Cats and dogs have always been characterized as enemies. This is one of the reasons why you might feel a little worried if you want to bring a dog and a cat to live together. You can't exactly put them in a room and hope for the best. Planning is the key to success in this case. There are a few steps to take in order to prevent stress for the animals and for you. Whether you have a resident dog and you want to bring in a new cat or the other way around, let’s take a look at how you can help them get to know each other and become best friends.
Bringing a new cat while having a resident dog
- Check your dog’s behavior around other cats. Before coming home with the cat, make sure your dog doesn’t have any issues with cats in general. If you have acquaintances with dog-friendly cats, make a few visits and observe your dog’s behavior.
- Strengthen your dog’s elementary commands. This is an important step as a preparation for their encounter. The dog will likely get excited and will want to jump all over the cat. Practice “Sit” and “Stay” and work with some treats if you need to.
- Establish the cat’s general headquarters in one room of the house. Needless to say, it should be a room where your dog is not allowed. Cats need a little more time to get accustomed to their environment, especially if there’s another animal involved.
- The scent is very important for both cats and dogs. You need to familiarize them with their scents long before they will meet face to face. Exchange their beds if you can or use old rugs that you’ll switch back and forth from one bed to the other.
- Ensure your cat has a getaway path and a safe haven. Cats like to hide; even when they don’t feel threatened. That's why they love boxes and high inaccessible places. Make sure your cat can reach her hiding places easily.
- Move their feeding stations on the opposite sides of the same door. This way, they will get used to the idea of another animal nearby.
- Use baby gates. They come in different sizes, so make sure to use one that is tall enough for the dog not to jump over. Also, keep in mind the dog’s size; the little devil may sneak between the bars in order to get on the other side and sniff the cat’s butt.
- Leash the dog for the first encounter. Dogs are a little (and by "a little" we mean "a lot") hyperactive then a kitty cat and they're more likely to want some action on the first date. So you need to have a little more control over your dog. Especially on their first encounter. A leash is a perfect way to gain control and observe his reactions.
- Short sessions. You already know that short sessions are the key to success when it comes to effective training. Well, it’s the same with bringing a cat and a dog together.
- Provide treats and distractions for both of them. Make sure you have some treats on hand for reinforcing your dog’s good behavior. Also, the cat may need some distractions too. A few of her favorite toys are always a good idea.
- Time and patience. As with any long-lasting relationship, you need to invest some time and patience in order to develop a durable friendship between your dog and your cat.
Bringing a new dog while you have a resident cat
- The house is the cat’s territory. This is how cats perceive their environment. Any other animal is seen as an intruder and your cat will automatically reject the dog if you don’t take things slow.
- Keep the dog in one room. A new dog will want to stuff his nose all around the house. And while this is not a problem for you, the cat will see it as a threat and will act accordingly. Furthermore, make sure she has access to her hiding places and her escape routes. This will help her accept the dog’s presence having a much more relaxed attitude.
- Allow the cat in the dog’s room. When the dog is outside, of course. Let her smell and explore the bed and feeding bowl. Also, let the cat dictate the pace. She will give you signals to interpret if you pay close attention.
- Familiarizing scents. Get them acquainted with each other’s scent long before they meet face to face. Switch their bedding or go back and forth with an old t-shirt or a blanket.
- Keep the dog on a leash. On their first encounter, the dog should definitely have a leash on. It’s better to stay on the safe side. You could also try distracting the dog when the cat comes near him. Treats and positive encouragements seem to work pretty well.
- Keep it short. Again, the meetings should occur in short rounds. You don’t want to overwhelm the cat or the dog. Or the cat.
Consider postponing their encounter or get professional help if some or all of the following happen:
- If the dog seems to stare at the cat for too long and drools excessively.
- Whenever the cat growls and hisses continuously.
- If the dog lunges toward or tries to snap the cat.
- When your dog displays questionable behavior while in the presence of other cats.
- If your cat displays questionable behavior while in the presence of other dogs.
- When the cat stops drinking water, eating and using the litter box.
Well, it's not exactly easy to bring a dog and a cat together. But it's not very difficult either. The key is to remain calm throughout the whole process. The animals pick on any emotion and act accordingly. It's also important to be patient. Time is particularly important for the cat because it takes a while to gain her confidence. And by forcing things to happen faster, you' and your dog will hit a brick wall. With a little time adjusting to one another, they will become best friends in no time!
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