They are boisterous, they can be noisy and they can be bold. To a cat that has not been exposed to dogs, these critters of the canine kind can be intimidating and downright frightening. Learning how to introduce a new cat to a dog is all about keeping their meetings brief, controlled and gradual.
How to Introduce a New Cat to a Dog
Before you bring home your newly adopted kitten or cat from an animal shelter or responsible breeder, it is essential to prepare a room for the kitty. This room should have a door that closes securely, and it should contain all of the essential feline creature comforts. Such items should include a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, a tall cat tree and a bed with a towel on it. You should also place a clean towel on the dog’s bed in another room. Your new cat will reside in this room for a few days while the two species get accustomed to the new scents of one another. Each day, swap the two towels around so that the cat experiences the scent of the dog and the dog discovers the scent of the cat. Try to swap the towel at feeding time for both animals so that they learn to associate the scent with something pleasant, such as food.
The next stage of how to introduce a cat to a dog occurs only when the two animals react indifferent to the scents of the towels presented to them. At the second stage, leash the dog and have a strong family member hold onto the leash. Place the kitten or cat on the floor beyond the dog’s reach, and leave the door to the cat’s room open so that it can escape if the need to flee kicks in. Keep these encounters brief. Once 10 minutes have passed or the cat has sought quick refuge into its room, whichever occurs first, replace the cat in its room and shut the door. Continue these introductions a few times each day. Once the cat no longer hisses or darts back to its room in terror, reward this improvement by giving the cat treats and playing with it. Once the dog is no longer barking or pulling in an attempt to chase after the cat, reward the dog in the same manner.
Once the dog no longer shows an interest in chasing the cat and the cat no longer exhibits fear of the dog, it is time for the next stage. Continue to keep the dog on a leash during this phase. Walk the dog into the cat’s room while the cat is on the floor of the room and close the door. While one family member holds the dog’s leash and another family member keeps watch over the cat, allow the two animals to interact closely. Let the cat decide for itself whether it wants to get up close and personal or retreat to the safe height of the cat tree. Once the two pets are interacting together without showing signs of fear, aggression or harassment, reward them with treats for good behavior. After several days of these favorable results, then you can allow the dog and the cat to have interactions without leashes or confinements. Be sure to closely supervise these interactions, and leave the door to the cat’s room open. Once the cat is free to roam the home along with the dog, keep the cat tree someplace where the cat is familiar and can retreat whenever it feels the need. Even once the two become friends, there will be days when the cat is not in the mood to play with the dog, and it will be grateful for the escape zone.
Company Is Coming
If you have friends or relatives who own dogs that come to play with your dog when they visit, ask them to stop by with their dogs on leashes. Allow the dogs to meet your cat while the dogs are tethered, and reward the cat when it doesn’t flee. This will help your cat to learn not to fear other dogs that it may encounter in your home or yard from time to time.
Your dog and cat may become inseparable buddies. Conversely, their relationship may never evolve beyond respecting one another’s space. As long as they can coexist peacefully, then you have successfully completed the the lesson of how to introduce a cat to a dog. The aforementioned introduction process can be applied whether you are bringing home a new kitten or cat, or if you are introducing a new puppy or dog to your resident cat.
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