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Introducing a Dog to Your Resident Cat

June 15, 2021

Are you adopting a new canine buddy? Congratulations! Of course, if you have a cat, your feline companion probably won’t be as enthusiastic as we are. First impressions are a very big deal to pets, so it’s very important to handle introductions properly. Here, a local veterinarian discusses getting Fido and Fluffy started out on the right paw.

Sniff

Before bringing Fido into the house, put your cat in a quiet back room with kitty essentials. After your pup has sniffed everything and is ready to go back out, let your kitty out, and put the dog in a quiet room. It’s now your kitty’s turn to get used to the new smell. Keep switching the pets back and forth. Pay lots of attention to your cat, so she doesn’t feel ignored or isolated.

Meet N Greet

After a few days of swapping places, your pets should both have accepted the idea that there’s another furball in town. Now you can officially introduce them. Don’t give them full access to each other just yet. Start by using a carrier or a puppy gate to let them see and sniff each other through a barrier. Offer both of your pets treats and praise to help sweeten the deal. If all goes smoothly, proceed with caution. If not, you’ll need to start over. Monitor all interactions carefully, and don’t leave your dog and cat alone unsupervised together until you’re sure they’re getting along.

Keeping Fluffy Safe

Make sure that your feline pal always has a place to go. She should have a hiding spot in every room. That way, she always has an escape if she feels scared or threatened. This should be an area Fido can’t reach. Vertical spaces, such as cat towers, are great for this. (Your kitty will also gain a scratching post and napping spot out of the deal.) Your cat will also appreciate having some hiding spots behind or beneath chairs, sofas, and beds.

Best-Laid Plans

In many cases, dogs and cats do learn to cohabitate, and get along just fine. Fluffy and Fido may even become bffs. Or, they might just agree to ignore each other. However, there are times when cats and dogs fight like, well, cats and dogs. This can be a very dangerous situation. If your pets don’t warm up to each other, tensions will continue to rise. Consult your vet or a professional trainer. Otherwise, if things don’t go well, one of your pets–most likely your kitty–could be seriously hurt. 

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