Whether you already have a dog and are considering getting a cat, or vice versa, their first introduction is very important! Setting up an environment for success will help your current pet and your new pet better adjust to having a new furry sibling!
The American Humane Association provides some great tips how to best match your new dog or cat with your current furry friend, and how to introduce them!
Matching Cats and Dogs
It’s essential to consider the personalities of both the dog and cat when you’re thinking about adding a new addition to your family.
A new cat isn’t a good idea if your dog:
- Chases, pins, picks up or has otherwise been rough with any cat in the past
- Growls, lunges at or obsessively barks at cats
A new dog isn’t a good idea if your cat
- Growls, swats at, runs from or hides from dogs
Dogs who like to chase. If a dog loves chasing things, then a fearful, shy cat who runs away probably wouldn’t be the best choice, as it could start a chase! Similarly, an energetic cat who runs and pounces would also fall into this same category. A better match here would be a calm, confident cat who will not run away!
Playful dogs and cats. If a dog plays roughly, it is best to avoid pairing them with kittens or elderly cats who are more fragile. Instead, a playful adult who is interested in play, but is also confident and self-reliant might be a better choice! If a cat is rambunctious or playful, a dog that is playful, but gentle, could be a great option!
Elderly and calm dogs and cats. A calm counterpart would be best. Rambunctious companions may annoy, frighten or otherwise bother your other pet!
The Introduction Process
The American Humane Association provides four steps that can help you ensure a successful meeting:
Step 1: Choose the proper location for the first meeting
If you are adopting, speak with an adoption counselor to find the best place for your pets to meet for the first time. Depending on whether you are introducing a new cat or a new dog, at home may or may not be the best option!
Step 2: Separate your new furry family members
Alternate which pet has freedom and which is limited to a safe place to allow each animal plenty of time to investigate the other’s scent. When your pets are home alone, the dog and cat must always be separated so unsupervised interactions are not possible.
Once both pets are calm, you can proceed to the next step!
Step 3: Make leashed introductions
Allow both the dog and cat to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog securely leashed. Continue with this type of introduction until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally.
Continue until both the dog and cat seem happy and relaxed around each other.
Step 4: Allow unsupervised interactions
Unsupervised time together can happen after the cat and dog have been supervised around each other for a significant period of time and you are positive they will not hurt each other!
Remember, stay patient and calm! It may take time for your new pet to adjust, and that’s completely normal. If you have any troubles along the way, never hesitate to consult your veterinarian for advice.
Source: The American Humane Association