Introducing Your New Cat to a Dog
31 December, 2013

If you are bringing your adopted cat home to your pet family and you have a dog (or even another cat), it can be an adjustment for everyone.  However, don’t let that worry you or stop you from trying.  In fact, many dogs and cats get along very well.  Dogs that are gentle and friendly and aren’t predatory types can be great housemates with cats. But keep in mind that dogs and cats, like people, need time to get to know each other. If they’ve never seen each other before, they probably won’t be instant friends.

Dogs who have never lived with cats usually react in one of these ways:

The dog wants to play with the cat

Your new dog might treat your cat like another dog and try to play with her, particularly if your dog is young and your cat is inquisitive and approaches him. If your cat is young and your dog is small, this interaction can lay the groundwork for a strong, relationship between the two. Playful dogs often don’t respond appropriately to a cat’s signals to stop, and the tension or aggression between the two can escalate rapidly, causing the cat distress and putting her in danger. Keep in mind that a dog can kill a cat easily, even in play. And a scared or angry cat can use her claws to seriously injure a dog.

The dog wants to chase the cat

Unfortunately, dogs often perceive cats as prey. This is especially likely if your cat runs when she sees a dog. Your new dog might respond to your cat’s movement as he would to the movement of a fleeing prey animal. He might chase and even kill your cat. Similarly, cats who have never lived with dogs will likely view them as predators and will run or become defensively aggressive.

The dog is skeptical on meeting your cat

An older or quieter dog might be intimidated by your cat, particularly if she’s young or rambunctious. He might approach your cat cautiously or watch her from a distance and avoid her whenever possible.

Cats who have never lived with dogs generally react to them one of two ways:

The cat tries is skeptical or tries to avoid the dog

Cats who were raised with dogs, young or confident cats, and cats living in with other cats might accept a new dog as a safe and interesting intruder. Their reaction might be to watch the dog from a distance or approach him inquisitively.

The cat becomes antagonistic

Many cats don’t accept the introduction of new animals well. They consider other animals as intruders in their territory. And cats, unlike dogs, don’t have a built-in social system that helps them to peacefully share territory. They react defensively.

How to Set Up Safe, Successful Introductions

It’s up to you to protect your cat and set up introductions carefully so that she feels safe and has a pleasant experience getting acquainted with your new dog.

Below are some tips to set up a safe introduction

Introduce the dog and the cat in a safe environment where you can dictate the meet and greet.

1.        If your dog has a room or crate already, this is the best way to start the introduction.

2.        Introduce them slowly while you can monitor how the meet and greet is going.  If all goes smoothly, give them more time together.  If they are not getting along, bring them back to their respective spaces.

3.        Try rubbing a towel on each pet and letting the other cat or dog smell it, so they can get comfortable with each other’s scent.

4.        Try again in a little time and have their time together a bit longer each time.  Make sure to praise both the cat and dog when they react as you want them to.

5.        Always have a safe haven for each pet where they can retreat to when feeling nervous.

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