Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

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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

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