How to Introduce Your New Cat to Your Dog
Cats and dogs might hate each other in the movies, but they don’t have to in your house! There are, in fact, ways that you can help them to get along. There are certain precautions to take but implementing some of these tips can ease your new cat’s transition into your home with your dog. By being proactive about your animals’ comfort, you’re not only protecting them but also encouraging a healthy, happy home. This takes the pressure off your pets so they can focus on settling in and getting to know each other better. Continue reading to learn some of the best ways to introduce a new cat to your dog.
For expert insight on this topic, I consulted Dr. Irina Perdew, certified small animal veterinarian, CEO of Vetletics and inventor of the EQ Press, the first pneumatic dynamic compression device for horses. Dr. Perdew also has an extensive background in animal behavior training, making her the perfect consultant in this regard. She suggests that when it comes to bringing a new cat home to your other pets, it’s best to have their first meeting in a neutral area. “Avoid invading your other pet’s territory,” Dr. Perdew advises. “Have the dog on a leash and let the cat approach as he wishes.” This is when being hands-on is important. The meeting should be closely supervised to maintain both animals within the neutral space.
Another tip would be to keep an eye on the clock during these greetings. The first handful of meetups should be quick to ensure safety for everyone involved. “Keep the first few sessions short,” Dr. Perdew states, “and remove the cat first to avoid any sudden moves by the dog, which could scare the cat and cause a disaster.” Rapid movements are a no-go in this situation. Maintain a calm demeanor to set the tone for your pets and keep an eye on them at all times during these short sessions.
‘Slow and steady’ should be your mantra while introducing two pets. In fact, many professionals in the field recommend waiting after bringing your cat home before introducing him to your dog. Dr. Perdew is one of them. “Give both a few days to settle into the house before the introduction,” she proposes. However, just because the pets haven’t met yet doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to help things along. “Give each individual attention with praise and treats. I always recommend to let them get used to each other first through the door,” she explains. Another idea is to help your dog get used to some of the sounds that your cat might make in the future. “Statistically dogs react more to the noises that cats make, so playing videos (at low volume first) of cats meowing, purring, etc. while praising your dog for calm behavior is helpful!”
As for senior pets, you can still introduce them, but you need to take some additional steps to ensure their safety. Be sure to consider their health condition as well as their attitude toward younger pets during the meeting. “Geriatric pets are a bit more settled in their ways,” Dr. Perdew reminds us. “They can be crankier and keep in mind their arthritic hips. They don’t want to move as much.” To safeguard your older pets, make sure that they have their own area that the younger pet does not have access to. “Allow them to withdraw to a safe space during initial interactions while ensuring that the younger pet being introduced is restricted from that territory,” she hints. “All previous advice is valid, just take it extra slow in consideration of the older pet’s limitations.”
Lastly, Dr. Perdew would like to stress the importance of simply being mindful and aware of your pets. “Dogs have not yet learned how to protect themselves from a cat’s sharp claws; therefore, ‘puppy meets cat’ is a regular presentation to the veterinary clinic,” she says, “so it is critical to respect the animal’s natural behavior.” Staying vigilant is the key. “It is important to recognize the signs before something bad happens. Paying attention to the animal’s body language is important to stay one stop ahead.” Dr. Perdew also suggests making use of kennels, baby gates, and play pens to keep the animals separated if needed. This way, they are still able to meet and sniff noses, but with much less risk.
Essentially, these tips should facilitate the fostering of a healthy bond between your cat and dog. Still, these introductions should never be approached callously. Remember to give the incoming animal some time to settle in before introducing them to your other pet. Be sure to make use of safe spaces for both pets, and don’t let initial meetings run too long. Don’t rush anything, especially with older pets, and be aware of what’s taking place during interactions. “I believe that cats and dogs can be friends if properly introduced,” Dr. Perdew claims. Make use of these tips, and you’re sure to become a believer too!
Special thank you to Dr. Irina Perdew for providing her knowledge and guidance in professional pet care!
To learn more about her and what she does, please visit her social links below: