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Are you wanting to add a cat to your dog-filled family but aren't sure the best way to introduce them? While there are different factors involved like your dog's personality, experience/history with living (or not living) with cats, cats and dogs can coexist in the same home, and even become friends!
In this post, we're sharing 5 tips for introducing your new cat to your dog(s).
The first tip for introducing your new cat to a dog is to initially keep them separated from one another. Your new cat is working to adjust to their new home, which can initially create some stress in their life. The last thing your cat needs is another animal trying to see them. Even if your dog has experience with cats, it's always good to start from scratch since the excitement will be new, and if the cat hasn't been around dogs before, for them this is completely new territory.
Creating a dedicated room or space for your cat that is completely blocked off from your dog(s) to start is best. This could be an extra bedroom, bathroom or other dedicated space you know would be perfect for your new cat.
The second tip to introducing a new cat to a dog is to allow them to meet through a closed door. This keeps both sides safe and allows them to smell and hear each other without completely meeting just yet.
When dogs have a good foundation of basic obedience commands such as "leave it", "sit" and "stay", you are more able to redirect and refocus your dog's attention when needed. These commands will come in handy when initially introducing your dog to your new cat in a safe and positive way! Grab some treats and work with your dog for 5-10 minutes multiple times a week to give them a proper refresh.
Once your dog has been able to smell and hear your new cat, you can now begin distant introductions. A safe way to do this is to introduce a pet gate as a barrier between your dog and cat.
Carlson Pet Products has numerous dog gates with smaller pet doors like our Big Tuffy Expandable Pet Gate that is a great resource that not only helps block off areas of your home from your dog, but also gives your cat a way to get a break and relax.
If your dog tends to get excited, having them leashed so they don't have the opportunity to push down the gate is a great way to keep them calm and the experience safe for both sides. Another thing you can also do for your dog if they tend to get excited or are overstimulated by the new cat, is to take them on a good walk or have a fun play session before introducing them. Channeling that excess energy into something positive from the start will help set up your first distant meeting for success.
Something else to keep in mind is to watch your animal's body language. If one side appears to be stressed, angry or nervous, take a break and revisit later. If things are going well, you can try this 1-2 times a day to begin introductions.
If your gated introductions are going well and your dog and cat are beginning to become comfortable with one another, you can try your first non-gated introduction. To do this, put your dog on a leash and allow the cat to walk around them and get as close as they want to your dog for a few minutes. As you continue to do this and your dog and cat become more comfortable with one another, you can then increase the amount of time they spend together and eventually allow your dog and cat to roam freely with one another.
Know that throughout this entire process, there's no set timeline of how long it will take for your dog and cat to become comfortable with one another. It could take a few weeks, a month or a few months for everyone to interact with one another in a safe and calm way. Patience is key here and the best thing you can do for both of your pets is to set them up for success from the beginning!
Are you feeling more confident and ready to introduce a new cat to your dog-filled home? We hope so! If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for additional tips. We love that your furry family is growing and we can't wait to hear all about your fun adventures together!