How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat

Dog meet the cat. Cat meet the dog. Now go live happily ever after.

If it were only that easy to have your new puppy or adult dog get along with your resident cat, although the task may seem daunting (when your feline is hissing with his claws out at your poor unsuspecting pooch) there are ways to “soften the blow.”

In this post, we will cover a few ideas on how to introduce a dog to a cat.

Separate Them

Whether you are bringing a puppy or an adult canine into your home, you will want to have a room prepared just for the newcomer. Place your dog’s food, water, toys and a blanket or pet bed to help make him comfy. You can choose to close the door or use a puppy gate. This gives your new fur baby a chance to relax and your resident feline the time to get used to the idea of a dog in the household.

Remember, cats can be very territorial, so be sure to use a room that isn’t well used by your feline friend.

Over the span of a few days, each animal should be given their turn investigating the home without the presence of the other pet. Give them around 35 to 45 minutes to thoroughly check out where the other animal has been.

Tip: Feeding both animals at the same time on their side of the barrier or door creates a positive experience for both the cat and the dog.

Use a Leash and/or a Crate

After a couple of days, your cat should be used to the fact that Fido is in the home, so it’s time to allow them a bit of freedom. However, be sure to put a leash on the pup or have him in a crate. This is for his safety just in case Fluffy decides to lash out.

Give your cat the freedom to walk around and check out the dog. Be ready with plenty of praise and rewards for good behavior.

It’s entirely reasonable if your feline’s initial reaction is to hiss. This is her way of showing your dog “who’s boss.” Cut the visit short if there is any serious aggression on the cat or dog’s part, by putting your pup back in his room.

If all is going well gradually give your dog more leash-length. If he has a forceful reaction, correct him by shortening his lead and giving him the “sit” or “leave it” commands. Reward for a job well done.

Tip: Use this process as long as the cat and dog are still nervous around each other or are again showing aggression or just plain over-exuberance.

When can you move forward? When both animals are relaxed, are eating and are fine in each other’s presence. Rushing the process could result in fear on both your dog and cat’s part.

Extra Tips and Hints

Here are some additional tips and hints that will help the process of cats and dogs becoming future BFFs.

  • Always use positive reinforcement when it comes to teaching your dog to behave around your resident feline.
  • It is helpful to have your dog know the basic commands of “sit, stay, come and release/drop.
  • Never allow your pets to eat each other’s food. Cat food is high in fat and will create weight gain in your dog. Cats cannot get their full nutritional value in dog food as it lacks some vital amino acids.
  • Even after the dog and cat are getting along (or at least tolerating one another), be sure there is a safe place in every room where your cat can retreat to. Whether this is a higher-up ledge, scratch post or even under a low bed, your cat needs a secure location in case Fido is getting too rambunctious.
  • Swapping their bedding is an excellent way to allow both your pets the freedom to get to know the other’s scent safely.

Dogs and Cats Living in Perfect Harmony

Dogs and cats can live together harmoniously; it just takes some time, patience and a little know-how. Never rush the procedure and be sure to keep the two separated until they become familiar with each other’s presence. Once this has occurred, keep your dog/puppy on a short leash or in a crate so your cat can check him out in a calm and relaxed manner.

Lastly, remember always to praise and reward when the two are behaving, this will go a long way to building a long and lasting friendship.

Author Bio:
Sandie Lee has been a professional writer for over 20 years and the regular contributor of The Pet God; however, her true love lies in all things animal-related. She resides in Northern Canada with her hubby and three rescue felines.

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16 thoughts on “How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Best is to introduce the two species to each other when young. While an older dog (not a hunting breed) might get used to a cat, an older cat is more unlikely to adopt to the idea of a dog … Dogs are rival carnivores. Cats are small predators, so the usually bigger pooch will intimidate the cat. Cats are not anti-social, but they are no pack animals – well, house-cats and small wild-cats aren’t … Lions are different, of course. Your dog on the other hand is most likely eager to belong to a pack. And they communicate differently, not only the obvious swish with the tail, also the raised paws, a dog’s invitation to playful hunt is a cat’s threat of aggression (bowing down head, making noises – for cat a sign: If you come any nearer I will scratch the living daylights out of you. For dog: Come on, let’s chase!)
    They can become best friends – but the chances are bigger, if they are young.

    • Marc-André says:

      I wonder if introductions to Orientals would be different because their behaviour is different to most other cat breeds and they have a much stronger pack mentality. XD

    • Robert Varga says:

      Our two Bengals, already adult aged, slowly created a friendship with the newcomer dog (came last summer). Took a little time, but given the dog was much smaller and very young at arrival and these cats smart and well listening, it became a success. Fast? No. But these days they are playing…

  2. Stareofthedog says:

    Yes really important article and well written. We have a very inquisitive and very boundy Labrador whom I blog about but no cat. My parents do have a cat though and we have undergone a slow meeting of minds. Very slow…….

  3. rabies926 says:

    I also used a cloth to wipe the kitten down to get the kitten scent on the cloth and put it in the dog’s kennel for the dog to get used to the kitten’s scent.

  4. B. says:

    The cutest thing ever… and the most challenging one, that I personally experienced is to make two cats, a grown up and a kitten to make acquaintance…

  5. percythecoton says:

    Good article, some really useful suggestions. Just going through the process with my 13 year old cat and 5 month old pup. They’re getting on okay now but it’s most definitely been a slow and steady process, taking time to ensure that they get used to one another and also have their own space away from each other too.

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