Worried about introducing a new cat to your dogs? Most dogs do well sharing their homes with felines, however, some do not and it is important to determine which side of the fence your dog digs. This cautionary tale can be applied to introducing a new dog to your cat as well, but proceed with caution.
You will want two people when making initial cat-dog introductions — one person to hold and watch the dog on a leash, and the other to hold and watch the cat in a crate or at a good distance from the dog. Both situations allow for the cat to feel safe and not threatened by the dog. If you have more than one dog or cat, introduce each pet separately.
Hold the dog on a loose lead and observe the dog’s body language and allow the cat to wander freely if it does not appear aggressive toward the dog. Ask the dog to sit or lay down and praise or reward them for ignoring the cat. If the dog becomes very focused, takes on a stiff body posture, barks, whines or lunges, do not allow the dog near the cat. Otherwise, continue with the praise and allowing the dog and cat to meet calmly.
If the dog is overly interested in the cat, put the cat in a separate room with a barrier preventing the dog access but allowing visibility. Work with the dog to distract its attention from the cat, allowing short periods of viewing throughout the day and extended until the dog appears to lose interest in the cat.
Depending upon the dog this process may take hours to days, but it is important to be patient and not rush the introduction as it could go irreversibly wrong. Make certain you fully trust your dog’s behavior around the cat before ever leaving them alone together.
When introducing a kitten to a dog use extra caution, as young kittens may not display protective fear around the dog. Even if your dog does not appear to want to injure the kitten it could play too roughly and inadvertently injure the kitten, so proceed slowly and do not leave them unattended until you are beyond certain they will play safely.
Introducing a puppy to an adult cat also requires a sense of caution, depending on the energy level of the puppy and attitude of the cat. Most adult cats can easily swat a sense of respect into a puppy, but if your cat is fearful of the puppy it may need your support in establishing this deserved respect. Separating the cat using a barrier is effective until the puppy learns the rules of the house.
Animal behaviorists can be very helpful in assisting with the introductory process if the adjustment phase is not going very well. You can always call my staff here at Second Chance for additional support and advice as they are committed to keeping pets as part of their families.
My name is Seven Eleven (remember the slogan for the 7-Eleven stores? “Oh, thank heaven for 7-Eleven.” Yup, once you adopt me you’ll get it). Anyway, although you should safely introduce me to any dogs, I will shortly be ruling the home with my young, laidback coolness. Come meet me today!
Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties for 27 years. Call 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about our Emergency Response, Community Medical, Spay/Neuter, Volunteer or other services. View our shelter pets and services online at adoptmountainpets.org.