If you own a dog but are interested in getting a cat, you may be thinking about the process of introducing them to each other. But the steps to introduce your dog to a cat is a bit trickier than just sticking them in a room together.
To make sure the introduction goes smoothly, plan ahead. You might need plenty of time for your dog and cat to get acquainted.
Here are the easiest ways to prepare.
Choosing the Right Cat
Before you get a cat, you’ll want to consider the various cat breeds. Each breed has a different personality, so do some research before you make your decision. Interact with the cat you plan on getting for a while before you bring them home.
Try and imagine how its personality will mesh with your dog’s. For example, if your dog is the type to chase things, your best bet is to get a cat that is calm and confident. A shy cat may end up being afraid of your dog.
Separate Them for Some Time
Before you introduce them, you should give them time to get used to each other’s scent. This means confining one animal and letting the other one roam. Rotate which pet is confined and which is roaming for a few days.
When it comes time for them to meet, they won’t be as surprised by each other. This would also be the time to assess how the meeting might go.
If your dog digs at the barrier that is keeping them from the cat, the interaction might not work out. At this point, you may want to consider pursuing training.
Choose the Right Location
If you’ve decided to adopt, don’t try and bring your dog to the shelter where you are adopting your cat from. This could make him feel scared. Also, it’s a health concern. The first interaction should take place at home.
Make sure the space you choose to introduce them is large, but not so large that they could end up freaking out and running away. If you don’t have control of both pets, you may find them chasing each other.
Before you let them interact on their own, you should let them meet each other while leashed. You can continue doing this for several days until your dog isn’t bothered by your cat.
If either animal displays aggression or fear, you may want to backtrack and continue keeping them separated for a longer period of time.
If there is no one home, make sure one of or both of the animals are confined so they cannot interact with each other unsupervised.
Once both animals feel relaxed, it may be time to let them interact on their own. Only allow this when you are sure that neither animal will hurt the other. It can take about a month to reach this point.
If it takes longer than this, don’t feel discouraged. Every animal is different, and it’s impossible to tell how the two personalities will interact. The important thing is that you don’t force it. Eventually, they won’t feel so shocked or threatened by each other.
If your dog remains focused on the door blocking them from your new pet cat, distract your dog with treats or by guiding them away on a leash.
Once your dog is no longer near the cat, offer them a treat. Repeat this process several times until your dog loses interest. Over time, this will teach them that they shouldn’t stay fixated on your new pet cat. From there, you can work on building their relationship.