How to Introduce a Cat into a Dog Family

dog nuzzling with a cat

cat affectionately caressing a sleeping dog

People often ask if you’re a cat person or a dog person. But what if you are a “both” person? Having been raised in a home with both cats and dogs, I am definitely a both person. Cats and dogs are very unique in their characteristics. A lot of people love both, but we often feel like our homes can only have one or the other to be harmonious.

Thankfully that isn’t true at all! Cats and dogs can easily get along and even become best friends after a while. All you have to do is introduce them! Even if you have an already established dog in home, you can still introduce a cat to the family.

 

Think about your dog’s temperament

The chances of a creating a new peaceful dog/cat relationship can depend, in part, on your dog’s breed and general temperament. Naturally calm and social dogs can be more accepting of new family members. Certain breeds like, retrievers, pugs and maltese are known to be more cat-friendly. While other breeds, such as huskies, bull mastiffs and greyhounds have a natural prey drive that can make them want to hunt everything, including the new Mr. Fluffy. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your dog is a good fit for a new cat companion before committing.

Introduce them gradually

The best way to introduce them is to do it slowly. First contain the cat to one room with everything that they need. Let your dog sniff at the door and know that the cat is in there. Take some familiar items, like a shirt or a pillow and leave it in with the cat for a while. Then move them to a common area. This will slowly introduce the cat’s scent into the house.

Next, feed both the new kitty and your dog on either side of the door where the cat is confined. This will help them get familiar with each other’s scent while letting them know there is no threat at meal time.

Give the cat a chance to explore without the dog

After a little time in their own room, allow your newest family member to explore the house without the dog around. This will give them a chance to get acclimated with their new home and all it’s scents, as well as leaving their scent around a few places too. While you do this, put your dog in the cat’s room so they can also get familiar with the new smell.

Supervise and control the first few meetings

It’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash during the first meeting. Dogs are naturally more powerful and can easily hurt the new cat by accident. Make sure to closely monitor their interactions to make sure everyone stays safe. Try to aim for several short meetings over the week instead of one or two long ones.

Train your dog how to behave around the new family member

Your dog may take to the new family member like a new bestie, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to know how to act around them. Dogs can injure cats even if they are just playing. That’s why you need to train them to be calm and to not play rough with their new kitty companion. Focus on positive reinforcement and try not to put too much emphasis on negative reinforcement.

Adding a new furry family member can be very exciting, but it can also be pretty stressful. With a few simple steps, introducing your dog to a new cat doesn’t have to be a disaster. And with time, hopefully they’ll be best friends!

 

No matter what, having pets in the household is plain awesome! Enjoy the new life in the house and take it one day at a time. Do you have any funny stories about introducing your cat to the rest of the family? We’d love to hear it. Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

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