They may be portrayed in cartoons and films as traditional enemies but it can be possible for dogs and cats to get on in the same household. If the situation is handled carefully, they could end up being life-long buddies. Follow this guide to introducing these four-legged family members to each other.
Prepare the ground for the introduction
Prepare the house where the first meeting will take place. You need to designate a room as a safe area for the cat. This is somewhere that most breeds of dogs http://tuftoys.com/top-10-small-medium-large-dogs-facts-information-names/ cannot access. Place all of the cat’s items such as a bed, bowls, toys and litter tray in this room. Stairgates are a perfect way of limiting where the dog can get to without having to close doors. Also, make sure that there are plenty of ‘high ground’ areas in each room that your cat can get to if they feel threatened. You don’t want them climbing the curtains.
Extra care is needed when introducing kittens
Kittens are tiny and therefore far more vulnerable than an adult cat. They are also more playful and active than adult cats and that can get them into difficult situations! Stairgates are of little use because the kitten will just walk out through the bars. A very large dog crate is a good alternative as you can fit the feeding bowls and the litter tray as well as a bed in there. Cover one side with a blanket so it feels like a safe and secure area and place it up against a wall.
Take it slowly
It is best if you do not try to rush the process. Limit where the cat can wander at first. If you spend a few days ‘scent swapping’ the initial introductions are likely to be more successful. You can do this by stroking the cat, then the dog and then the cat again without washing your hands. Swap over their bedding for the first couple of nights and then swap them back again. If you are bringing a new cat into the home, take the dog out for an hour whilst the cat has a wander around.
First face to face meeting
After a few days, it will be time for the first face to face meeting. Choose your room carefully. It needs to have some ‘high-ground’ and easy access to the cat’s ‘safe room’. Take the dog out for a long walk so that it is calm and not over-excited. At no stage must the dog be allowed to chase the cat around the room. It is fun for the dog and is habit that, once started, can be hard to break. The cat, on the other hand, will be very distressed by the experience.
Your dog needs to be on a lead at all times and you need some tasty treats as a distraction. Bring the dog into the room but not too close to the cat. Over time, allow the dog to get closer and praise them and award them with treats for good behavior near the cat.