When you first introduce a dog and cat together, 9 times out of 10 the cat will be the one that is fearful and the first to bolt away. There are of course rare exceptions, especially for smaller dogs that are poorly socialized. I remember one of my Chihuahuas who would never go near a cat again after the very first one he came close to hissed and swatted at his little nose, tearing a big gash across it!
The manner in which a dog reacts to a new cat can fall into several categories. Some dogs will immediately perceive a cat as prey and will do everything they can to chase the cat with full intentions of hurting it.
Other dogs will be less aggressive and more on the curious side towards the animal. This curiosity can turn into play or aggression, which depends on the way the cat responds to the dog. The dog may want to play at first but the cat may feel threatened, become defensive, and start acting aggressively. This can trigger and provoke the dog’s own aggression.
Then there are dogs who seem to fall in love at first glance when they see a cat. They are relaxed when in the cat’s presence and view the animal as the ultimate play toy. Hopefully the cat will respond in the same manner and there will be no problems between them.
In most cases, it is very difficult to determine what each animal’s intentions are during the first few hours of socialization. If you are not sure how the meeting is going and whether or not the situation could turn aggressive, you can always seek the assistance from a certified animal behaviorist or other knowledgeable consultant that studies dog and cat behavior.
Rules Of The Introduction
If you plan on bringing a new cat or dog into your home where you already have a pet residing, the manner in which you introduce the two animals can mean the difference between a long-lasting relationship or aggression and injury to one of them, which will most likely be the cat.
Your goal during this introduction is to help both animals become familiar with one another in small baby steps, or doses, if you like. Friendship between a cat and a dog depends upon friendly familiarity.
The very first introduction should be a positive experience for both of the animals. As we’ve mentioned before, always be on your guard for the cat’s protection and safety. And when your animals cannot be supervised, they should all be separated until you get back home.
The length of this introduction phase can vary. Sometimes cats and dogs can become best friends in a matter of days, while other situations could take weeks or even months before the animals start tolerating each other.
You must be willing to put in the time in order to babysit these meetings for however long it takes. It may go fast or it may move at a snails pace. Either way, your responsibility in guiding the animals together and maintaining the peace is key to a successful friendship.