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Behavior

Introducing Cats and Dogs

Today we are going to discuss one of man’s and our pets long time dilemmas—-introducing cats and dogs into our home. The fact is that about 50% of pet lovers have both cats and dogs in their home. Let’s start with you already being the proud owner of one or more dogs and now you or a family member wishes to bring a kitty into the happy family.

Bringing a cat home to meet your dog:

shutterstock_365761097This can quickly turn into a bad idea when introducing cats and dogs if handled improperly, or go smoothly when you and your family are prepared for the initial meeting of Rover and kitty. If this is the first time your dog has been around a kitten or adult cat you might want to prepare for the worst and hope things do not turn ugly. Start by keeping the dog on a leash when the feline is brought into the home.

Unlike dogs, cats need time when introducing cats and dogs to a new environment and doubly so if a dog is already living there. Go very slowly with this initial meeting. Make preparations before this meeting of family dog and new cat by choosing a room for the cat to live in until he or she begins to adjust and feel more comfortable. Spare bedrooms is an ideal choice, and have the litter box already in place as well as food and water bowls, toys, blanket, and a place for the cat to hide if the need arises. Instead of keeping the room door closed use a gate at the entrance so the cat does not feel completely isolated.

The last thing you want to do when your new cat crosses the threshold of his new home is be carrying him in your arms, that is unless you want scratched and be witness to a zoo erupting when your dog arrives and they lay eyes on each other. Always use a carry cage for this first introduction and have someone keep your dog on a leash at a safe distance from the caged kitty. Go directly to the previously prepared kitty room and leave the cat in there with the door to the cage open. He or she will gradually calm down, begin to explore the new surroundings, and eventually venture out of the room. Do not expect this to happen in minutes as this can take a few days.

If you have a yard and can put the dog there when the cat first arrives, that is quite probably the best approach. The logic and idea behind this approach is best described in the following Cats.About.com article:

…cats aren’t interested in meeting new friends until they know all the good hiding places and have cheek-rubbed and mapped the territory. Send Fido into the yard during Tabby’s exploration, or shut the dog inside the new cat’s room so he can sniff where she’s been.

Let your new kitten or adult cat set the pace for becoming a part of the family. They will do so in their own time as introducing cats and dogs mean adjustments will need to be made by the dog as well as your family.

We’ve covered introducing a cat to your dog with the emphasis on bringing the kitten or adult cat into your home when you already own a dog. Now we will take a look at this from the opposite side where you already own a cat and are now going to bring a dog into your home and family.

Introducing a new dog to your cat:

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Keep in mind that at this first meeting between your cat and new dog the one thing you do not want happening is coming in the house with the dog and just turning him loose. The cat is going to freak-out at this intrusion by a strange dog suddenly appearing within his domain. As dogs on the whole tend to be more social than cats the dog will either see a new friend in your cat or at the other extreme see it as something to hunt down and harm. Introducing cats and dogs requires prior planning on your part if things are going to go smoothly.

Your cat will need to have space to hide if he or she is frightened by the appearance of the dog so make these places available. Also it is a good idea to use a few baby gates at various room entrances so the cat and dog will be separated. Over time, as the two animals begin to bond, the need for these gates will not be there and they can be removed.

As described in an article on eHow.com:

You don’t want your cat attacking and scratching the puppy, and you don’t want the pup to terrify the cat. Separating them with a baby gate, large wire crate or ex-pen for the pup keeps everyone safe. Do this until they are curious but not upset at the presence of the newcomer. Until you are sure everyone will get along well, keep them separated in your absence.

When introducing cats and dogs always keep the dog on a leash and remember cats and dogs are not necessary natural enemies, but there is an instinct there for dogs to chase cats so be prepared for this and keep a tight hold on the leash. Depending on how social your cat is he might take only a few minutes to come to the conclusion this new creature in his home is not a threat and approach the dog. If so you are well on your way to a quiet, happy home. If not lead your dog around the home and maybe take him out in the yard for some play time. This will allow the dog to become comfortable with his new surroundings and should help ease the transition for all involved.shutterstock_149729891

Many people own cats and dogs and they get along fine so plenty of love and attention to both animals will speed the bonding process when introducing cats and dogs.

Do you own both a dog and cat? Any advice you care to share below is welcome!

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