How to Introduce a New Cat to Dogs

by Laura Agadoni, Demand Media
    A cat and a dog can learn to love each other.

    A cat and a dog can learn to love each other.

    If you have a dog in the house and wish to introduce a new cat, the worst thing you could do would be to throw the animals together in a “sink or swim” fashion. That would practically orchestrate a fur-flying failure.

    Items you will need

    • Food and water bowls
    • Litter box
    • Climbing tree
    • Cat bed
    • Blankets
    • Cat carrier

    Step 1

    Work with your dog before bringing a new cat into the home. Your dog needs to obey your commands of “Sit,” “Down,” “Leave it,” “Stay” and “Come.” You need the ability to control your dog when introduction time comes.

    Step 2

    Allow time for the cat and dog to become acquainted. This can happen as quickly as a few days, but it could take up to a month or more.

    Step 3

    Set up a room in the house for the cat, complete with her food and water bowls, a litter box, a climbing tree and a place to sleep.

    Step 4

    Provide a blanket for your dog’s bed and for the new cat’s bed. Switch blankets after they have slept on them for a day or two so they can get used to each other’s scent.

    Step 5

    Take your dog for a walk, or confine him to a room in the house or to your backyard if it is fenced in. Use this time to let the new cat explore the house and all the smells in it. Return the cat to her room before bringing the dog back inside.

    Step 6

    Place the cat in a carrier. It’s meeting time. Put your dog on a leash and tell him to “sit” and “stay.” Have someone bring the cat into the room with you and your dog. Set the carrier on the floor.

    Step 7

    Command your dog to get in the “down” position. Give him a treat when he does. Offer the cat a treat, such as tuna or a piece of chicken; she might be too anxious to take it.

    Step 8

    Move the cat farther from the dog if she is scared or agitated. Keep your dog in “down” position — or you can tell him to “sit/stay” — and reward him with another treat when he remains that way after moving the cat farther away.

    Step 9

    Stop the first session after five minutes. In subsequent sessions, keep increasing the time the cat and the dog are in the same room. They should tolerate being closer with each session. You can have two or three sessions a day, or you can go more slowly.
    Once your cat and dog have reached the point where they are sniffing each other through the carrier and are not agitated, the next session, you can bring your cat into the room without the carrier. Make sure your dog is leashed while the cat sits on a friend’s lap. Your friend should not hold or force the cat to stay on the lap. Let the cat leave if she wants to.

    Step 10

    Supervise the cat and dog for a few days after they are tolerating each other in the house. If you will be out, keep them separated until you are sure they get along and will not hurt each other. If they show any intolerance to each other while you are home, you should keep separating them before you leave the house.

    Tips

    • Place a climbing tree in the introduction area. That way, the cat can escape if she feels the need to, while remaining in the room.
    • Taking your dog on a walk/run before introducing him to the cat helps ensure your dog will be in a calmer state.
    • It might take years for your cat and dog to trust each other, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
    • Feed your cat on a high surface, such as a cat tree, to prevent your dog from eating her food.

    Warnings

    • A dog, especially one that hunts small prey like squirrels, will chase a cat that runs away.
    • A dog can kill a cat.
    • A cat can seriously hurt a dog with its claws.

    About the Author

    Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.

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