Category: “Kitty Tips & Tricks”

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

You added a new kitty to your family! Congratulations! Now comes the challenge of introducing your new cat to your dog. There are many factors to consider before making the new cat to current dog introduction: Is you resident dog a young pup? Is your resident dog already cat friendly? Does your resident dog have a high prey drive? Is your new kitty “dog friendly”? Is your new kitty a small kitten? Is your new kitty nervous, high-strung or generally afraid? Keep these questions in mind as you continue to read.

Remember: Relationships take time to develop. Never force introductions! Your resident Fido might LOVE new kitty but new kitty could HATE Fido. And vice versa. Your job is to be their mentor, to supervise their interactions, to help them forge a positive relationship. This means all their encounters must be associated with POSITIVE experiences. Positive experiences include: 

  • Food/treats
  • Play
  • Attention/Praise

 Be patient and calm: Throughout this phase speak calmly, be generous with praise. Reinforce positive behavior with treats. Provide resident Fido special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of new kitty. New kitty can receive special cuddles in private. Avoid scolding, speaking in a nervous voice — even if the first meeting did not go well. 

Texas Animal Guardians New Cat/Dog introductions

Baby kitten needs to be kept safe at all times!

CAUTION:

1. Never introduce a tiny kitten to a full grown dog or even a puppy without holding the kitten: Little kitten bones can be easily broken and internal injuries can result from a quick swat of a dog paw or worse death can result if dog grabs kitten by neck and shakes it.

2. Never leave the new kitty and dog unsupervised: A dog can kill a cat very quickly. Even if you think your dog LOVES cats, be very cautious about leaving them alone together. ALWAYS give your new Kitty an escape route, something high to jump up on or a small cat door that he/she can run into (and dog can’t) to hide in safe area.

A Primer on New Cat and Dog Introductions

First!: Give new kitty a “safe” space of her own. A small room is preferable, perhaps a half bath or even a seldom-used closet. Place kitty’s box, food, a scratching post, a comfy bed and blanket in her room. Give new kitty a chance to “decompress” in this setting for a few days before making introductions.

Second!: Give new kitty a chance to explore the home (with Fido out of the way). Start with one room first and gradually expand this to other areas of the home. Give her a scratching post in one of the primary rooms of your home (living room, family room, etc.). The scratching post will help trim her claws while releasing pheromones from her paw pads. These pheromone scents will provide her tranquility.

Third!: Give Fido a blanket to sleep on and in a few days swap out the blankets between the two. That is, give Fido new kitty’s blanket and give new kitty Fido’s blanket. The idea behind this is to co-mingle their scents. Scents that are familiar are far less threatening. Continue swapping the unwashed blankets back and forth over this crucial introductory phase. 

Fourth!: Purchase these items to help the meeting go smoother between the two: calming collars or sprays. A specifically designed gate with an opening for cat to go through (to prevent Fido from following new kitty into her “safe” area).

Fifth!: Set up a supervised meeting between Fido and new kitty.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-love-dog-cat-image1570326

Let Kitty approach Fido on her own.

1. Select an area of the home where both new kitty and Fido are familiar.

2. Place a leash on Fido.

3. Do not use a leash or harness on the kitty — or anything else (such as a crate or carrier) that will cause the new kitty to feel trapped.

4. Have another member of the family or a friend hold Fido’s leash.

5. Bring Fido in first, then new kitty. (Place them far enough apart so they will feel comfortable.)

6. Allow them to set the pace about approaching each other. (Give Fido plenty of treats and praise for good behavior. If Fido knows basic obedience place him in a sit or down position.)

7. Let new kitty approach Fido if she wants to but don’t force her.

8. Keep this meeting short! After a few minutes put Fido away.

9. Let new kitty continue sniffing the area where Fido has been. Put new kitty away.

10. Bring Fido back into the room and allow him to sniff the area where new kitty has been.

11. Repeat this several times a day for a week (perhaps longer) or until the new kitty approaches Fido on her own.

12. Once they have touched noses, sniffed each other without incidence you can begin increasing their time together. Repeat these short visits until both Fido and new Kitty are comfortable with each other. Continue to keep a leash on Fido while they are in the same room together until you are certain they are comfortable with each others company. Always keep them separated when no one is home to supervise their interactions. 

cat_napping

A few suggestions: Separate an area for new kitty for her litter box and food. Fido will often indulge in eating kitty’s food and the litter box is a huge temptation for Fido. Place kitty’s food up on a high counter. Place litter box in a room with a propped open door (or better yet purchase a specifically designed gate that gives her access but keeps Fido out).

carlson-extra-wide-walk-thru-gate-with-pet-door

Gate with separate “cat” door keeps Fido out of kitty’s safe room.

Calming Collars Dogs

Calming collars can help introductions.

Calmming Collars Cats

New cat introductions

New cat introductions

How to Introduce your new Cat to your other Cats

You got a new kitty. Congratulations! The challenge of having the newcomer accepted by the resident feline might be a bit daunting. But take heart! Harmony can be established by following a few simple guidelines. Introducing a new cat to your other cat will take time and patience. Most important is patience on your part. The last thing you want to do is start them off on the wrong paw. As with humans, first impressions really do make a difference.

A few points to remember:

Cats are territorial creatures. Therefore, the fewer cats you have the greater the chance of rivalry. Multiple cat households may be more accepting of the Newbie since they already share their territory with others. Most spayed/neutered adult cats will accept young kittens more readily than adults. However, even a young kitten can cause stress to an adult cat. So never leave the youngster unsupervised with the resident cat.

Keep in mind: As with humans a new relationship needs time to develop. Don’t be tempted to force introductions! Your resident cat could take an immediate liking to Newbie but it’s best to avoid risks. Start Muffin and Newbie on the right path by helping them forge a positive relationship. This means that you want all their encounters to be associated with a pleasant experience. Pleasant experiences are anything that include food, play, and attention from you.

Be patient and calm: Throughout the new cat introduction phase speak calmly. Be certain to praise them both when they are tolerating each other. You can also reinforce praise with treats. During this phase provide Muffin with special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of Newbie. Newbie can receive cuddles in private.

NOTE: DO NOT introduce an intact male to a neutered male: Wait until he is neutered, then allow one week (to let the testosterone levels drop off) before making introductions. Kittens under the age of 12 weeks will be fine but they will need to be neutered around puberty (between 4 to 6 months) to avoid future conflict.

hr-andrea-baroni-cat-copy1-300x60 A Primer on New Cat Introductions

IT ALL BEGINS WITH SCENTS

Cats have a keen sense of smell. It is fourteen times greater than a human. They have 200 million scent receptors compared to a human’s 5 million. Their world consists of scents. They are highly aware of which scents are familiar and which ones are not. You might have witnessed this when you’ve brought a resident cat back from the veterinarian’s office. The cat has picked up strange scents at the vet, suddenly your other cats will hiss at their friend because they don’t “recognize” him.

Therefore the first step is to “dilute” Newbie’s scent as much as possible. Naturally, there is no way to completely mask the scent of the new cat, but there are ways of making it less threatening. The following steps might appear ridiculous from our human point of view, but cats smell first and see later!

1_orgFirst! Purchase cover up or masking pheromone products such as Comfort Zone with Feliway in both the spray and plug in versions.

Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural facial pheromones a cat produces. When Muffin rubs his face against you, he is actually leaving a “positive” pheromone marker on your clothing or skin. This type of pheromone is known as an “appeasing” pheromone and it can help promote a calmer cat. Plug in the Feliway in the rooms most often occupied by your resident cat. Have one for the room that Newbie will initially be confined to.

Squirt a small amount of the spray Feliway into the  palm of your hand. Then rub the “marked” palm through Newbie’s coat. Repeat this step with each resident cat as many times a day as possible. Don’t wash your hands until you have applied this small amount of Feliway on each cat in your home. Do not spray the Feliway directly on your cat and use only a small amount in the palm of your hand.

 2_orgSecond! Swap scents: Rotate bedding between Newbie and the resident cat.

Some experts suggest that each cat be shampooed with the same shampoo. The idea is the new cat will effectively smell similar to the other cats. However, this method only adds stress to an already stressful situation. Yet, the idea is sound since it attempts to mask individual scents. There are other, less stressful ways, to do this. An effective method is to rotate the bedding between the Newbie cat and the resident cat. It’s less stressful than a bath, but it is based on the same principal. Another method is to take a garment that you have slept in and rub this over each cat, repeating the process throughout the day. The rational behind this is to blend their scents with yours. This makes Newbie’s scent less threatening since it is mixed with familiar smells.

 3_org Third! Purchase scratching posts!

The cardboard variety will do nicely. Cats have scent glands in their front paws so each time they scratch an item they are “marking” it. Place a scratching post with your resident cat and another one with Newbie. Sprinkle some catnip on the scratching posts to add interest. Then rotate the posts between the kitties daily. They will enjoy their new catnip scented posts while sharing their scents.

 

INTRODUCE THE NEW CAT PHASE

 

New cat introductions can go smoother if you give the new cat a space of his own.

Step One: Isolate — Give Newbie a room of his own!

Before making any introductions place Newbie in a room by himself with a litter box, water, food, a scratching post, and comfortable bedding. Place his food dishes close to the door but not right up against it. You will be feeding your resident cat and the newcomer near the opposite side of the closed door. This gets them accustomed to being near each other, without actually seeing each other. It establishes pleasant associations (eating) with each others scents.

Each day you can move their dishes closer to the door until they are eating calmly on their respective side of the closed door. During this phase feed them their favorite food and offer them treats in this area.

Step Two: Play — Let the good times roll!

Play with them each day in their respective areas (on the opposite side of the closed door). Again, it’s all about establishing positive associations. Play is crucial to cats. They are predatory animals and using their energy in this manner reduces stress. Every cat is different, some like the “cat fisher” toys, others love stuffed mice, balls, crinkly paper, feathers, the laser beam or a long ribbon. Regardless, find the toys that turns your cats on and use it consistently each day. Playing in this manner will help you cement a bond with the Newbie and the resident cat will enjoy his time with you too. In time, you will use this playtime to invite the resident cat and Newbie to enjoy a little positive playtime interaction.

Step Three: Explore — Let’s take it to the next level! 

Keep your other cat confined while you let Newbie wander throughout the home. This promotes more scent exchange and it allows Newbie to explore his new territory. He will familiarize himself with the resident cat without a face-to-face meeting.

Prop open the door that’s dividing their feeding area and Newbie’s living area. Only prop it a tiny amount, not enough for them to get their head through. Keep the door propped open slightly, gradually opening it a little wider. To prevent physical contacts between the cats place a baby gate in the door frame. Prop open the door securely, keeping it slightly ajar. The idea is to let them see each other but not interact.

Continue this until the cats are comfortable seeing each other. If at any time they begin displaying negative behavior (such as hissing) close the door slowly so that they will not feel threatened by each others presence. If they are getting along increase their interactions by removing any barrier between them. Increase positive associations between them by inviting them into playtime together. During this crucial phase be more fastidious about cat box cleanliness. Give them each plenty of individual attention.

Step Four: Avoid negative behavior!

After the barrier is removed, they can interact with each other for feeding and play. During this phase of the new cat introduction be present whenever they are together. If the cats begin showing fear or aggression towards each other, put a stop to it immediately before it escalates. It’s perfectly normal for them to display a little bit of this but you don’t want it to become an all-out fight. That type of behavior will only ruin any chances of them becoming friends. If aggressive behavior erupts gently place a towel or small blanket on one of them, wrapping them in it, and remove them from the room. If this occurs, you will need to begin the introduction process from the beginning. However, it is rare for actual aggression to occur if a slow, gradually introduction has been made.

The Results? Pawsitively wonderful!

As your Muffin and Newbie continue getting to know each other give them praise, indulge them in playtime (offering catnip as an incentive), and keep their nails trimmed to avoid injury. Avoid litter box problems by keeping the boxes clean (with their preferred type of litter) and wiping up accidents with an enzyme cleaner. Before you know it, they will end up at least tolerating each other but sometimes they end up being best friends!

The outcome of a slow gradual new cat introduction can be a lasting friendship.

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