How to Introduce Your Pooch to Your Cat
At North Paws Ranch, we love hearing about cat stories! While we don’t watch cats, we love every attempt at dog and cat coexistence. Don’t believe the cartoons you watched on TV as a child, cats and dogs certainly CAN get along. But there are ways to make the process easier for both your dog and cat. If both pets have previously lived with another animal, then the process should be easier. However, it is still recommended to take it slow. A gentle introduction is far more beneficial to both parties than a rushed one, and hopefully, after following these tips, they’ll become the best of friends.
Before the introduction
Before the introduction, take your pooch on a walk and feed them a few treats. This will get them in a relaxed mood so they aren’t likely to lash out. Smell is extremely important for communication: Put your cat in a safe space and let your dog roam around the house for around half an hour – this will allow the dog to “meet” the cat by smell only. Then, take your dog out for a walk while your cat roams the house to “meet” the dog by smell.
Put your pooch on a fairly short leash, allowing a quick reaction if something was to go wrong. It will also allow you to bond with your dog – extra bonus there! If your cat hisses a lot and likes to attack quickly, place him in a carrier and give him treats when necessary. Don’t be alarmed if your cat’s reaction is to hiss or growl – this is completely normal.
Let both of your furry friends check each other out – but from a distance. Talk in a soothing voice to your pup and give them both treats to let them know they’re doing the right thing.
When you introduce pets, one of them may send “play” signals this can be misinterpreted by the other pet. If those signals are interpreted as aggression, you need to gently tell them off. Remember not to scare them.
Bring in commands for your pooch
If your dog starts running towards the cat, correct him with the leash. Use “sit” and “stay” commands. If he shows any signs of excessive excitability, calm him and take him for another walk. Still unsuccessful? Leave it be and try introducing them again later on. Praise your pooch as soon as he stops trying to run after the cat. Finally, success!
Take extra care when introducing dogs to kittens. They are far more vulnerable due to their size. Kittens are sometimes a lot more playful and active than an adult cat, they are more likely to excite a dog.
!!! Before going any further, make sure there have been various occasions of accident-free visits. Let both animals show you that they’re comfortable with each other. !!!
Continue with caution:
Once your two furry friends have started to get along during leashed visits, you’re ready to move onto the next step. Let go of the leash but be prepared to step on it if anything happens to go wrong. If your cat hits your dog on the nose, try and distract your pooch with a toy, and don’t punish the cat – remember that this is all new to both of them!
Keep a calm and soothing voice at all time and remember to use their names. A raised voice may frighten both animals and it could end in a disaster.
Take your pooch off his leash and supervise them both very closely. If problems start happening, and they’re not resolved by voice command, put your pooch back on his leash for a while until they both learn. Make sure you do not leave them both alone together until you are 100% sure they are comfortable with each other. If not, keep trying and don’t lose hope! It may take time but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Maintaining a good relationship
As things progress in the right direction, you can allow your animal friends to roam and interact more freely with each other. But until you are sure they are besties, keep a ‘houseline’ to prevent any chasing. A ‘houseline’ is a lightweight lead without a handle, which is designed to trail behind your dog without him noticing, yet allowing you to take control if necessary. Breeds that enjoy chasing, like greyhounds or terriers, will need to be kept well under control until they learn that the cat is not something to be chased. Also, make sure to keep an eye on young, energetic dogs who are easily excited by other animals.
If things continuously go well, you can remove the ‘houseline’ but make sure you are there to manage the situation and don’t just disappear into another room as soon as you’ve removed it. Ensure your cat has high places in the house to escape to if he feels threatened, and can feel safe up there.
Extra things to remember
Cat food and litter trays can be pretty tempting to dogs so make sure to keep them out of the reach of your pooch, otherwise, you’re not going to have a very happy dog. Cats like to do their business in private – if your dog is able to access your cat’s litter tray, then this may cause your cat to become stressed and toilet elsewhere in the house!
If introductions don’t go as smoothly as you would’ve liked, seek professional help immediately. Fights can result in one or both of your pets becoming severely injured, and the longer the problem continues, the harder it’ll be to resolve. So act now! Conflicts between pets can be resolved with advice from a professional, however, punishment will not work and may make things worse.
Now you know all the information you need, hopefully, things will go smoothly for your furry friends. Remember that every pet is unique and everyone has different experiences when introducing their pets. Some introductions will progress quickly without second thought, and others will take several months. It all depends on whether you’re willing to be patient! Take things slow and carefully, and this should result in your animals tolerating each other, or even better, being best friends!
North Paws Ranch loves all animals, but caters to our mostly dog crowd. If you are in the Vegas area and are in need of daycare or boarding, reserve a stay with us and let us know how your cat and dog relationships are blooming!