Cats and dogs are made with opposing traits in nature. Cats are territorial animals, and they might not welcome the idea of living with other animals, especially with dogs.
Dogs, on the other hand, are social animals at heart. They will jump at the chance to be friends with cats, even if it means ignoring their territorial nature.
Despite these opposing personalities, cats and dogs can become best friends! It only takes extra patience and careful preparation.
If you're thinking of getting a feline companion for your furry best friend, here's how you can introduce them to each other peacefully.
Finding the Right Cat For Your Furry Family
The two important things you have to consider in bringing a feline friend to your pet family are personalities and their past experience with other animals.
It's ideal to choose a cat who has experience living/socializing with other animals, preferably with a dog. Someone with a good social skills and can handle the playful nature of your dog.
A feline who has a matching personality with your dog is ideal too. If your dog is a friendly and playful one, adopt a cat who can party on the same level as your dog. Otherwise, you might want to consider a calmer and chill cat.
Preparing for the Introduction
Before doing the face-to-face introduction, you must be 100% sure everything's ready for this stage before you let them loose.
Because if things are not fully ready yet, your dog might jump on your new cat out of excitement. This may surprise and scare your cat and may become aggressive to the dog and even you.
Before bringing your new cat or kitten home, make sure you secure a safe area for her, a space she can mark as her own territory. The area should be large enough so you can place the necessities and some of her cat toys within her reach.
To make sure you have all the necessities covered (like food and water bowls), you can check out cat blogs like Purrfect n' Pawesome.
The location should be a safe distance away from the dog, so your dog can't bother your cat before the introduction happens, and the cat can explore her new home without running into the dog unexpectedly.
When the cat's finally home, it's time for the scent introduction so they can both avoid the stranger danger phase when they meet face-to-face. Here are some ways you can introduce their scent to each other:
- Switch their beds. This means you have to get your cat a larger bed that fits your dog too.
- Rub pieces of cloth on their body and place the clothes under their food bowls. This helps them associate each other's scent with something desirable.
- Switch their toys sometimes.
After the scent introduction's over, you can start letting them loose and slowly reach out to each other. Give them alternate playtime schedules so the other can explore while the other's safely tucked in his/her space.
Also, ensure that your dog is ready for the introduction. That is, he won't react wildly when he sees the new member of the family. It's ideal to refresh his obedience training first before proceeding with the face-to-face introduction.
During the Face-to-Face Introduction
When you're confident that both your pets are ready, you can now do the anticipated face-to-face introduction!
Bring the cat in the meeting area safely tucked in a carrier. This way, the dog can inspect his new friend without actually getting near him. If the cat gets scared of the dog's presence, she can easily go on the back portion of the carrier.
Make sure your dog's on-leash during the meeting so you can control him when he goes wild.
Do this kind of meeting for 10 minutes or less every day. Shorter meetings like this are actually better than longer ones to prevent your cat from feeling uncomfortable. Keep doing these meetings until they're both calm and confident in each other's presence.
When I can let them meet each other unsupervised?
That depends. When your dog is not obsessing over your cat anymore, and if your cat is calm and can confidently walk around the house without being jumpy every time, then you can let them loose and play with each other.
You should still supervise them even if you let them meet on their own. Or you can place some sort of fence with stair gates so they can still roam the house, meet and sniff each other out, and still enjoy a distance between them.
If you're not at home, don't let them run loose around the house, or you'll be surprised by the mess!
A Few More Reminders for a Successful Introduction
1. To train your dog to keep calm, use toys as distractions
If, during obedience training, he goes wild at the sight of the cat, and commands don't work at your disposal, use toys as distractions instead. When he grabs the toy, give him a treat. He'll get the idea that he's doing the right thing by grabbing the toy during this situation.
If push comes to shove, you can gently tug his leash to control him during his aggressive episode.
2. Don't bring your dog to a shelter when looking for a new cat
We mentioned that matching personality is the key, but don't think of bringing your dog to the shelter or a pet shop just to find the perfect feline friend for him. You'll scare all the cats there, and your dog may not like the cold welcome.
3. Don't rush everything
In reality, a face-to-face introduction may take longer for some cats and dogs. Like humans, they have different personalities too. Some may get accustomed to each other quickly, while others may take months. Have some extra patience and let them work their relationship at their own pace.
Cats and dogs can become best friends with the right supervision.
Gone are the days when cats and dogs are stereotyped as each other's archnemesis. These adorable creatures can live in harmony and spend the rest of their lives with each other's friendship! All it takes is 100% support from their human friend - YOU!