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When cat meets dog: adding a cat to a dog loving home

Cats and dogs don't always have to be enemies. Emily Parker on how to safely and peacefully introduce a cat into your home if you already own a dog.

cats and dogs

Even if your home has a dog or two, chances are, somewhere in you there’s a person wanting to release their inner feline side and introduce a cat to the family. However, if that’s what you are wanting to do, don’t just rush out and get the first cat you can find and bring it home with you. To make sure you get the best results that keep your canine and feline happy, give some thought to the best ways you can bring these opposite animals together in a peaceful fashion. If you’re ready to take the plunge and have a dog-cat household, here are some great tips you can use along the way.

Have a well-trained dog

If your dog hasn’t been to obedience school or perhaps needs a refresher course, now would be the perfect time to act on this. By doing this before you introduce your new kitty to the household, your dog will have a much greater chance of listening to you and cooperating with you when it comes to behaving around the new feline arrival. By making sure your dog remembers how to sit, lie down, stay, and ignore numerous distractions, you’ll be setting the stage for success between doggy and kitty. And remember, much of this is dependent on you being a commanding but gentle leader for your dog!

Dog and cat

Pay a visit to a kitty

If you’ve got a family member or friend who has an easygoing cat, consider taking your dog and paying a visit to gauge how your dog reacts to cats. In these situations, you don’t need to let the dog and cat interact on a grand scale. Instead, just keep your dog on a leash and see how it feels about the cat. If the dog spends the visit growling, barking, and lunging at the cat, that could spell potential problems. However, if it acts friendly or just slightly excited, you can feel much more confident that introducing a cat to your dog-loving home will work out quite well.

Choose the correct cat

While many people assume cats are cats, that’s not necessarily true. If you’re going to introduce a cat to your doggy home, it’s important to choose the perfect cat for your situation. If you are looking to add an adult cat to your home, it’s best to visit a local animal shelter and speak with the staff, who can recommend certain cats at the shelter who have been socialized to dogs. Or if you prefer, you can adopt a kitten and raise it with your dog. However, this generally works best when the dog is young as well, since this will let the two grow up together.

Let your cat have a safe area

When you bring your new cat home, don’t immediately force it to be with your dog. Instead, provide it with a safe area where it can have its own space without worrying about being confronted by the dog. If you’ve got a spare bedroom or perhaps a utility room, this would be ideal. To make the situation even better, you can install a screen door or perhaps a doggy gate to let the two see one another. By doing so, the cat can have its own area where it can eat, sleep, and use the litter box, while being able to observe the dog on its own terms. A great way for everyone to get to know one another, this is a very effective method of introduction.

Short introductory sessions

Once you think your dog and cat are past the point of simply needing to gaze at one another from afar, it’s time to start doing some short introductory sessions. For the first session or two, always have your dog on a leash to make sure you can maintain control if things get heated. If these sessions go well, you can gradually get brave enough to have everyone running free, where they can hopefully play with one another and discover they have a new friend. As things progress, you can eventually feel confident enough to leave the two home unattended, although this shouldn’t be done until you have observed the two together many times and noticed no animosity from either side.

Make sure both are healthy

Before you add a cat to your dog-loving home, it’s always a good idea to pay a visit to your vet to make sure both animals are healthy. After all, if one or both are sick or have injuries you are not aware of, a bad situation could be made much worse. In addition to this, make sure everyone is up-to-date on their vaccines, just to make sure optimal health is maintained.

 cat and dog

Give everyone equal attention

Just like human children, pets can pick up on when one of them is getting a bit more attention than the other. And yes, they can get jealous and even depressed as well. To keep this from happening, make sure you give your new kitty as well as the incumbent doggy an equal amount of attention. In these situations, positive reinforcement often works well, with both pets being given treats for behaving themselves.

Make sure you’re ready

While adding a kitty to your doggy home may sound like the best thing in the world, take a few days (or weeks!) to make sure you’re ready to have another pet in your household. If you have other responsibilities in your life, such as caring for an ill family member or a job that requires you being away from home quite often, give serious thought to whether you’re doing the right thing. If after thinking about it you decide to go for it, try to make sure you have friends or family members who can step in and help out if needed.

For households that have both dogs and cats as members of the family, it’s an experience that can bring years of joy to everyone. By seeing your dog and cat play with one another, sleep side-by-side, and grow to truly enjoy each other’s company, you’ll discover numerous benefits to your life you never imagined possible.

Emily Parker is a proud cat mom to 2 black cats, Gus and Louis. She loves to explore her neighbourhood on foot with her fiancee, hoping to find either a cute new coffee shop, or a cute outdoor kitty. She spends much of her time researching and writing about cats for her website Catological.

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