Any animal lover knows how stressful it can be to introduce a bright-eyed newbie to a seasoned resident pet. The situation also seems worse when it involves a cat and a dog—yikes. Don't let fear of fighting prevent you from bringing a cute new Maltese home, though.
Relax your new Maltese. Before your pets meet face-to-face, you want to make sure that the environment is as calm and happy as possible. Encourage this by allowing your dog to blow off some steam beforehand. Take him for a walk. Feed him something yummy so he's full. Treats work! The more relaxed your new dog is, the less tension there will be when he meets your resident feline.
Place your dog's leash on loosely. The Maltese breed is small, but that doesn't mean that your cat won't see the new one as a threat. Keep your cat in her comfort zone as much as possible during the introduction. The shorter the leash, the better. Dog crates are also effective in these scenarios. The point is for you to have control over the initial interaction—and to prevent any scuffles, of course.
Ensure that your kitty has a way out. Before you bring your Maltese to your cat, check out the introduction environment. In the event that your cat feels frightened or threatened by the new dog, make sure that she can easily leave the room—or at least move away from "danger." Cats are easily shocked. Whether it's a high perch by a window or a clear exit, your cat needs to know that she can leave at any time.
Beckon your kitty. As she approaches, try to make sure that the Maltese is either sitting or lying down. If possible, put a small barrier between them, such as a baby gate. The last thing you want is for the dog to appear intimidating or scary to Kitty. When your cat shows up, encourage her by giving her a tasty treat. Also, if your dog reacts in a composed manner, do the same for him. Use a rewards system to give your pets a positive association with each other.
Keep the meeting brief. You want to slowly but surely get your cat used to the new Maltese. Change is a tough thing for cats, and often leads to anxiety and stress. Allow your precious pet the freedom to take things slowly. Don't force her to stay around the new doggie for longer than is necessary. A peaceful—and drama-free —first interaction is an excellent start to a possible friendship. Fingers crossed!
- If your dog acts overexcited or hyper at the sight of your cat, gently pull him away using his leash. You want to avoid startling your cat if at all possible.
- For the first few days, try to keep organizing "meetings" between your pets as much as possible. The more your pets interact with each other, the sooner they will get used to each other, and that's the goal. After several of these meetings, you can try introducing your pets to each other sans gate and leash. Just make sure you always closely monitor the interactions, of course.
- Scent is key. Before your pets meet, you can try to get each of them familiar with the smell of the other. Rub a cozy blanket—the same one—over both of them at different times. Scent familiarity greatly reduces nerves and anxiety.
- Cat claws can be dangerous to dogs, especially to tiny little Maltese puppies. Before your new dog meets your cat, clip your feline's claws to keep them as short —and safe—as possible.