slow is the name of the game. The best way to go about introducing your dog and cat is with the help of a professional pet behaviorist or a trainer. This is especially true if you don’t know how your dog will react to a cat. The main goal is all of this is to keep your dog and your cat stress-free while acquainting them in the best way possible. But how can you do that?
Get Your Dog Ready
If your dog doesn’t already know basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘stay’, now would be the time to teach him. To get your cat ready, set up an isolation room for her with her food, water, litter box, and bed. This will give her the chance to adjust to her new home. Depending on her personality, this can take as long as one day or even a few weeks. What we mean when we say ‘adjusted’ is acting relaxed, using her litter box, not hiding, and no dilated black pupils peeking at you from the other side of the door. It goes without saying that you should spend time with your cat in her isolation room, without your dog in the room.
Opposite Sides of the Door
Feed your cat and dog on either side of a closed solid door (not see-through like a screen or a glass door) for a week or so. They’ll start associating each other’s presence (smell, sounds) with a positive experience – eating. If your dog begins whining or pawing at the door, correct him gently and move the food bowls father away, keep him on a leash, and gradually move his bowl closer to the cat’s door each time you feed him. Eventually, when they’re eating calmly near the door, expose them to each other’s scent in a more prominent way.
To get both of your pets accustomed to each other’s scents, switch their sleeping blankets or beds occasionally. Rub a towel on one animal and then put it underneath the other animal’s food dish.
Get Your Cat Used to a Crate
To get your cat used to spending periods of time in a big wire crate, lure her into it with a cat treat trail. You might need to start feeding her right outside the crate before slowly moving the dish father back during each meal. Shut the door for several minutes, then let her out. If she gets nervous in the crate, practice this a few times a day until she becomes relaxed.
Leashed Dog, Cat in Crate
This step has to be done with absolutely no physical contact. Put your dog away in another room first, then put your cat in her crate. Carry it into your biggest room and place it as far away from the entry as possible. Put a leash and harness on your dog and bring him into the crate room. Have him ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ just inside the entryway, but where he can see the cat. Keep him there for several minutes, practicing ‘sit’, ‘shake’, and ‘down’ commands and the like. If he ignores your commands by being too interested in the cat or growls, barks, or lunges, use a firm ‘no’ and walk him out of the room. Get his attention outside again by practicing a few commands and try again. Remember to stay calm – pets respond to the tension they feel in you. Repeat this step as many times as you need to until both pets are not showing any fear or aggression towards each other. You’ll be able to slowly bring your dog closer to your cat. Make sure to praise both pets for good behavior!
Dog Leashed, Cat Loose
Now that your dog and cat know each other, you can move onto the next step: having your pup leashed on the far side of the room and your cat out of her crate. Keep your dog focused on you by using training commands and treats. If your cat stays in her crate, tempt her with treats right outside it. One thing to keep in mind – never allow your dog to chase your cat – this can turn deadly in seconds. Once your pets hang out (over the course of 2 weeks or so) and are used to each other and relaxed, you’re good to go!